Letter: Tories to blame for the beggars' plight

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Sir: I would heartily agree with Suzanne Moore's article on safer streets (8 January). We need a better, richer street life.

Buskers are an important ingredient - they do not need purging from our streets but should be encouraged to do better. The old buskers who worked the West End theatre queues of the 1950s were part of an honourable and richly inventive tradition with not a guitar among them. The man who made ladders out of rolled-up newspaper, climbing three storeys on a windless day; the bone and spoon man; the woman with the strident voice who sang "Mother McCree" in your ear until you paid her to go away; the three acrobats and a barrel-organ in Leicester Square; the old gent with the wind-up gramophone who did a tap-dance routine. All these, and many more, made street life entertaining, rich and enjoyable.

After all, whatever the police and the bureaucrats do, we shall never really be rid of them, nor can they be confined to tourist areas. The more they are purged the worse will be their performance. Let us encourage them to give us good entertainment.

Fr MICHAEL DAY

London E5

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