Happy Easter from Portsmouth

I had a lovely day today in Portsmouth. I thought if Chelsea are going to let Manchester United win 2–0 I might as well do my first ever sports bet. I bet a monkey on it and used the winnings to help a homeless beggar girl with a 6 year old daughter she rarely sees find some accommodation for the night.

When I told her I’d won she asked me for a tenner, Shirley-b I think she said her name was, but the odds came in so I gave her £80 and she wanted to quickly hide it from the homeless boys who had been watching us both I was discreet passing it over and I kept my stake for a rainy day.

We had a bit of a chat about how begging corrodes your human dignity and she said she’d only being doing it for 4 months and I was right that it ‘turns you inside out.’ I could relate to that as I’ve been at it 35 years with my Dad so I thought I’d ask if she wanted to come to church with me then she pulled out her bible and said she’d been reading already and I didn’t have the courage to pry too far less her theological smarts put me to shame.

So I gave her a flyer for the service I was going to that I’d picked up earlier and said I hoped I’d see her there one day then I wished her well she said she might go next week. But would I go now as siting with me was putting off the potential donors because I looked too posh.

I hoped she wouldn’t really use the £80 for drugs and told her it didn’t cost me anything to give it to her so she felt less like it was a begging gain and more like a divine gift which was kind of true because I found it in the Coral near the bottom of Southsea. At least something good can come from a Manchester United win for once I reasoned! Because god knows they are a greedy nefarious bunch.

She’d already had a meal but I got her 3 litres of tropical fruit drinks for £6 and we talked about the promotion where if you bought three they gave you a glass. She felt the FMCG “bone heads” forgot to make the promotion accessible to the homeless and arrange a glass collection point so she probably wouldn’t use it even though I spent £6 getting her three! I said I could get it and use my address but she said she didn’t have much use for a glass on the streets. Still it’s the thought that counts I reasoned and I didn’t feel like hating on an FMCG marketing director I’d never met.

St John’s was a nice 6 o’clock service but some zealot called Beuno was up as Saint of the week so I started to feel guilty again I hadn’t drawn blood from the tassels on my back this week.

I stayed late talking to the homeless woman and missed confession so I had to say a prayer that I might soon be in communion again which they had really thoughtfully put in the mass service booklet.

I put my family in the mass intentions book but didn’t have enough left over without breaking into my coral stake to donate the suggested £7 donation that day – so I said a prayer for them instead in case the diocese forgets them.


I was thinking that a lot of the architecture at the cathedral was really beautiful and I took photos before and after my blessing.

This one about an indulgence I had spotted a bit late this year but Sophia said she would go to stations of the cross with me at Saint Joseph’s ‘next year’ so that’s good I’m a patient Dad and I should be Citizens Advice qualified by then not quite an Oxford law degree but it will have to do and should help me get by without being fleeced.

Maybe then Sophia can safely learn about indulgences as well.

All in all they’ve done a pretty good job in Portsmouth.

Show your support

Clapping shows how much you appreciated Brendan McLoughlin’s story.