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a look at another side to the street


Kindness is why people give to street sellers, entertainers and even beggars. Maybe the buzz helps them to be kind.

The buzz in this part of town – the centre of London –  has never been disputed. Even when you are gaining sanctuary in some of the quietest and most elegant shops or bars - the buzz follows you around, albeit less quietly.

There are the other aspects that we don't talk about except in committee. First inst - the bums. It's not so bad in other parts of town - honest guv, it's just that they multiply in areas where people have casual small change to throw - and do throw.

We Brits have offered a living to a large proportion of the current refugees - or assylum seekers as they are now called. (PC creeps in everywhere). As a country, we have undertaken to look after them and instead the government uses an 'under-the-carpet' approach to shunting them off to suddenly appear in the midst of poverty stricken communities of indiginous 'refugees' from the working sector. What's this to do with Covent garden?

In Covent Garden, as anywhere, begging is a lucrative alternative to the mean raft of paperwork for claimants and explains in part why so many beggars are in Covent Garden rather than [say] the City where they make a point of hanging on to their cash.

Professional begging with babies attracted the 'change'. in plenty, in this apparently affluent place until there was a public "NO!" to using babies underground and on the trains. Complaints stopped it. More people see baby props as a con job.

For a long time, as long as the tourists seem to like them and feed them like the birds in trafalgar Square, the police couldn't do anything - nobody wanted to either. Then beggars started to pop up all aggressive and rude - then in came the ASBO (Anti Social Behaviour Order) .They were literally ordered off the patch for a bit. Aggression is more or less a thing of the past.

Most government assistance money goes towards consultants monitoring & statistics paperwork and into the pockets of 'experts' - Not much of an already small budget gets to the homeless themselves.

Don't let it put you off though, they add something to the area. Some tramps dress up smart and give something back in patter or busking. London wit and street music should be encouraged with repartee and cash. Anyway, they behave themselves fine. Many people taking care of the ambience in this place make sure they do including the old guard of homeless who have made this their home too.

There are facilities here for the homeless (soon to be listed on the BackStage section). Sandwiches and soup even vans that come around with food and bedding. You don't get that in Penge or Kensington. On a fine evening the doorway parties begin. A flurry of folk carrying bedding settle down with their hats and some beer in 'their' doorways all over the place. Strand, where shopsI hear that in other parts of Europe they make their beggars dress up in suits so as 'not to let the side down'. We are more kindly here - for the time being.

I'm sure they appreciate the buzz as well, talking about which, do people come here to feed off a buzz or to add to it? Obviously a bit of both.



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