Questioning the Beggar and Raising the Dead

Such is the deplorable degradation of modern-day English that many of us have forgotten all but the simplest formulae for effective communication. Indeed, it has become apparent that few, if any, of the under-93's have enough basic linguistic acumen even to question the beggar correctly.
spare some change?

Take the miserable specimen on the right, a typical sample of modern London's street furniture. Instead of asking pointless closed questions like- are you really hungry? which will inevitably be answered in the affirmative, better by far is to challenge with an open question- if you're so hungry, how come you're fat? or, if you have an eye for detail- if you're on the streets, why are your boots not worn? That's the way we used to do it, when Shakespeare was a boy and language was language.
you poor old sod, you see it's only me

Of course, not all beggars should be questioned in the same way. Should you be fortunate enough to encounter Aqualung himself, the only correct question is- Do you still remember December's foggy freeze when the ice that clings onto your beard was screaming agony? Such a question, I submit, transcends beggary and enters the realm of empathy, seeing the human being through the rags and dirt. That's how to question the deserving beggar and it certainly did all right for Ian Anderson. But reserve such questions for the real article, not the cadgers.

Aqualung is arguably the greatest beggar of modern times, having ousted Gandhi from the number one slot. But we shouldn't knock Gandhi's achievement. He it was, and he alone, who reopened the whole beggary competition which for two thousand years had been deemed closed. Lazarus, you see, had long been considered the beggar supreme. Something similar happened in 1930's body-building with Charles Atlas of the scintillating phrase- you too can have a body like mine. Bollox you can!
a body like mine

The trouble with Lazarus is that there is always some confusion surrounding him. It's not hard really, but there were two of them. Lazarus the beggar died (unquestioned) and somehow alighted on Abraham's bosom which must have been of a size with Atlas's. His beggee (a beggar needs a beggee, ok?) was the rich man, Dives (with two syllables) who went straight to hell for not correctly questioning his personal beggar. And quite right too - what an opportunity missed, your own private beggar on the doorstep.

But the other Lazarus was the friend of Jesus, whom He managed to raise from the dead. Now, I'm not going to tell you how to do this. I think it's probably quite tricky. But you know, if you're setting off to see one of your mates who's sick, and if he pops his clogs before you arrive, well, just give it a go. Why not? Take his hand and ask him to get up and walk. After all, what have you got to lose? The guy's dead!


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