“I want you to picture the scene. It’s very important that you get this very clear in your mind. Here’s the table, newspaper, cup of coffee, packet of cookies. There’s a guy sitting opposite me, perfectly ordinary-looking guy wearing a business suit, carrying a briefcase. It didn’t look like he was going to do anything weird. What he did was this: he suddenly leaned across, picked up the packet of [my] cookies, tore it open, took one out, and ate it. Now this, I have to say, is the sort of thing the British are very bad at dealing with. There’s nothing in our background, upbringing, or education that teaches you how to deal with someone who in broad daylight has just stolen your cookies.
You know what would happen if this had been South Central Los Angeles. There would have very quickly been gunfire, helicopters coming in, CNN, you know. . . But in the end, I did what any red-blooded Englishman would do: I ignored it.“
Another quick post of the menu board from this week’s Souper Saturday where we had a rather luxurious menu which was also easy to prepare and therefore gave staff plenty time to interact with our guests. Sorry about that guests!
Really though, it was good to be able to give more attention to the people rather than the food and I think that it would be good to try to keep it that way in future. As I have mentioned in previous posts the whole point of Souper Saturday is to provide a safe and, without being patronising or fussy, non-judgemental social environment. We like to feed folk too (what host would let a guest leave with an empty stomach!?) obviously and that’s what costs money so if you fancy, you might want to consider subscribing via Paypal, which will allow you to easily donate £5 per month, how cool is that?!
This donation method will allow us to plan ahead a bit more.
Alternatively, you may wish to give a one-off donation, which is also very much appreciated! To do this you can simply use Paypal to pay soupersaturday at talktalk dot net or if you like to keep life less technical you could always pop a donation into us on any Saturday. We’re not choosy, we take any donation going!
Thanks again to our wonderful volunteers who do all the real work like dish-washing and allow me to do all the rubbish stuff like blog-writing and blethering; you guys are top bananas!
Here’s a pic of last week’s board. I’ve blogged it because I am worried that my previous comment about its unsuitability for public viewing might have been taken too literally: as you ccan see, it’s a little irreverand but certainly not offensive!
Today’s Souper Saturday was less hectic for me (Mark) than it has been of late and I was able to extricate myself from the kitchen for a an hour or so and spend some time chatting with the guests and with some of the Church’s lovely staff; including Steven (or is it Stephen?), who is the new Assistant Rector and yet another very nice fella (does St John’s kidnap and brainwash the world’s supply of lovely people so that they can hoard them all for themselves I wonder?). He has lead a very interesting life not least a twenty year spell in a monastery! He says that when he left he didn’t have a clue about any music or other entertainment form the past 20 years, but he seems to have picked up on modern technology awfy quickly since he was rocking that Android phone like a 12-year-old geek with a Reddit problem!
We also welcomed a new volunteer in Helen, who will also, I hope, be helping us with marketing-type stuff in the future as well as being a dab hand in the kitchen! We also welcomed back Jess and Jenny (I WILL stop calling them by each-other’s names, I promise!) who are fast becoming experts at this game. Jenny was particularly delighted to play the dinner lady by standing at a hatch ladelingout soup! Steven was as reliable, hard-working and fun as ever — thanks so much guys,the guests and I appreciate your work immensly 🙂
Regular guest Ian (with one
eye “i”) does the menu-board most weeks, and it is usually extremely funny, however it is also extremely personally insulting to me (like I ever insulted him….!) and often unsuitable for a family blog like this one (let alone a bloomin’ church hall!) so I’m afraid that there mightn’t be any photographic record of his work on here!
Mind you, my phone’s camera is so bad that nobody would be able to read it anyway, as the photos below will show. Jenny isn’t actually so blurry in real life. Mind you, neither is Kev so sharp 😀 The fella in the middle is John, otherwise known as Ken, Ken?
