‘Why are you dressed like that?’ asked a young lad in a hoodie at about 1.30 a.m. as the three of us walked past, two of us with rucksacks on our backs. ‘We’re the Street Support team,’ we explained. ‘We carry water and flip flops and we’re here to help people if we can.’
‘Oh!’ he said. ‘I thought you were hikers or something!’
‘Are you carrying water?’ asked one of his friends. ‘I’ve got a terrible throat – I could really do with a drink.’
Two minutes later, we were standing at the centre of a little group of lads who were drinking cold water out of plastic cups and carrying it to their girlfriends, who were sitting on the steps of a nearby building society.
‘That’s really good water!’ one of them said gratefully. ‘Who’s paying you to do this?’ ‘Nobody.’ ‘You’re not paid to do it? You must be mad – you’re off your heads!’
‘We’re from local churches.’
Round the corner, people were drifting away from a couple of the local nightspots. Two girls wandered past us and one glanced at me and said: ‘My feet are killing me!’
‘Would you like a pair of flip flops?’
They stopped and stared at us.
‘Seriously – would you like some flip flops? We’ve got some.’ I took off my rucksack and pulled a pair out to prove it. They stared in disbelief, then came up to have a closer look.
‘What size are you?’ ‘Seven.’ Mercifully, I had a pair in size 7 and handed them over. Off came her pointed high heeled boots and on went the flip flops, displaying a wonderful pair of multicoloured socks which had been hidden by the boots.
‘Oooh – that’s lovely!’ she said, her face the picture of unexpected bliss. Her friend, who had been standing aloof, saying she didn’t like things between her toes, now wore that expression that says: ‘I would like a pair really but I’m not going to admit it.’
‘Go on – have a pair. What size are you?’ I found a pair for her and she put them on.
‘They are well comfy!’ she said, with a grateful grin, and off they went, carrying their high heels in their hands.