Friday, 15 January 2010

Maria & the Tramp …

(first published 4 January 2008 in the FLOG)
A tramp, a gentleman, a poet, a dreamer, a lonely fellow, always hopeful of romance and adventure.
Charlie Chaplin (1889-1977)



Recycled Post

Maria is a bitch; the Tramp is just a tramp. Maria is infested with fleas and so, I suspect, is the Tramp.

Before I go any further, and before I get myself into deep, deep trouble, allow me to explain. The Tramp is something of a local celebrity in as much as he is always 'there'. Stroll around our local area and you will almost certainly bump into the Tramp. And his female dog, Maria.

The reason I have gone to such pains to offer an explanation is that my soul-mate also bears the name Maria, as you would expect of any good Portuguese catholic girl. There the similarity ends!

Bill Owen as 'Compo'
Bill Owen as 'Compo'

The easiest way to describe the Tramp is for me to make the comparison between him and 'Compo' of the delightful sitcom, "Last of the Summer Wine", even down to the woollen beanie-hat and rope belt. If that is too parochial a reference, click on the link to get a feeling for the longevity of this BBC comedy stalwart.

The Tramp and I have something in common. I am retired and spend my day at the computer or walking the local area with my dog. He has probably never worked a day in his life and also spends his time walking the neighbourhood with his dog. We tend to gravitate towards each other for a few minutes of conversation at various times of the day. ThysonSpelled correctly.

The dog has a longer pedigree than I have, but when we tried to register him with the Portuguese Kennel Club with the original spelling of the name it was not acceptable as it was already taken, and we were offered 'Tyson97' as an alternative.

How unoriginal! So we inserted an 'H' where you wouldn't expect one.

, my brute of a boxer, gets on well with Maria, and when we meet up they invariably throw themselves into uncontrollable fits of leaping and greeting that pleases both owners.

The Tramp is well-spoken and has a good command of the English language. He is also very critical of my inability to speak Portuguese, and takes every opportunity to remind me that it can only be my laziness that is stopping me from doing so. I always agree with his assessment, and that is usually enough to pacify him, encouraging him to continue our conversation in the language of my choice!

Three or four months ago he and his dog disappeared from the locality and nobody seemed to have any idea where he had gone. It wasn't immediately obvious to me that the pair had vanished into thin air as I don't always make it as far as his pitch. But it was on one fine afternoon during the summer that I noticed that his tent, that was usually pitched outside the back gates of the cemetery, had gone.

This didn't come as a total surprise as a similar occurrence several months earlier had also seen the Tramp, Maria and the tent disappear from the cemetery gates. But on that occasion they had only moved a couple of hundred metres to the building closest to the cemetery, in which the tramp had been provided with 'social housing'.

I have never been able to establish the precise reason for that earlier move. Had the residents of neighbouring buildings complained about his impromptu domicile outside the cemetery gates? Had the car-driving visitors to the cemetery complained that they had been robbed of a parking space? Had the local council, against all known council dictum, decided to take care of a 'homeless person'? Whatever the reason, it didn't last more than three months. He was back outside the gates, and apparently as content as ever. He did express his appreciation of the local council for attempting to (re)house him, but lamented their short-sightedness in not taking into consideration that he was not in a position to pay the low monthly rental. And so, in a typical bureaucratic bungle, they gave him a home - and then snatched it away!

Now it appeared that, yet again, some well-meaning council busybody had decided to rehabilitate the Tramp, but this time to a location outside our area. He certainly wasn't appearing on anybody's local radar. Life moves on, and as the weeks turned into months, I was convinced that this time the Tramp had been encouraged to live life as the rest of us are forced to. A little box and a 'loss' of freedom was probably a price worth paying for a smidgen of permanence.

A few days before Christmas (2008) I was walking Thyson across the green when I noticed a loose dog galloping in our direction from about 200 metres away. My immediate thoughts were, "Bummer! Loose dog. No owner in sight." There was bound to be a fracas. Thyson is not a sociable animal. So I pulled him in from his extended-6-metre-lead distance and resigned myself to controlling the situation the best way I could. Much to our delight the loose dog turned out to be that flea-bag Maria. She greeted us profusely, pranced and pirouetted, and crawled in for a pat and a cuddle. I looked for the Tramp, and sure enough I spotted him about 250 metres away, walking in the opposite direction. No chance of attracting his attention this time, but I was certain our paths would soon cross again.

And they have.

