WHY do beggars make me feel guilty? I approach the quiet ones, who sit on a coat by a wall with a few coins in front of them, with a sense of unease.
Am I being conned? Are they accentuating their appearance of distress with the full intention of pulling my emotional strings? Do they really have a car parked round the corner in which they will later drive home to sausage and chips and Coronation Street?
If they have a dog with them, should I buy a tin of pet food and give them that together with a can opener? This is always a retrospective thought. I have never actually put it into practice.
Many years ago, my wife Maria worked at the Huddersfield Co-operative Department Store at the site now occupied by Wilkinson's. One winter's night she was involved in stock taking. The staff came out at about 10 o'clock into below freezing temperatures.
By this time, a middle aged chap had already settled down for the night in a thin sleeping bag lined with insulating newspaper (one of the many uses of the Examiner) on a sheet of cardboard in an unused doorway.
His face was turned away, possibly to avoid attention when the pubs closed.
I was shivering in my boots as I waited for my wife and I had a winter coat on and was stamping my feet to keep warm. Maria joined me and, before we went to the car, I stuck a £20 note in his hand. No words, just the note.
“You've just given him my wages for stock taking,” Maria said.