July 14, 2009


Hither Green is my local station. And this is Rob’s corner.  He sold The Big Issue (and had a cheeky sidline in secondhand Travelcards). The second bit may have been frowned upon by the staff at the station, but Rob was liked and he’d been a regular fixture here for a good few years now.

So it was upsetting to come across this today. It was nice to see that the train people had allowed, and contributed to, this small memorial. I stood there for a few minutes and thought about my times and encounters with Rob; the times I’d bought The Big Issue, or, more likely, given him money and not taken a copy; the times I’d see him in the pub by the station, called The Station; the times I’d taken a secondhand Travelcard, paying as much as I would for a legitimate ticket even though he only wanted two or three quid; the times I’d given him my no longer needed Travelcard; the times I’d just nodded; the times I’d ignored him.

A elderly woman joined me and we chatted briefly. We both agreed he was a nice bloke, and that he had his up and his down days. His up and his down months. Sometimes he looked like he was getting himself together. Other times he looked like he was falling apart. He clearly had a problem with drink and drugs. But you still give, because we’re all in this together, and though I’d rather he hadn’t wrecked himself I try not to judge. Recently, he hadn’t looked too good.

He wasn’t old. At least not the way I look at people now. He’d have been younger than me easily.

Rest in peace Rob. It was only today I found out your name.