This was a difficult article to write; not just because I’m a student and therefore, somewhat prone to procrastination, but because getting to the library was such a darn trek. In fact, I opened my front door this morning, and there they were: millions of them. All huddled together en masse, wearing ill-fitting jumpers from a few seasons ago, out-strectched hands all directed towards me like some sort of dystopian method of applause; unwashed faces suddenly turned my way like a singular beast of nightmare proportions. After a moment of baffled silence, all as one began yelling at me, “I NEED my bus fare!” “I haven’t eaten for a week!” and “My son plays the cello but really he has his heart set on a viola!” Awkward Christian-types picked their way between them, attempting to hush the racket with soup – but they were having none of it.
Or at least, that’s the vision painted by an article in the April 12th edition of the Staines Informer, warning the public of this apparent influx of “beggars” into Egham high street. Having lived in Egham since I was barely a foetus, I was surprised to hear the news that the town had been taken over so quickly, as in all my years there I have not once been approached for monetary purposes by anybody other than Tesco. But according to the apocalyptic article, at least one person has been arrested for breaking the terms of their ASBO by begging in Egham. And subsequently released. But never mind that – LOCK UP YOUR CHILDREN. If this news was not horrific enough, apparently an office worker has seen people begging, “Quite regularly.” Quite regularly. Now, that’s a phrase that strikes fear into your heart. Whenever I think of the vast armies of Mordor, or the plague-ridden rats that swamped the streets in the 1660’s, I always think to myself – that’s what they’d be doing – appearing before me in a ghastly manifestation “quite regularly”.
It’s not just overcrowding that these people are guilty of. Apparently, they LIE too. As the expert Sgt. Weaving says, some things said by the cretins requesting a helping hand are “not true.” But surely, I hear you ask, regardless of the verisimilitude of their stories, we should give a leg up to those shat on by society? “…not true” says the Sergeant. Ok then, but what about those who really haven’t eaten for a week? LIES says the Sergeant. VICIOUS, MANIPULATIVE LIES. “They are just conning people out of their money.”
So, next time you encounter a stranger out on the streets, in the cold, holding an empty cup towards you, don’t casually drop that spare pound in there – instead, first make sure you ask to see their tax return. Otherwise, they’re probably just CONNING YOU.