Monday, August 13, 2018

Helping those on the wild side


Cynics might claim that the government’s plan to help street people is yet another desperate hide-Brexit campaign ploy – doubting Thomas-es that critics like that must be.
However, the government might have spared the suspicion had it chosen a better handle for the homeless … and chosen a term likely to have won huge support.
The suggestion of cleaning up the act of people living on the streets might hint of high pressure hoses and free soap all round.
But it involves rather more.
Passion and empathy
However, what if they had looked at your average Briton’s weakness for wild things.
Not necessarily Maurice Sendak’s popular Where the wild things are, but our passion and empathy for birds and foxes, even prickly hedgehogs, almost anything living that lives houseless.
I don't mean it unkindly, but there is something decidedly wild creaturish about the mainly blokes who live in shopping and public areas. They often exhibit something of the look or actions of wild birds, feathers ruffled, perched on door steps, or raised parts of the street, as they look out for ….
What they are looking out for is not often not at all clear. Sometimes a saucer is displayed. Presumably that’s for coins. Many prop up a small sign that refers to a lack of food.
The government reckons it will spend 100 million helping the homeless. However, a change of terminology, bringing in the term ‘wild’, and society is likely to offer all the help that could be desired without involving the government.
Our desire to care for the wild
Look online for seeds for wild birds and you will have a screenful of offerings. Wilko for example recognises the Brit desire to feed wild creatures – birds, for instance – and has an excellent range of seeds even better priced that pound shops.
From what you see at Trafalgar Square and over the neighbour’s fence, I’m assuming that changing the description of street folk to, say, wild people, or maybe wild Brits, or almost any term that likens them to critters of the wild, will win the public over.
And with our nature of imagining creatures of the wild in a Wind in the Willows manner, street folk renamed could find themselves in the lap of luxury, growing quickly fatter than many of the new donors.
The advantage for the government could be the raising of the standing – or lying – of a section of society not exactly exalted presently. Continues on the blogs for my ocean travel book, Sailing to Purgatory, at SailingToPurgatory.com

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