Letter: Charity on the Tube

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Sir: Last Wednesday afternoon at 4.15 the driver of the northbound Victoria line train arriving at Finsbury Park in North London addressed his passengers.

He had observed that there were "didicois" on the train who, he said, already had our money in terms of social hand-outs and he admonished us not to give any more money to the "gypos".

It was the sort of traditional homily we used to suffer from the very occasional taxi-driver, the only difference being that the train driver can broadcast his racism without being answered back and reminded that the "gypos" went to Hitler's concentration camps along with the "yids" and the "poofs".

He was, of course, encouraged by London Transport's relayed announcements that "begging and busking are illegal", often elaborated with the ingenious warning that if you give them money the pickpockets will discover where you keep it.

I take this opportunity to inform London Underground that I will take every opportunity my pensioner's pocket permits to give small change (I keep it in my right-hand trouser pocket) to beggars and buskers in the Tube system.

Travelling by Underground already requires more faith and hope than can reasonably be afforded. Charity may be left to the individual conscience.


London N4