Wednesday, 13 February 2013

London Nights



Why is it that people jump to the wrong conclusion when they see me dressed in my usual attire?

Some time ago I went to London to stay with friends and I was told that one of them goes out at night with members of his church to go to London parks and feed the poor and the down-and-outs.

Would I like to join them?

On the day in question a van from his church called at his house and he and I and two others drove into London just before 10 o’clock at night.

We parked the van by the roadside and it broke my heart to see literally dozens of people sitting on the wet grass waiting our arrival.
“Word soon gets around” I was told “they tell each other that we’re here by around 10 and every time we come there’s more of them!”

“There’s another van parked a hundred yards away” I said.

“Yes … it’s another church. We’re glad they come too because we couldn’t cope on our own!”

I was given a big box full or pre-wrapped sandwiches which the ladies in church had prepared and I walked by the park edge handing them out as the vagrants got up and went to the van for a hot drink.

By the time I had emptied my box of sandwiches I had reached the other van from the other church.

“Hello … you are new here” said a middle-aged lady from near her van “I haven’t seen you before!”

“Yes … this is my first time here …” I smiled back.

“Would you like a sandwich?” she asked “and a cup of soup? We have chicken and tomatoes, which do you prefer?”

“Oh no …” I smiled, “I don’t need anything to eat … thanks!”

“Do sit down …” she interrupted, “the chicken soup is hot and tasty … I made it myself!”

Before I could answer she was joined by another lady who said “He’s probably shy, Mary! It’s very difficult for some of them to accept our help.”

I was about to explain when Mary interrupted again “You look very cold my dear … this jacket you’re wearing has seen better days … we have a spare coat in the van … about your size I should say … let me get it …”

“No … no … you don’t understand” I protested with a smile hiding the insult at my authentic 12 years old tweed jacket, “I am not one of the poor people. I came here to help with my friend from another church!”

“Now you’ve embarrassed him …” said the other lady to Mary, “either that, or the poor man is hallucinating … it happens when they’ve been drinking … does he smell of drink?”

I’ll have you know dear readers that I do not smell of drink but always of the best after-shave lotion I can buy for a few pennies down the market. This farce had got on too far and it was time I put these two lovely well-meaning ladies straight.

“Look ladies …” I said calmly yet authoritatively, “believe it or not, I am not here to ask for food or drink or clothing. I came with my friend from another church to help feed these poor people. I came in the van parked … parked … over … there!!!

“Where has the van gone? Where’s my friend and the other two people from his church? Did you see them leave?”

“Never mind …” said Mary in her sweet voice, “sit down here and try this soup and sandwich … I’ll go get you the coat!”

As she left I told the other woman, “I don’t know what’s going on. My friend is from St Bartholomew church. Do you know it?

“He’s gone and left me stranded here … can you help me please and give me a lift in your van to his house? It’s near the church.”

“Oh no …” she replied, “we’re not allowed to take passengers in our van. It’s only for us to come here and serve food …”

She walked away hurriedly and stopped Mary who was coming towards us with a coat. They both moved towards the van at speed. A man came out of the van towards me and said “Here friend … I have something for you …” and handed me two sandwiches.

He then jumped in the van and they drove off.

I gave the two sandwiches to two men sitting nearby and hurried as quickly as my legs would carry me towards the main road where I stopped a taxi and went home.

“Why did you drive off and leave me?” I asked.

“We thought you’d gone into town to see the London sites” was the jovial unperturbed reply.

“But … but … I was wearing my cowboy hat with a large feather in it … clearly visible from afar … what do you want me to do? Put on a flashing light on top so you can see it from miles away?????”
This story is dedicated to someone I know who does a lot of good work feeding the poor at night in London.

12 comments:

  1. Oh gosh, this reminds me of the time I went on a diet and a kind lady from church offered to bring me some homemade meals:-O Must have looked kind of needy.

    It's sad to think of people in the cold with nowhere to go, especially in your cold winters. The children and I used to visit a nursing home but it's been so easy to forget about the poor and the elderly, since we stopped. Thanks for the inspiring post, Victor.

    God bless:-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Greetings Vicky,

      How nice to see you visiting here again. Welcome and thank you.

      Yes ... UK winters can be very cold. We've had snow yet again which can be very hard on the homeless in London and elsewhere. I remember years ago in the luxurious part of London I saw homeless people huddled on the ground at the back of posh hotels trying to get some warmth from the air vents at street level on the hotel walls. At the front of the hotel the concierges were welcoming guests arriving in expensive cars wearing furs and jewellery. I saw both sides of London those days.

      God bless you Vicky.

      Delete
  2. You sure get yourself into some messes, Victor ;) Great story and a good reminder to not forget those who are homeless and hungry!

    I just read your comment above. This is the sad truth of our world today. I see it in our cities too.

    God bless!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sadly Mary things are getting worse over here with the economic situation. A lot of towns and cities have food banks which distribute parcels of food to those who can't even feed themselves because of lack of money. The rich man and Lazarus at his gate exist for real all right!

      God bless you Mary.

      Delete
  3. Victor, I agree with Mary, you sure do get yourself into some situations!!!

    You are a gifted storyteller. And yes, the rich man and Lazarus at his gate do very much exist today!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Daily Grace,

      Is it my authentic 12 years old tweed jacket or my after-shave that made those women mis-judge me so?

      True, poverty really exists here in the UK.

      God bless.

      Delete
  4. Wonderful as always!!!! Made my day! so it's off to work!!! Wishing you well! Cathy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Cathy for your support and encouragement. I hope you have a lovely weekend.

      God bless.

      Delete
  5. Very funny and very sad. My heart goes out to the homeless. My husband and I share our veggies from the garden to people in our neighborhood who are less well off than we. The drought has hammered our harvests the past two years but we still were able to help out. Lent is a great time to get in the habit of sharing.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Barbara,

      You're right. Lent is a great reminder of the suffering others go through. Poverty is on the increase around here.

      God bless.

      Delete
  6. I think it is wonderful that the churches near you do that. That being said, this could only happen to you, Victor!

    God Bless!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Michael,

      It's good that many churches do this sort of work. It's sad that it is needed.

      I can't understand why those women thought of me as they did!

      God bless you.

      Delete

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