Believe it or not there are trends among beggars. I’m thinking here in particular of the ones who sit on the sidewalk with a little cardboard sign that they hope will arouse sympathy. Apparently they are not, as a group, very literarily inclined, because I often see panhandlers with identical messages on their signs. I suppose one of them gets what seems like a good idea and then everybody copies it. On the Boulevard de la Madeleine this summer there was a sudden surge of beggars with signs bearing a two-part appeal: “Aidez moi pour manger. Dieu vous protège” (“Help me so I can eat. God protect you”). Trying to arouse the spirit of Christian charity in a mostly Catholic country – fair enough. However, not only did a single person make up the message, a single person must have mass-produced the actual signs, because they all have the same layout problem. It’s a glitch in the line breaks, not aided by the lack of punctuation: the top line, in big bold, readily legible letters, says “Aidez Moi Pour Manger Dieu” and “vous protège” appears in small, faint letters underneath. So the message you get if you’re striding briskly by is, “Help me so I can eat God.” Now there’s a charitable cause I can gladly support. David Jaggard
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An album of David Jaggard’s comic compositions is now available for streaming on Spotify and Apple Music, for purchase (whole or track by track) on iTunes and Amazon, and on every other music downloading service in the known universe, under the title “Totally Unrelated.”
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