Sodden sheep pin-down the Pyramids as the tarmac conveyor grinds to a crawl.
The Saltmarket is exerting it's grip, I've become it's willing hostage; Saltmarket Syndrome? "Billy fae Fife" carries the wind on his back like a sack of coal. He tilted his head skyward and looked me up-and-down like a war-torn terrier. His eye gleamed like an sapphire on a butcher's apron. Billy took my hand as though he was going to lead me on a dance.
It turns out there's a soccer star at The Big Issue depot. You'd never know, Frankie's too modest to let on. It was his 5 goals against Poland that secured Scotland's 2007 World Cup victory in Copenhagen. The final score: Poland 3, Scotland 9.
Frankie was Glasgow born, Gorbals raised and delinquency bound until he signed-up with the Scotland Homeless football squad and the team at the Big Issue.
A distress-flare bobbed above the counter bleating "been bullied, been bullied". Taunts and threats are a regular occurrence for Neil. His unquestioning trust can leave him vulnerable and exposed. He can't comprehend the retarded comments and jibes, he says "everyone gees me kisses an' cuddles."
Despite the danger and his fears, he keeps returning to his pitch. Neil loves his regulars, Neil loves everyone - unrequited. He takes the punches but could never deal them.
Neil needs care in the community. Meanwhile the Big Issue Scotland Foundation will continue to provide Neil with the support that society ruefully neglects to provide him with.
Stephen started vending a couple of weeks ago, it gives him "a sense of direction," but he's still nervous. "It's the youths you've gotta watch oot fer" he warned, pointing to a slit in his shewn crop. Stephen had intervened when a group of students were set upon by the Sooside (pronounced 'suicide') Cumbie. One of the Cumbies (Gorbals) gang drew out a "steakie" and stabbed him "in the heed." He recalled his amazement when the surgeons used super-glue instead of stitching him up.
"Be careful" he advised, "that no-one thinks yer a pro-active". I showed him my id.