Prince spends night on the street

Compassion rules the Royal Isle:

LONDON—A cold alley in central London is a far cry from a palace—but it was the spot Prince William chose to sleep to highlight the plight of homeless British teenagers.

He spent a chilly night near Blackfriars Bridge last week with Seyi Obakin, the chief executive of British homeless charity Centrepoint. William has been the charity’s patron since 2005.

“I cannot, after one night, even begin to imagine what it must be like to sleep rough on London’s streets night after night,” William said Tuesday. “Poverty, mental illness, drug and alcohol dependancy and family breakdown cause people to become and then stay homeless.

“I hope that by deepening my understanding of the issue, I can help do my bit to help the most vulnerable on our streets.”

To regain a little perspective, William ought to see Preston Sturges’s 1941 comedy, Sullivan’s Travels, about a successful but lightweight Hollywood director, played by Joel McCrea, who suddenly gets the idea making a socially significant movie about poverty. As preparation for the film, he decides to go on a journey and live among poor people. His butler, played by the hilarious Eric Blor (who appeared in several of the Astaire-Rogers movies), tries to dissuade him:

Butler: The poor know all about poverty and only the morbid rich would find the topic glamorous.

Sullivan: But I’m doing it for the poor. Don’t you understand?

Butler: I doubt if they would appreciate it, sir. They rather resent the invasion of their privacy … I believe quite properly, sir. Also, such excursions can be extremely dangerous, sir … You see, sir, rich people and theorists, who are usually rich people, think of poverty in the negative, as the lack of riches, as disease might be called the lack of health, but it isn’t, sir. Poverty is not the lack of anything, but a positive plague, virulent in itself, contagious as cholera, with Filth, Criminality, Vice and Despair as only a few of its symptoms. It is to be stayed away from, even for purposes of study. It is to be shunned.

Sullivan: Well, you seem to have made quite a study of it.

Butler: Quite unwillingly, sir. Will that be all, sir?

Posted by Lawrence Auster at December 22, 2009 02:33 PM | Send

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