This is the only shot that’s properly focused, it shows the backgammon in the title and Rob, one of our regulars and thoroughly lovely for a “Brummie” from Wolverhampton. The arm belongs to Ian, who’s shy:
We’re back in our former home, the cosy wee DRT next week, so no doubt there’ll be a huge crowd in because that’s Sod’s Law — three weeks in the big hall and numbers are down (partly for good reasons- some of our regulars have found a place to stay, yay!) but tomorrow is the last day of the emergency winter shelters, so there will be lots more people out on the street overnight after Sunday and there will also be fewer breakfasts eaten since the shelter also fed its residents.
Please give a thought for Edinburgh’s street sleepers on Monday night: their first night outside will be tough.
This week we moved, due to increasing numbers, from the cozy wee DRC room in St John’s, where we had been very happy, to the grand and expansive main hall. As the photos show there’s a bit of a difference between the spaces (the photos of the round table from earlier blogs show pretty much the entirety of the DRC).
The new space can accommodate over 100 souls and it has a dishwasher and a serving hatch as well as an art exhibition and stained glass.
It also has a grand piano, but that’s out of bounds 😦
It is also next door to the main Church, so we can hear St John’s rather impressive church organ when the organist is in practising and if a guest or a member of staff needs a bit of peace then they can pop next door to the chapel. We are so lucky!
On top of all that we finally gained Fare Share membership, which should guarantee a plentiful supply of cheap ingredients in the future.
Today was a good day for Edinburgh’s homeless.
Lorna, one of our valued volunteers, wrote the following during a debate on food poverty on a website that we both use and I felt compelled to ask if I could share it here. Thankfully Lorna agreed, so here it is, our first guest post 🙂
Before I started helping in Wotsit’s soup kitchen I’d never spoken to a homeless person begging on the streets, selling big issues or took much notice of stories in the press. I’d always say no thanks or drop a few pieces of change into a hat but would never have considered having a conversation – I was led to believe by a variety of sources that money handed over would be spent on drugs, booze and cigarettes. Yep – I was as naive as they come. Still am about certain things.
Last week I sat down next to a young lad on Queen Anne street who was begging for money. I asked if he had a roof over his head at night, did he attend any soup kitchens and had he any friends he could stay with to be safe. We had a good and interesting conversation until a group of youngsters aged around 15/16 spat on him. They missed me by inches. Their language was unrepeatable and the word “druggie” was shouted at him. He was the same age as them. He said this was common most days. He’d never used drugs, but had considered it to forget things but wouldn’t know where to get money to buy it. He’d roughly make £2 a day – this was for a cup of tea and a scone. That’s all he had to eat every day. Before I left him I hugged him.
The guests at the soup kitchen each have a story to tell. They may have been your next door neighbours at some point. Most have trades, skills, ambitions, dreams, hopes, humour and live in reality. I enjoy listening to them and spending time with them. I think my life has more meaning to it than ever before because of these lovely chaps and chapettes. I apologise if this sounds soppy.
Today we traipsed over to Summerhall to attend this month’s Sunday Assembly.
Hmm. Dunno really. It’s like, this.. …thing. This beautiful thing where people sing and talk and eat cake.
This month Ian (one of our regulars) and I were two of the people doing the speaking bit.
We also done some singing and we did also eat cake: I had a piece of marmalade cake and a brownie with mint sweeties atop. Both were rather delicious. Robert and Stephen also partook of this bit. Christopher didn’t, presumably, partake in cake (being vegan and that) but he was next to me and he totally went with the singing! Christopher is a Sunday Assembly guy though — I recruited him into our cabal of volunteers by trapping him on a bench in the pub after last month’s Assembly and refusing to let him leave until he signed a contract, in blood, giving me his Saturday mornings for the foreseeable future.
Anyway, we spoke, after the wonderful Kath McMahon performed a selection of her inspiring poems, about what it is that makes Souper Saturday so souper. (Hint: it isn’t the soup!)
We got such a lovely response and Ian and I were overjoyed at the kindness that exists out in this world. I went home with SIX shopping bags full of food donations, a very generous cash donation and a few promises of time out of people’s precious Saturday mornings.
I was touched, and so were the others.
Sunday Assembly, we salute you!
P.S. There are still a few days left to donate to our Indiegogo appeal. Please do. Or don’t. It is entirely up to you — we are not about to starve thanks to all of the lovely donations received so far 🙂