When you enter a railway station, shopping centre or other large indoor space, you'll often find that all the horizontal surfaces above the ground are covered with short spikes. This is to discourage pigeons and other birds from entering the space by giving them no place to perch. Somebody has decided to apply the same principle to the homeless. A couple of areas where people regularly sleep rough have had the ground covered by rows of spikes to make lying down there too uncomfortable. The first appeared in the doorway of a block of luxury apartments in
but others have been installed under flyovers and on low window ledges. This
has caused a media scandal, see: http://www.channel4.com/news/londons-anti-homeless-spikes-criticised.
The subtext is that homeless people are to be treated as a pest like pigeons. They
have no place in society; they are even no longer human. I find it ironic that
in his book Down and Out in Paris and
London George Orwell reveals that the nickname for a homeless hostel in the
1920's was a "spike", see: http://hpanwo-tv.blogspot.co.uk/2011/10/down-and-out-in-oxford.html.
With increasing poverty more and more people are losing their homes and are
forced to sleep outdoors and these spikes are effectively punishing them for
that. This is not the first time this kind of thing has been done. There's a
park in Oxford near a place called Manzil
Way which used to be a gathering place for
homeless people, but then the council put in new benches specially designed not
to be comfortable to sit on for too long. So the homeless moved elsewhere. Naturally
Katie Hopkins supports the spikes... or says she does, see: http://www.closeronline.co.uk/2014/06/katie-hopkins-supports-anti-homeless-spikes-would-you-want-vermin-in-your-doorway.
(I've written about Katie Hopkins before, see: http://hpanwo-voice.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/uniforms-for-unemployed.html.
The more I listen to her odious tirades the more I question her sincerity. I
wonder if she's acting out a role cast for her by the media, or perhaps she's
just stirring up controversy for its own sake; Christopher Hitchens without the
brains!) I sometimes read The Big Issue
and talk to the vendors about life on the streets. One man told me that he
hates begging and wished he didn't have to do it. He says it's nice when people
give him a few coins, but it's almost
as nice when the decline politely. What really hurts is when they just walk past
him without even looking at him, acting as if he's not there. It's
dehumanizing, just like those spikes. So always reply to a beggar when they
approach you, even if it's just to say "no".