I have a weird relationship with Lambeth. I hate it, and yet keep returning to live there like a dog returning to its own vomit. So I guess I must love it. I do - I love St Leonard's church which has stood there, more or less, since 900 AD. I love its graveyard full of famous Victorians. I love the Rookery in Streatham, the Brixton Academy, the old gateposts at St Matthews, Brixton which still say: "Carriages to London 2d".
What I don't love particularly is that Lambeth is home to all of the UK's village idiots. Saturday morning, at 9:30, if you venture out upon that stretch of the A23, you will find the loonies. Bless them, it's not their fault, but really! It's like Shaun of the Dead.
There's a 7'2" unsuccessful transvestite who strides, bejewelled and under-dressed, along the high road, his tight leather skirt barely coping with his ginormous gangly gait.
There's a tiny little mad woman, skinny as a rake, with long flowing grey hair and one arm decked in enormous, thick, heavy chains. She keeps her head down (and does not seem to mind the cold) and supports her arm with her other hand because of the weight of the chains. Once as I passed, she looked up and I smiled at her. Her entire face lit up and her child-like blue eyes looked so happy at that slight human interaction.
There is a hunchbacked elderly Jamaican woman who struggles slowly, slowly up the road with about eight bags stuffed full... of kitchen towels. She just buys kitchen towels. Her name is Bag Lady.
There is a mad shouting man, always with some cut or blood on his face, who sits and puts the world to rights at various bus stops.
There is Mad Raspberry Man, who the other day got on my bus and, because the windows were fogged up, he got upset and started blowing raspberries at them. "I can't see. PLAAARRRRT. Can't see. PLAAAAART... Rasp raspy rasp rasp."
And now there is BAD SPOTS.
The other day I was going to a craft fair with all my cards and jewellery, and had been getting very stressed in my flat trying to sort everything out and price each item. As a consequence, I had gone red. When I go red, I get patchy. It goes away quickly, but if I have spots or any hidden blemish on my face, the red heat makes them prominent. Hence I always wear makeup in case I blush.
Well I had not put make-up on my face because I was too busy. And I must have looked slightly spotty. As I exited my flat, I noticed a really dirty man in glasses staring at me from the bus stop opposite. His brown hair was matted, his beard was dirty, his glasses did not fit his grey face, and his shoes were unlaced and barely there.
As I passed him, he shouted out: "BAD SPOTS! BAD SPOTS!"
"Coming from you, that's a compliment" I snapped back. But his comment had a cathartic effect on me - I had a grin on my face for the next hour every time I thought of it. So his name forever more will be Bad Spots.