They veer towards me,
as bees to nectar.
They beseech me for money.
by the round, chubby face,
the placid, kindly smile.
If only they could sense the truth.
If only they knew, that beneath
this benign exterior, this sheath,
beats the hardened heart
– grudging anyone their due –
of a thick-skinned skinflint
– and a Yorkshireman, too!
“Mistaken Identity” can be read as a kind of companion-piece to the poem “Local Identity”, which I published last month. In “Local Identity” I was complaining about how I seem to be constantly assailed by people on the street stopping me and asking me for directions to places I’ve never heard of. “Mistaken Identity” is on the similar theme of how I am also constantly assailed by people on the street stopping me and asking me for money. I hasten to point out that I do feel sympathy for people who are in genuine distress, and I would like to help out, if I could; but, in a lot of cases, I get the impression that I am seen as a “soft touch” by scroungers trying to fund their next can of super-strength lager.
For anyone puzzled by the last line of the poem – I come from South Yorkshire, and Yorkshiremen have an unfair reputation for being Scrooge-like with their money.