A neighbour moves out and Yours Truly volunteers to help him with some lugging of the weighty stuff I see filling the compact living space. He's pleased to get the hand.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
The original Dick Whittington ... From the title page of The Famous and Remarkable History of Sir Richard Whittington, Three Times Lord-Mayor of London (1770). Thanks to Wikipedia. By Fleet, Thomas, 1732-1797, printer; Fleet, John, 1734-1806, printer - Boston Public Library copy of chapbook (1770), uploaded in Internet Archive, Public Domain,
Harry (let’s call him) is a fellow of very limited funds who has been here working for as a sort of butler handyman, cook, plongeur, shopper, all rolled rather uncomfortably into one.

His pay: the equivalent of Pound Shop peanuts.

He’s an older fellow, perhaps late sixties, who knows now that Dick Whittington’s streets paved with gold haven’t survived.

Hoping to do well

He came here from the Indian subcontinent, hoping to do well.

He learned that hard work alone isn’t sufficient to reach the level of those who succeed.

However, Fortune did help with a council flat earmarked for the needy.

Because he possessed so little, a few necessities for life – a cooker, a fridge, and a few sticks of furniture – were donated by the council.

The Dick Whittington promise of London hasn’t worked, especially as the employers paid little more than slave rates yet demanded – not asked – his presence for extensive hours. It’s a sad tale, though sadly not uncommon. This one, however, does come with a surprise denouement.

His rent is all paid up and he has an initial deposit of several hundred pounds to get back and that will be sufficient for the ticket home.

Expecting the refund to depend on the return of the council furniture, he asked the council when they might collect it.

Definitely not the electrical bits, they said. What? Everyone needs a cooker and fridge.
They offered a price for the collection. ‘I am to be paying for the council to collect their own furniture?’ He felt sure he must have misunderstood. Oh, yes, they said, they’ll collect the items, but he must pay for the transport back to the council warehouse.

Harry’s only funds are in that deposit. No problem, says the council. The deposit’ll cover it.

In reality, that’s quite a problem because the deposit is to buy Harry’s ticket home. You want the refund, they said. Then the flat must be cleared of everything.

I offered to help, and used good old Gumtree to advertise the flat’s contents.

Highly desired

Several items went quickly, but a lot that those in need would treasure remained. I asked Kingston Community Furniture if they would like the ex-council fridge, cooker and dressing table, and an armchair.

Definitely not the electrical bits, they said. What? Everyone needs a cooker and fridge.

However, just as if electric gadgets were new and feared in our world, they can’t be taken. Why? Just can’t be. And it wasn’t just electrics that the charity shunned.

They turned down the old-fashioned dressing table. Could it be, ha ha, that desperate families insist on modernity in helpful handouts?

Same with a comfortable armchair. Same with a couple of quite smart dining table chairs. So much for the best intentions of helping those still struggling.

Harry and I heaved the cooker and the unwanted furniture to the rubbish collection centre. Pity that rain forecast for tonight will ensure what helped Harry is unlikely to help anyone else.

Thanks very much for visiting the mostly Tuesday and Thursday blogs for my adventure book, Sailing to Purgatory, which are introduced each time on Facebook Facebook dot com/Sailingtopurgatory and on Blogger,

Indian subcontinent

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