JO: I’m here in the Selfridges at the Bullring with ….

V: Victoria

JO: Victoria … who works for …

V: Suqqu

JO: I’m glad you can pronounce that as I can’t. I was just asking you to show me where I would find in this Selfridges the most expensive items you think are sold.

V: I would definitely say go to Floor 4. You can get watches. You can handbags.

JO: And not just any old watch, no?

V: Not just any old watch, no. They can go up to in excess of £50,000 maybe. Maybe more.

JO: Do you think they sell many of those a week?

V: Maybe. I would say so, yes.

JO: But a month, if not a week.

V: If not a month, maybe once a week.

JO: Do you see a lot of money around, do you think?

V: Yes.

JO: Because what I am seeing a lot of …. obviously one knows what one has to look for but I am certainly seeing a lot of poverty. Everywhere I’ve been so far – the South West, three days, Wales, three days, now the West Midlands – there are people begging all over the place wherever you go. It’s in your face.

V: It is, yes. It certainly is on the streets of Birmingham, as well.

JO: What’s your experience of it? Is it … because you work .. you are from Wolverhampton but you don’t … where do you live now?

V: No, I still live in Wolverhampton. I commute into work.

JO: So, you see it as a worker mostly.

V: As a … from … from commuting, yes.

JO: and what do you see? What kind of stuff ?

V: lots of … lots of homeless people. A hell of a lot. A lot more, I’ve noticed, this year. More than any other year.

JO: apparently there is an acceleration in homelessness.

V: most definitely.

JO: why do you think that is going on?

V: I do think it’s the cost of living going up and wages aren’t.

JO: yes.

V: simple things… such as fuel, gas, petrol … just basic living.

JO: just the basics …

V: gone up a hell of a lot.

JO: but these guys aren’t necessarily working, are they ?

V: I wouldn’t say so, no.

JO: So, they’ve just fallen through the gaps.

V: yes.

JO: It’s desperately sad.

V: Most definitely.

JO: Looking at the other end of the spectrum. Who do you notice … you work on a floor which is probably frequented by people with a little bit of disposable income … because perfume is quite dear, isn’t it, and makeup, and so on….

V: [ ] has products … beauty products for £20 – a lipstick – or you can have products in excess of £200 for a face cream … to a thousand pounds ..

JO: for a face cream.

V: so, it’s quite diverse.

JO: people still spend a fair amount of money on …

V: yes, people are still spending

JO: hence the staff levels in here. There are a lot of staff, aren’t there?

V: a lot of staff.

JO: ok, I’m going to go and have a look. Last thing is I’m going to challenge you a bit because the theme of my project is called Decency and Survival. I’m … it’s… I’m really trying to do three things which is to analyse where we are … what’s the situation we are all in … and I’m thinking about the way we live in relation to the Earth and what’s happening to the climate system and all the rest of it … work out where we need to go … how do we need to change it .. what needs to change … and then figure out how. How can people like us change it because people in power are obviously not interested.

V: No. Not at all.

JO: they quite like it like this.

V: and the gap is very wide ….

JO: are you concerned at the state of things ?

V: I do think so, yes.

JO: Just give me a feeling for … or are you so bloody busy that you can’t really ..

V: no, not at all … as far as my career, life is very busy, but looking at … on a reflective point of view, when I get home .. [ ] … I think we are in a very confused state … and when you think the people at the top are confused, what hope have you got really?

JO: Who are you thinking of?

V: The Prime Minister. She’s very …

JO: you are not convinced?

V: No, I need leadership. We need strength.

JO: Is there anyone that fits the bill or not really?

V: It’s hard to say.

JO: it doesn’t have to be a politician. Are there any other sort of non-political voices … well not non-political … non-politician voices ? … No one’s coming to mind immediately …

V: it’s difficult … it’s quite difficult because I don’t think anybody knows what is going on … even at the top … so a solution is going to be completely complex and very long-winded .. which the country doesn’t need that … we need stability …

JO: something now?

V: something now.

JO: My view is … well, it’s not just my view, but I think we are in an emergency situation because apparently we’ve only 5 years or so to sort the climate out, otherwise it’s going to sort us out.

V: Most definitely. Well, yes. You only see the news and you know, the latest weather …

JO: So you feel like you’d take it .. you’d know what to do a bit more if there was a bit more leadership.

V: we do need leaders because whether you are an academic or whether you are somebody who struggles with fundamental issues … I don’t …. [ ] … I do think when you have strong leadership … you know … motivation motivates. That’s what it does. And the woman couldn’t motivate a paper bag at the minute. I do apologise but she couldn’t. Well, if she can’t motivate me and she looks very concerned and very wide eyed …. it doesn’t really …

JO: I share that impression. Thanks very much. You’re a natural. You should do this more often.

V: Thank you.