The same reasons I've mentioned previously apply to his 'second coming'. He has pitched his tent in the same place outside the back gates of the cemetery. It obviously irritates the sanctimonious fat-cats who find they have one less parking space for their vroom-vroom-go-faster cars when they drive up to the back gates to pay their condolences to their dear departed.

But it doesn't phase the Tramp in the least.

His view is that the dead already have their space, and he only wants to occupy a slightly larger bit of turf outside the gates until it is time for him to take up permanent residency on the other side of the wall. He also reasons that it won't require a hearse to get him there.


For me it is more significant that it takes the presence of this man, who lives a totally transient life, to give me a feeling of permanence!

Bizarre ...


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Chairman Bill said...

So his tent pitch is God's waiting room?

Louise said...

Oh what an interesting, well-written post! I very much enjoyed visiting you today for the first time.

Fletch said...

I don't think he has a single 'religious' thought in his head, Bill. At least, we've never gone there during our many short conversations.

I think he feels it is his civic duty to make the removal of his mortal remains as easy as possible for the bureaucrats!

Fletch said...

Thank you Louise. I hope you find other interesting bits, too.

Wanda said...

I imagine the place by the gates feels like home to him.

distresseddamsel said...

It makes me feel sad to see people like him, making do with whatever they can just to survive; however, with him, he's different. I can't put a finger on it, but his attitude towards life and living is so simple and straightforward.

Martin H. said...

Conclusion: there are too few tramps in the world today. Nice post.

Thumbelina said...

I get the distinct impression though, from the way you write this, that the Tramp is just so ... satisfied? content? I'm not sure of the word that seems to fit, but to borrow words from the apostle Paul, he seems "content" with "sustenance and covering." (1 Tim 6:8 for anyone who wants to look it up.)
I hope he has sustenance and covering and that the "powers-that-be" leave him be.

He seems to prefer a simple life, which is an example to us all, as is his consideration for others in choosing his "spot".

Well written and interesting post as always. Thank you.
(Do any fleas hitch a ride back to yours on Thyson or do THEY prefer the simple life too? Just wondering...)

Finally - I am SO glad you clarified that first line. I really thought you'd gone suicidal on me and were committing "hari kiri" or whatever it is!

Fletch said...

The place by the gates IS home to him, Wanda.

Believe me, I've 'trespassed' on a number of occasions, and he has everything he needs. Including running water and toilet facilities in the gate guards' post when they open for the day - 7 days a week!

Complex soul, simple life ...

Fletch said...

Nice 'hidden' link to Tramadol, distresseddamsel, but I don't require it.

Thanks for stopping by ...

Fletch said...

Nailed it, Martin.

There is a distinct difference between the 'homeless' and 'gentlemen of the road'.

This guy is too well-educated for him NOT to have chosen his lifestyle deliberately.

I'll get to the bottom of it eventually, but it is fun extracting the information. The day he 'opens up' is, I suspect, the day I will realise that I have been accepted ...

Fletch said...

Having met Maria in person, Cath, you understand why I couldn't resist the tilt at her. She enjoyed the post when I first put it up. Actually laughed out loud! That made it worth the effort to write it.

And yes, the Tramp prefers the 'simple' life, completely shrugging off the chains of bureaucracy. I don't think he even attempts to claim anything off the state, preferring to accept any handouts that come his way, without actually begging for them. I have only been able to talk him into the odd cup of coffee from time to time. I suspect he would be highly offended if I offered more ...

Shrinky said...

A close family member of mine became a tramp in his dotage, despite my frequent attempts to house him. People thought his brain was wasted, but his intellect was sound enough. Finally, his frail health allowed me to imprison him - something he never forgave me for. He certainly was a cussed old sod, despite (or perhaps because) of that, I cetainly loved him dearly.

I sure hope he encountered someone the likes you along his travels.

Fletch said...

I agree, Carol. They can be curmudgeonly old goats, but likeable, precisely because of who and what they are.

The 'road' has never beckoned me. I like my running water and warm bed too much ...

Eileen said...

'Sounds like Tramp is living the exact life he wants to be living, or at least is very accepting of the life he is living.
Food for thought.
Interesting post.

I stopped by to thank you for your Birthday wishes to me. I appreciate it!
All the best to you,

Fletch said...

Thanks for the reciprocal visit, Eileen. Glad you enjoyed the post.

jinksy said...

I think I want to be a tramp in blogland, after reading this. Maybe, in a kind of way, I already am, as nobody stops my roaming at will...



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