Donald MacInnes: It was either the charity collector or a frightening-looking dustbin

In The Red

Recently, I mentioned Kensington High Street's charity collectors and confessed to having been burned by one of these salaried beggars back when I had just fallen off the haggis truck.

It was 1998. I was a sporran-eyed Oliver MacTwist, staggered by London's mice-like hordes, parping traffic and aromas which made you sad. I had got a job at the Press Association which, as you may know, is one of the big news agencies which tend to break stories before newspapers.

Back in that pre-internet world, news agencies could publish their stories as they were taking place, unlike papers, which had to wait until the next morning to tell their readers that so-and-so had stabbed his cat or come out as gay or been buried under an avalanche. Or all three.

So I was making my way to the offices inVictoria when I saw a bloke ahead, smiling and looking friendly.

Although I had only been in Gotham City for a few days, I knew that such behaviour was not acceptable in public, so I veered away from him. However, in my alternate path stood a rubbish bin.

Now, this was at the tail end of the IRA's bombing campaign and, as a newly arrived country mouse, I was convinced every bin contained something Irish and dangerous.

As this irrational fear began to percolate, I was caught in two minds. Speaking to the blue-jacketed guy seemed preferable to inching past the bin as if I were tip-toeing through a room of sleeping lions in a morris dancer's outfit. So our paths duly crossed.

"Hi!" he said. "How are you?" I told him I was okay, all the while keeping a wide-eye on the nearby bin, which was surely seconds away from becoming The Smoking Crater of Death.

He started his spiel about needy people needing my money more than I needed it and showing me pictures of crying children. All the while, I could hear the bin ticking, feet away. Tick...tock...tick...tock. A solitary bead of sweat slithered danced down my temple and fell to the pavement.

"I'll do it!" I cried, grabbing his clipboard and signing my name and bank details. It was thus I spent the next year part-funding doctors who fly around Africa, fixing cataracts in people's eyes, which is obviously a very good thing. Not exactly what the Provos wanted to achieve with their Semtex and alarm clocks, but then again, who knows...?

d.macinnes@independent.co.uk

Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown

PROMOTED VIDEO
Sport
Laura Trott with her gold
Commonwealth Games
Arts and Entertainment
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman
film
News
Bryan had a bracelet given to him by his late father stolen during the raid
people
Sport
France striker Loic Remy
sportThe QPR striker flew to Boston earlier in the week to complete deal
Extras
indybestSpice up your knife with our selection of delicious toppings
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Training/Learning and Development Coordinator -London

    £28000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Training/Learning and Development Co...

    Training Programme Manager (Learning and Development)-London

    £28000 - £32000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manage...

    .NET Software Developer (.NET, C#, ASP.NET, front-end)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A Global Financial Service Organi...

    C# Web developer (C#,MVC,ASP.NET,SQL)

    £30000 - £40000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: C# Web d...

    Day In a Page

    A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

    A new Russian revolution

    Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
    Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
    Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

    Standing my ground

    If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
    Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

    Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

    The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
    The man who dared to go on holiday

    The man who dared to go on holiday

    New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

    For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
    The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

    The Guest List 2014

    Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
    Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

    Jokes on Hollywood

    With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
    It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

    It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

    Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
    Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

    Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

    Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
    Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

    Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

    Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
    Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

    Edinburgh Fringe 2014

    The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
    Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

    Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

    The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried