I was walking down the road, eyes glued to the pavement. I was looking for a wallet. Not a particular wallet – any wallet would have done. Though my preference would of course be for a big fat bulging wallet. Stuffed with notes. Crammed full of notes. Fifties and twenties mainly, with a good selection of credit cards in there for good measure.
I was well and truly out of luck today though, as I have been on many other such days. The street was barren, yielding only trash. Empty fag packets, fag ends, Mars bar wrappers, Crisp wrappers, pavement oysters, pigeon shit, dog shit, laminated takeaway coffee cups and the occasional remnants of fast food from the night before.
Considering how many tens of thousands of people passed up and down this street all day long I couldn’t help thinking that this was pretty amazing. You’d expect at least the odd pound coin, for God’s sake. You’d expect something. But nothing. Zilch. Nada. Not a sausage. What was going on?
It seemed unfair. There was, without any doubt at all, an awesome amount of money out there, and I only wanted a very tiny bit of it. Nothing that anyone would ever miss. Not so much a slice of the pie but a crumb from under the table… Was that too much to hope for?
London is said to be one of the major financial centres of the world, which means that there must be literally billions of pounds all around me. There only trouble being, it occurred to me, that money (especially big money) is generally very well looked after indeed. The safest anything is ever looked after, in fact. Safe from the opportunistic grasp of people such as myself, I thought wryly to myself.
Generally, I pondered, it is undoubtedly the case that money lies hidden beneath the surface so that you never see more than the merest trace of it. A flicker here and there in people’s hands. Exposed briefly during that explicit white-hot moment of transaction…
The major movements you don’t ever see. Certainly I wouldn’t ever see it. Money, particularly the larger quantities of it, moves with a subtle, fluid grace; the vast bulk of it, of course, never surfacing at all.
It exists only as immensely powerful money currents, guided in its secret flow by the shadowy figures of the Master Money Manipulators. The Game Players. The so-called ‘Faceless Men in Suits’ people often talk about. The High Priests of Mammon. The Left-Handed Adepts of Babylon – men so powerful that their merest gesture moulds the life of millions.
The hidden hand of money. How frail and inconsequential I felt in comparison to that. What chance did I have? Veritable human garbage, that was me. Street trash, pure and simple. Infinitely inconsequential. Infinitely insubstantial. Not unlike the empty fag packets, coffee cups and crisp wrappers that were all I could ever come across as I trawled the barren streets of South London.
This thought cheered me up as I made my way empty-handed back to the squat in Stockwell. I found it comforting somehow, in a perverse sort of way…