As I go way downtown to visit my warehouse and my 3,000 square feet of space which houses the junk awarded to me by Judge Arnold Gold three years ago (and which consists about 98 % of my ex’s and my children’s unwanted belongings and all of my memories), I usually stop at a Starbucks to fortify myself, and inevitably am pan-handled on the way in and on the way out by surprisingly energetic homeless people.
And of course, like everyone else, the thought crosses my mind why don’t they do some sort of work?
I am reminded of a very old story about the work ethic, possibly started some time after the First World War.
At the Chelsea Pensioners’ Hospital next to the Royal Borough of Kensington, Queen Mary (the one with the hat) was making her usual rounds, reviewing and bringing comfort and words of encouragement to the elderly wounded bemedalled old soldiers lining the walls on crutches, some in wheelchairs, and some restricted to their beds, many missing a limb or two.
Without fail, she would always ask and always be told that every single one of them did some kind of work, simple but honest work.
On this particular day, she was being brought out of the premises to leave in her carriage, when off to the side she noticed a small curtained-off room, and asked what was in there. The Colonel escorting her explained that a rather special case was kept isolated from the rest, and it was better if royal eyes did not see him.
This piqued her curiosity no end, and her host explained that the reason was that he was very badly wounded, disfigured, blind, and extremely deaf, and there was no point.
So she demanded to meet him, and they drew the curtain, and square in the middle of a sheet lay a man with no arms and no legs, no ears, nose, mouth or hair, wearing the remains of a uniform and a single medal.
She was overcome, and leant in close to shout in his earhole that she was terribly pleased to meet him, and wished to give him encouragement, particularly since he was obviously unable to work, and thus keep up with his fellow patients.
His face crumpled. “Oh, you’re quite wrong” he whispered back to her majesty.
“My goodness”, said the Queen, “What kind of work do you do?”
“Ma’am”, he explained with pride, “I’m a paperweight”.