It was 2pm and I was on my way to the British Library to do some research. As I often do en route to my second home I went for a chicken dinner, this time to a diner I’d never used before, adjacent to Kings Cross station. This area has a bad reputation, and deserves it; it is a regular haunt of whores, pushers and sundry lowlife. A few months previously the police had mounted a big operation to clean it up, but you wouldn’t think so today.
As I was standing at the counter of the chicken diner, one of the local lowlife walked in. Six foot plus of unwashed, dreadlocked street trash. He’d obviously been sleeping rough because no landlord in his right mind would rent a room to a man like him, even if he could somehow scrape together the money for the rent. This guy was bad, and I mean baaaad, your worst nightmare. He would have turned the stomach of the most whinging, liberal CARF-reading, “anti-racist” creep. He walked straight up to the counter and asked the Asian serving me for a drink of water; the man refused but offered to sell him a bottle of mineral water for seventy pence. The guy wanted a free cup though, and was polite enough at first. Or at least he wasn’t impolite. The water was still seventy pence.
The lowlife soon became agitated at the server’s refusal, and preened his locks in front of the mirror, shaking his hair and probably showering me with fleas into the bargain. By this time the server had taken a plastic bottle of mineral water from the refrigerator and proferred it to him. Obviously the dread didn’t have any money. I say dread but apart from the long, tangled locks, there was nothing remotely Rastafarian about him. Real Rastafarians keep their hair clean; this guy had an English accent, or near enough, and if you didn’t see his face you’d quite likely think he was white. Whatever, he didn’t have two pennies to rub together, which was probably the reason he wanted me to pay for his refreshment. I declined.
This prompted him to ask why not. I replied because I didn’t want to.
“Am I bothering you?” he asked.
“Not yet”, I replied in my usual provocative/humorous manner.
Needless to say, he found the comment more provocative than humorous but was more intent on giving the server aggravation than me. At some point he snatched a handful of paper serviettes from behind the counter and began wiping his face with them. This went down very badly with the server, and he demanded the dread return them. I thought the situation might deteriorate, but the guy wasn’t really looking for aggro, just a free drink.
Against my will I felt a bit sorry for him, and if he’d displayed a little humility or asked me nicely I’d probably have bought him a coke. As things happened he soon left the takeaway and I sat down to feast on my chicken dinner.
Passing Kings Cross station a few minutes later, I watched a whore ply her trade. This one was white. I’ve always found it difficult to judge people’s ages, especially women’s, but she was obviously younger than she looked. Whores usually start out attractive, but as the years pass they become markedly less so. This one was still passably attractive, but I still wouldn’t touch her with a barge pole as long as there are dogs on the street.
I watched her as she propositioned a bearded man in his thirties or forties. The guy had an overnight bag at his feet and was standing around killing time.
“Business, love?” she asked.
He declined politely, raising a smile.
The dread and the whore have two things in common; they are both underclass, üntermensch in fact, and for the most part totally unemployable. The dread probably has a string of convictions for burglary and similar offences, which would certainly rule him out as a potential bank clerk or nursery worker. The whore probably has convictions for soliciting, and is probably none too bright into the bargain. She is doing probably the only thing she can do to make an honest living; about the only person who would employ her is a pimp, and she’s undoubtedly better off without one. Probably the only way the dread could make an honest living is by selling drugs. That’s a lot of probablys, but they add up to a definite negative in both cases.
Ironically, both are/would be breaking the law by making an honest living. Although prostitution is not illegal, soliciting is, so theoretically the whore could be arrested for approaching men in the street in such fashion, and almost certainly has been many times. Because of the hysteria over drugs, the dread can’t sell them legally, and even more ironically, if drugs were legalised he still wouldn’t be able to make a living selling them because in that case they would be marketed in a similar fashion to cigarettes and sold by Superdrug, your local caf&eactue; and Mr Patel in his corner shop.
The likes of the dread especially are recognised as an underclass, but the way they are portrayed and even worse the way they are treated, by the powers-that-be, is indicative of the way almost the entire population has been brainwashed by the outmoded and misplaced Protestant ethic, which as the Oxford English Dictionary says is “the ethical outlook towards business enterprise...that to be successful through hard work is a person’s duty and responsibility”. This is from Calvin. Stuff Calvin.
I would go so far as to say that the real lowlife under the current régime are not the likes of the dread and the whore, but the people who attempt to regulate, and ultimately to destroy them. These are the vast army of social security and unemployment bureaucrats, benefit snoops and other agents of state oppression.
