He looks as though he is going to stop me and then thinks twice and goes on and then he does stop, probably because I hesitate when I think he is going to stop me. He's the kind of boy you wouldn't want to be stopped by, but it's only half ten in the morning and at the corner of busy Burleigh Street, so you kind of feel safe enough.
He is in his twenties, tallish and thin, very. His red hair shows beneath a sage green woolly hat and he wears trackies with stripes down the legs and a pair of trainers. I am expecting him to ask me for fags or money, but he launches into quite a lengthy preamble to this request.
"Missis, ah'm sorry for stoppin ye, but ah wis suppost tae see sumdy las night but ah missed thim an then they sayed speak tae the Barnardo's street team, but ah never seen thaym, n then . . . "
The next bit is a mumble and I can't make it out. He has blue eyes and gingery eyelashes and a scabby sore covering the side of his nose and part of his upper lip. His teeth are brown and broken and he looks peely wally and properly sad.
I catch up with the story again when he is asking if I have any money I could give him for now, till he gets things sorted out. I am not for taking my purse out of my bag in this situation.
He says, "Ah'm sorry miss, ah'm no a bad boy. If ah could just get somethin tae get somethin tae eat cos ah've no had anythin n that."
"Sorry son," I say, "I've no change on me. D'ye want a packet of crisps?" and I take one out of my bag and offer it to him.
He looks bewildered and casts his eyes round about.
"Could ye get money out that shop?" he asks, gesturing to a fancy goods store.
I am looking back at him, still holding the crisps and he realises it's a bit of a lost cause, nods his head and walks on without taking my meagre offering, saying, "Awright, thanks miss. Sorry for troublin ye".