She was around 5ft 3in, beige headscarf covering her ageing face, one eye almost closed in a palsied spasm. She looked as if she was of Middle Eastern descent and when she spoke to me, her accent seemed to back this up.
I walked past her. Deliberately moving to the right to ensure that her cry of "Big Issue" hit ears closer to her than mine-to somehow absolve me of my need to get involved. The magazine for homeless people that she was selling would take all of my loose change. Three pounds. I needed that for the car park. Besides I had presents to buy. I nipped into a shop selling odds and ends. I had a few presents to buy-what to get for those who have everything...
The woman's bent and frail shape, bowing under the bitter wind flashed across my mind as I browsed the cosy corners of the boutique.
The voice in my head was shouting. I knew what I had to do, but I certainly hadn't thought it through.
As I approached I remembered I had a £10 note in my wallet.Do it, the voice said, so I did.
Her reaction stunned me. Firstly, she seemed so surprised that I had to take the magazine out of her hands. She grasped the £10 as if it were a cheque for £1million. She kissed my hand and hugged me, refusing to let go, saying "God bless you," repeatedly in my ear. As I broke free, she took my hand again and this time it was me who was hugging her, saying the only thing I could think of "God bless you too".
I broke free again and sloped off trying to make sense of an encounter that had left me feeling what I can only describe as "Christmas Spirit".
The whole thing took twenty seconds.Yet, in that meeting, I felt that somehow she had given much more to me than the paltry £10 I had given her. Someone in real need showing real gratitude is a thing to behold.
Driving back, I switched on BBC Radio 5live. Ironically, the programme was being transmitted from a homeless unit in London, which helps to keep people off the streets. The stories of two homeless men mingled in my mind with the woman in Glasgow, and I wondered how many more there are like them. Those who need what we can give, while we spend to give to those don't need a thing...