The scourge of Clerkenwell

The scourge of Clerkenwell.

The number thirteen is significant for various reasons. Firstly, it is unlucky and puts the heebie-jeebies up many people. Secondly, it is the maximum number of steps that a person in Clerkenwell can take without being approached by some deperate vagrant trying to force them to take a free newspaper.

For many years Camden Town has been beset with drug-pedlars (ie. cyclists with large supplies of lemsip). These scumbags push drugs onto anybody that they can, desperate to bring the rest of society down to their level. On every corner there is someone waiting to ask you that crucial question: "Ganja, mate?"  It is a debilitating social problem.

But now, as  if this wasn't enough, these nefarious "pushers" have decided to widen their remit and branch out into free newspapers.  Every few steps in  Clerkenwell, regardless of whether you are just passing through, just crossing the street  or trying to make it to the pub, these people are ready to pounce. Like the drug-peddlar, the paper pusher favours street corners.  There they lurk, uttering their dreadful, guttural cries: "'Ave a newspaper, mate."

Even worse, than this, there is clearly a turf war going on. Rival factions promote entirely separate newspapers with entirely different news and  often entirely different pages. Don't get caught in the middle.

Do not get taken in by these seemingly innocent individuals. They only want to drag you down to their level. Once you have accepted just one free newspaper, you will begin to slide down that slippery path. You will want free newspapers every day and will resort to more and more drastic actions in order to secure your "fix" or "hit".  You will find yourself desperately watching BBC News 24 and Fox  News simply so that you can gather the mental wherewithal to drag yourself out of bed in the morning.

But it doesn't matter how many free newspapers you find, that perfect "hit" more will prove more  elusive every day. That euphoric high  will only be achieved by reading four news stories, a couple of features and a profile; and  then a week later, you will need eight news stories,  four features and a profile; then sixteen ... It goes on.

You will become addicted. You will lose your family and friends. Your life will fall about you in tatters, as you fail to turn up to work for weeks on end, suffering under your addiction - or perhaps even, under  your duvet.

Do not allow yourself to be taken in. Remember the words of Yoda: "Once you start down that path, forever will it dominate your destiny."    You have been warned.