Following her woeful attack on boyfriends who do not dump glasses on girls any more Lorna Doom is back with another politically incorrect article. This time Lorna V is incensed at the new beggars in City Gate who apparently are making up for the dearth of donation-inspiring activites in poor Malta. Lorna’s efforts to expose our island’s new levels of poverty are commendable. First men stop buying drinks for girls, now we will not have the Maratona tal-Kerygma. My problem with all this is that Lorna is not really angry that Maltese Charity seems to be drying up but rather that the government with the PM as Finance Minister is not coughing up enough money itself. Brilliant. Next week we will hear about all the kids on the beach who have been deprived of an ice-cream because of this country’s limping/faltering/sagging/sad/sick economy.
Here are some pearls of wisdom from Lorna V (my highlights in red and my comments in brackets):
Philanthropic organisations are trying to sustain the destitute themselves (duh! philanthropist) by some weird kind of “institutionalised begging network”. On a daily basis philanthropists are surely to appear out of nowhere (boo! I want your money) at Valletta city’s Main Gate as soon as a newcomer steps under the arches. Well, it is usually a multiple of them (a philanthropist squared), working in groups to tackle the heavy inflow of pedestrians and not letting anyone pass by unmolested. They jut out a hand as cold as charity (the freezing arm of benevolence) at you – in itself proof of a day-long toil (I still don’t get it… whose side is she on?) – asking for money. There seems to be a kind of understanding that, although begging to raise money for yourself is still considered as degrading, begging on behalf of others is not! Therefore, we all beg in an I-beg-for-you-you-beg-for-me (should I beg her to stop?) manner. So institutionalised has begging become that some registered “beggars-for-others”, with cards on their chest, are actually dictating the amount of alms to be given to them!
It seems as if a beggar mania as contagious as Sars (this beats the famous SNAP lyric “I’m as serious as cancer”) has taken over all over the place. Beggars of all shapes and sizes (what? you mean fat beggars?). As a direct reaction to all this, another phenomenon is gaining ground. A horde of impostors posing as money collectors for charitable institutions are starting to knock on doors and telling tales (the impostor bard) that would otherwise deserve mercy and which eventually result in the handing over of money (sounds more and more like Dick Turpin). Warnings have been issued by TV programme Tista’ Tkun Int, Radio programme M’intix Wahdek and Fr Hilary Tagliaferro of the Millennium chapel who all issued declarations to disassociate themselves from people who were collecting aid fraudulently using these initiatives’ name. It seems some needy are opting to beg as a profession!
Well… beggars at City Gates as a problem to society… where did I hear this before? Ah I know…
This is what Lorna must have seen… (with apologies to Monty Python)
–[A number of beggars sit by the side of the road begging. All seemsick apart from the one at the end. (The X-leper). They are pleadingfor money from a man riding a donkey.]]
BEGGAR 1 Spare a sheckle…
BEGGAR 2 God bless you, sir.
LEPER1 Alms for a leper.
LEPER2 Alms for a leper.
EX-LEPER Alms for an ex-leper. Bloody donkey owners. All the same aren’tthey. Never have any change. Oh, here’s a touch.–[Brian and his mum walk along the street.] Spare a talent for an oldex-leper.
MRS. COHEN Buzz off.
EX-LEPER [Still following] Spare a talent for an old ex-leper.
MRS. COHEN A talent? That’s more than he earns in a month.
EX-LEPER Half a talent then.
MRS. COHEN Now go away.
EX-LEPER Come on, bignose. Let’s haggle.
EX-LEPER All right. Cut the haggling . Say you open at one sheckle, I start attwo thousand, we close about eighteen hundred.
MRS. COHEN Go away.
MRS. COHEN Look. Will you leave him alone.
EX-LEPER All right… two shekels. Just two. Isn’t this fun, eh?
MRS. COHEN Look. He’s not giving you any money, so piss off.
EX-LEPER All right, sir. My final offer: Half a sheckle for an old ex-leper.
BRIAN Did you say EX-leper?
EX-LEPER That’s right, sir. 16 years behind the bell, and proud of it, sir.
BRIAN Well what happened?
EX-LEPER Oh, cured sir.
EX-LEPER Yes, a bloody miracle sir, God bless you.
BRIAN Well who cured you?
EX-LEPER Jesus did, sir. I was hopping along, minding my own business. All of asudden, up he comes, cures me. One minute I’m a leper with a trade,next minute my livelihood gone, not so much as a buy yourleave… You’re cured, mate. Bloody do-gooder.
BRIAN Well, why don’t you go and tell him that you want to be a leper again.
EX-LEPER Ah, I could do that, sir. Yeah, yeah. I could do that I suppose. WhatI was thinking was I was going to ask him if he could make me a bitlame in one leg during the middle of the week. Y’know, something beggable, but not leprosy, which is a pain in the arse to be blunt,excuse my french sir, but…
MRS. COHEN Brian. Come and clean your room out.
BRIAN There you are.
EX-LEPER Thank you, sir, thank… Half a dinari for me bloody life story?
BRIAN There’s no pleasing some people.
EX-LEPER That’s just what Jesus said, sir.
–[The ex-leper hops off, back to the road]
What has the government ever done for us? Will somebody throw Lorna a dinar? Damn… more than three paragraphs, but sure was worth it!