Dear So broke,
Auntie doesn’t know “beggar etiquette” either, but it’s pleasing to find a fellow giver out there. But that’s enough of the liberal hand-wringing. AUNTIE demands ACTION. First things first: screw those selfish Daily Mail-reading bastard commuters on your train. That Roma woman (complete with child in face) is a bloody human being for God’s sake; only she’s homeless and destitute in a strange, unwelcoming country and needs our help.
Whether you give her money or not, at least try and talk to her and find out her situation. You might think of carrying a handy contact list of refugee groups for her to get in touch with. By treating beggars with respect, you”ll make those around you feel guilty and maybe, just maybe, shame them into being a bit nicer.
But Auntie doesn’t buy the “can’t afford to give money to everyone” line. That sounds like “beggar fatigue”, a well-known mean-spirited condition suffered by backpackers in poor countries. Think how many one-, two- and five-pence coins are down the back of your sofa. Auntie sub-commands you to fill your pockets and give generously.
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Dear Auntie _ War, famine, economic depression and global warming - the idea that 'another world is possible' seems remoter than ever. Will we ever have a just and peaceful world? _ Desperate for peace, Preston
Dear Auntie _ At one of the Gaza protests in London, Stop the War put the number of protesters at around 100,000 but the police insisted it was only 20,000. Can Auntie reassure me that the Met has a scientific methodology for estimating crowd numbers? _ Numberless in London
Dear Auntie, All my left-wing friends seem to be overjoyed about Obama winning the US election, holding real hope that he will bring change, that he'll stop the wars, and that he'll somehow make America all cuddly and nice. But haven't we been here before? I'm getting flashbacks to the expectations people had of politicians like Tony Blair and Bill Clinton, and how quickly they betrayed us. Is it terrible that I think Obama will be just more of the same? Hopeless, London
Dear Auntie, Having reached 50, I've become invisible. It's the only explanation of why people look right through me. I'm ignored in shops and at bus stops; and getting served at the bar is an endurance test, as men and younger women always take priority. I have a lifetime of experience as an activist, but these days there's always a 'Darren' or 'Ryan' whose opinion matters more. I'd go as far as saying they don't even hear me speak! It seems white hair and wrinkles are taken as an early indication of Alzheimer's. But I'm not ready to go gently into the night and as Auntie looks of a similar age, does she have any advice? The invisible woman, London
Dear Auntie, _ My daughter is starting to ask awkward questions such as 'Mum, did you take drugs when you were young?' I don't want to lie but I don't want her to venture down the same route. What do I tell her? _ Amy in London
Dear Auntie, _ I'm a vegetarian who is fed up having to justify why I don't eat anything with a face on it. And it's the environmentalists who are also meat eaters who seem the most personally affronted by my choices. Do you have any suggestions how I can deal with this? _ Chickpea not chicken lover, Totnes