12. Which charity or charitable cause is most deserving of money?
To me, it's the homeless. In this day and age, we should never have people without somewhere warm and dry to live, or a dry warm roof over their heads. people can be so cruel, calling them 'scroungers' and 'scum', but the truth is, there are many people who fall through the cracks for whatever reason. None of us are likely to think about it, but in reality, a lot of people are six chess moves away from being destitute. I have spoken to many a homeless person, properly asked them how they found themselves on the streets. One person lost their partner, another lost his savings and then his home by internet hackers. One young lad had been kicked out by his step father, one young girl had runaway because her home was not a safe place to be.anymore.
It takes guts to busk. I have been there myself - I was not homeless, just raising money with friends for an animal sanctuary a few years ago.
There is one guy in Penzance, mid 30s, neatly dressed (of a bit worn) who beautifully played his violin on the street corner. As I approached, he was playing a piece from Tchaiovsky's violin concerto. Another very plesant guy in his forties asked for change and I bought him a pasty, which he was most pleased with. There are many good charities here, like Breadline, Crisis and the Salvation Army, but there is still more work to be needed, so that people can try to regain dignity, safety and a helping hand back to some form of civilisation.
No one can judge - no one.
The Likes of Me
The ladies doll out my tea at arm’s length, with a smile stretched over their teeth (‘cos it’s Christmas, y’know), but as soon as I try to look ‘em in the eyes, they turn their head away and they speak to their friends. I don’t think they really want to be here. See, their vicar walks past with his dog one day and he thinks “Wouldn’t it be nice if we could help the homeless at Christmas?” Show people that there is ‘room at the inn,’ remind them of the Christmas message – but what he really thinks is: “Can I eat my dinner with my loved ones, when there are people freezin’ an’ starvin’ on my own doorstep?”
So he rounds up his congregation and they are all here, doin’ their bit for the nice, young fella. And he is good as gold, the vicar - standing there, wearing his Santa hat, telling me that “there are no second class human beings in this world.” His wife stands further back, with her smart hairdo and her Christmas tree earrings and passes over her tea. Her friend with the jolly jumper gives over her mince pie and I think: I don’t really want yer bloody tea and sympathy; I don’t really want yer bloody pie, but the heat from the tea urn and comfort from a chair helps me to find my manners soon enough.
I saw that councillor bloke the other day (sniffy little bugger, knew him from way back), he doesn’t even pretend to care about the likes of me. He’d been in the paper recently, claiming that the town “does not have a homelessness problem” and objecting that Camborne might become a “homeless dumping ground.” I was indignant and seeing him on the street, I went up and told him so. “I am a Camborne man, born and bred,” I said, “Never been dumped nowhere and I have a homeless problem.” That much is true: the job has long gone, so has the wife and now I’ve got nothing left.
Old Stoneheart, or whatever his name is, started to blather about antisocial behaviour caused by the likes of me. Now sure enough, I likes a drink - keeps out the draught, especially when it knifes up the main street late at night, but I kinda took a dim view, see? “Listen ‘ere matey,” I said, “Have you seen Camborne on a Saturday night? Wimmin falling’ out of limos, men fightin’ outside night clubs?” Now he’s not to know that some nights, I can’t find shelter and that I’m scared rigid that I might have the crap kicked out of me. So I tell him all about it. Matey backed off a bit, on account of me bein’ up close and personal and he not liking my ‘au de toilette’ but not before he had gone a bit red in the face and rantin’ on some more about wanting a “‘Safer Camborne.’“
People like him will never know what it is like to never be warm enough or dry enough and nor will the ladies with the hats and the turkey sandwiches, whose faces turn the other way. They all forget us once Christmas is over. Come January, when all of the glitter and goodwill has gone, the last thing they will want to think about is the likes of me.