I was back at Vauxhall today – giving my legs a chance to recover from the exertions of yesterday – and turning into the underpass to lock up my bike, I noticed something strange. Up to now, the Tour de France has been having a bit of a Wimbledon effect among London’s cyclists, and bike rack space near the entrance to the underpass has been at a premium. But there were no bikes there this morning. This, I realised, was due to the presence of a drunk slumped down between the bike racks, can of White Lightning in his hand, glaring around incoherently at all and sundry. Finding a space at a discreet distance, and carefully avoiding his eye, I locked up my bike and thought no more about it.
Coming home, almost 12 hours later, I was surprised to see him more or less in the same place, but more slumped this time and with his head hanging down almost to his chest. Now, I don’t want to be the passer by who just passes by someone dead or dying in the street. But neither do I want to be the annoying member of the public who calls an ambulance for a sleeping tramp and stops it from going to someone in real need. It’s a dilemma. I unlocked my bike and got ready to go, looking at him anxiously over my shoulder as I did so. Finally I saw him shift slightly so I knew if he wasn’t exactly OK, he at least wasn’t so dead that he had stopped moving. I stopped as I passed and managed to convince myself at least that he was sleeping peacefully and still had a full can of White Lightning, so he was probably fine. And then I relieved my conscience by pointing him out to the LondonLite guy so it could be his problem instead of mine.
So what would you do? Does worrying about it make it better that I didn’t actually do anything or worse? Or should I just let tramps sleep peacefully in the sun, and leave them alone in the future?