Sprawled on the Sunday Telegraph,
A blanket round his knees,
He coughed and waved and said ‘Hey, Guv,
Pound for an orange, please?’
It startled me to hear his voice.
I’m sure you would agree –
An orange seemed the oddest choice.
Why not a cup of tea?
I don’t know why I lingered there
As buses came and went.
I heard a tale so sweet and rare
Inside his makeshift tent.
Eric told me of one winter time
When he’d been left alone –
Kids gathered round a Christmas pine
Inside the children’s home.
An orange hung from every tip,
One fruit for every child;
While all around him licked their lips,
He watched in awe and smiled.
Four years old and just arrived,
He had no friends as such;
He stood amongst them, mesmerised,
But didn’t dare to touch.
Before too long the tree was cleared,
The harvest all consumed;
The oranges had disappeared,
The muslin bags all strewn.
But Eric’s heart had ceased to pound
And no one heard him sigh –
There weren’t enough to go around;
He went to bed to cry.
He just could not believe his eyes
When at last he woke;
He took some time to realise
That it was not some joke.
A heap of muslin bags were there,
Arranged upon the bed;
Each one assembled with great care
And each one tied with thread.
As every bag he opened up,
He smiled and felt so rich,
For every child had offered up
At least one segment each.
Eric coughed and closed his eyes,
His tale had all been told.
I didn’t want to moralise
As I left him in the cold.
For you might call me gullible
If I believed one word.
It may not have been credible,
But I loved what I’d heard.
I’m not sure if I trusted him,
But do I really care?
He earned the feast I got for him,
‘Cos that was only fair.