A few years ago I watched a documentary about homelessness. Accompanied by a hidden camera, a former soldier went undercover posing as a down-and-out in London. He went along to a benefit office to try to claim a hand-out, and the first thing they instructed him to do was to register for work. Did anyone ever hear of anything so stupid? A guy is on the street, like with no roof over his head, man, his pockets empty, he doesn’t know where his next meal is coming from, and the first thought that enters these morons’ heads is that he must register for work: able-bodied, ready and willing. Like an employer in late 20th Century Britain is going to take on a labourer who is sleeping on the street. This is the age of laser printed CVs; nowadays if you don’t have an E-mail address you are a non-entity, much less a telephone, and in order to qualify for benefit, and a meal, this guy, and countless thousands like him, has to register as able-bodied and actively seeking work.
Let’s return to the dread, this is a guy who no one in his right mind will employ, not employ with a capital E, although he may just, and I mean just, find the odd casual job here and there, a few hours work doing this or that. Now he comes up against the poverty trap.
A report in the Guardian a couple of years ago claimed that “benefit fraud” costs the government up to £7 billion a year. (1) This can only be described as a ludicrous figure; a little arithmetic demolishes this claim. If one million people were actively engaged in benefit fraud - another ludicrous figure - we are looking at £7 billion divided by one million or an average of £7,000 a year defrauded by each and every one. There have been occasional well-documented cases of massive benefit fraud by organised criminal gangs, but most so-called fraud is not fraud at all in any meaningful sense, it is the result of people caught in the poverty trap attempting to better themselves or simply to keep their heads above water by making the proverbial few quid on the side.
Some time previous to my run-in with the dread, more than two years previously to be precise, on the evening of August 25, 1998 (2) I boarded a train from Victoria to Penge East. At Victoria a young man got on; I think he may have been of Indian extraction; he was in such a state it was difficult to tell. He walked up the train begging from people. I don’t usually give money to people begging, well, sometimes, but I’d just won a bronze medal in the MindSports Olympiad and I was feeling in rather a good mood as well as realising that there but for the grace...
One of the passengers he tried to tap unsuccessfully was a middle aged man with a deep voice who may have been an Australian. He told the beggar he didn’t have any change but: “if I did, I wouldn’t give it to you”. Or words to that effect.
As the young man moved up the train the tourist turned to the man sitting next to him, a young black man, and said “He’s got two arms and two legs; he can work like the rest of us.”
I was tempted to ask this fellow, “Would you employ him?” but that would of course have been a rhetorical question.
So what is the point of this dissertation? As I write these words, the British government has finally conceded that the Millennium Dome has been a total waste of money. They’ve squandered maybe a billion pounds on this white elephant cum albatross. For that sort of money they could have taken every dosser, every lowlife, every street trash, every unfortunate - deserving and otherwise - off not only the streets of London but off the streets of Britain and housed them in half-decent accommodation.
The dread at Kings Cross will always be an arsehole, and the whore will ply her trade until she is so revolting and eaten up with AIDS or some other vile disease that not even the lowest of the low will touch her, but these people are not the real lowlife. These people are what I once heard described as genetic crap. You can’t improve them because rottenness is in their genes, but it is not a malign rottenness. They are only as rotten as they need to be to get by, to survive.
The real lowlife are the arseholes who run the system which is designed to keep the dread and the whore in their places. I’ve met more than a few of these people in my time. They are control freaks par excellence; for the most part they operate anonymously and with blanket immunity for their dastardly deeds. They are the likes of that disgusting little lowlife Benefits Agency “fraud investigator”, the one who crossed me, and subsequently wished she hadn’t. They are the bureaucrats who supervise the likes of her, the lawyers who draft the incredibly tortuous legislation which criminalises anyone like the dread when he tries to make an honest buck.
These people created the poverty trap, and the social security system - the safety net which none of us is ever supposed to fall through - is first and foremost their gravy train. I know that from personal experience. Some time ago I calculated that they must have spent upwards of a million pounds trying to destroy me personally in order to avoid paying me the pittance to which I was entitled. No, this is not paranoia. I’ve been there and have the scars to prove it.
I’m not saying that these people are all totally worthless or even totally uncaring, although most of the ones I’ve met are. But just as an alcoholic will do anything to stop delirium tremens except stop drinking, so the control freaks - including our wonderful Prime Minister Blair - will do anything to help the poor except give them money. (3)
The purpose of the current régime is first and foremost to keep the great unwashed in their place. In short, it is a form of people control. In recent years we have heard many fine slogans, most notably “A hand-up, not a hand-out”, from Chancellor Gordon Brown, who has, it must be stressed, made considerable efforts to assist what might be termed the deserving poor, but what has he done for the likes of the dread? What could anybody do for the likes of him?
Well, they could give him a basic income, to start with. Basic income, National Dividend, Social Credit, whatever you want to call it. But will they? Of course not. They would rather pay an army of benefit assessors, investigators, advisors, probation officers, lawyers and even prison officers to keep him in his place than give him a non-means tested hand-out to drag him out of the gutter to which a combination of bad genes, bad environment and bad luck has confined him, and will till the day he dies.
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