Many years ago I lived in London, on Belsize Road.
Most days, walking to the tube at Swiss Cottage, I would pass two homeless men who lived on a traffic roundabout. Sometimes they´d be asleep, sometimes awake, sometimes drinking, sometimes bleeding, sometimes together, sometimes separate.
Their island was nondescript, bare and may still be there. They were dishevelled and dirty, crimson-faced, bawling alky´s; smelly and broken, wild and lost, staggering and gesticulating between themselves. Occasionally they´d make the crossing from their island to the booze shop on one of the corners. Sometimes they might not make it back: we´d pass one or both lying on the kerb, star-shaped, shipwrecked.
Back then we would walk around them in a line, off to work like ants, following the pavement and filing up to the tube to be someone´s secretary. “Are they crazy or are we?” I used to think.
Those two Tennent´s Supermen intrigued me. Often, in the drizzly, grey London mornings, they´d be deep in conversation, oblivious to us wafting by in our suits, ties, heels, headphones and superior, scented aires.
They were sipping drinks. Looking out at the sea. Deep in conversation. Hugging. Brawling. Nodding.
Where were they? Were they really on a traffic island in the middle of London? Or were they on an island somewhere, alone, on the edge of a sea of champagne, listening to whiskey waves, where dog ends were fine cigars and the muddy grass pure white sand?
I never forgot them and finally wrote a script about them which the great people at Tiny Epics are in the process of turning into a film. This morning they sent me one of the Supermen – Saughall Massey – dapper, proud and completely oblivious to the cold, grey world passing by right around him. Just as he should be.