An Encounter With A Ragged-Trousered Philanthropist

Last time I bumped into a ragged-trousered philanthropist in the street, I berated him for his dishevelment. Would it not be meet, I suggested, were he to pay more attention to his toilet? I held before his eyes the image of Beau Brummell, as an exemplar of attention to detail in masculine dress. Do you think for one minute, I keened, that Brummell would ever have stepped out of doors wearing ragged trousers?

But Brummell was not a philanthropist, countered the ragged-trousered philanthropist, and he pressed a coin into my palm. I realised he had mistaken me for a mendicant. It is true that my own apparel was somewhat raggedy, but I can admire Beau Brummell without attempting to emulate him.

Here, have your coinage back, I said, I have no need of it.

Ungrateful swine!, shouted the philanthropist, and he slapped my face. The slap was done with his bare hand. Had it been a glove, I would have taken it as a challenge to engage in a duel. As he refused to take back his coin, I tossed it into the gutter.

Let a guttersnipe profit from your philanthropy, I said, rubbing my cheek, and away I pranced, in the bitter sunshine.

At the corner, I paused, and turned, and waited until the ragged-trousered philanthropist was out of sight. Then I hastened back to retrieve the coin from the gutter. Before I could do so, however, an eagle-eyed guttersnipe, attracted by its silvery glint, appeared from nowhere and scooped it up.

I brandished my stick and beat the urchin insensible. I prised the coin from his grasp and then rifled through his filthy pockets to find what treasures lay therein. String, elastic bands, paper clips, a boiled sweet, but no more coinage. I left the guttersnipe, battered and bloody, in the gutter, and went on my way, in the bitter sunshine.

Exercise : The narrator is clearly wallowing in a moral sewer. Describe this sewer, as vividly as you are able, and populate it with other figures, both historical and fictional, who you think are likely to be found there.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.