Monday, December 14, 2009
The changing face of beggars
I was a bit shocked to be asked for spare change by a little old lady when I came out of the supermarket today. She looked like someone's grandmother, perfectly ordinary if slightly pale, with a curly grey granny perm, casual anorak, navy slacks and trainers, plus a standard NHS walking stick. You get used to different types of beggars in central London, the junkies, the Eastern European children with their mums not far behind and the groups of alcoholic street drinkers, but she didn't fit those stereotypes. It's not a particularly seedy area round here anyway and we don't get loads of beggars. I was taken aback by a local streetdrinker who bellowed 'got a spare tenner luv?' at me a while ago. That's inflation, I suppose. I quite admired her cheek for asking, but I wasn't shocked. The granny-beggar today was memorable as she seemed so normal. Maybe it was some scam, or maybe she was after her next fix, who knows, but I gave her a quid and hoped that's not going to be the way elderly people are having to supplement their pensions nowadays.