By SIMON DEAN
ANOTHER year of recession has made competition for the 2012 Sunday Sport Poor List stiffer than ever with thousands more achieving “super-skint” status.
Last week the Sunday Times printed its “Rich List” – a breakdown of the wealthiest folk in the UK. Top of the rankings, with a £12.7billion fortune, is steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal, 61. Despite his fortune falling by 27 per cent in the past 12 months, he stays ahead of Uzbek metals magnate and Arsenal shareholder Alisher Usmanov on £12.3billion. Chelsea FC boss Roman Abramovich, 45, came in third with £9.5billion – down £800million on last year.
The wealthiest UK-born man is the Duke of Westminster, 60, in seventh place with £7.35billion – thanks to his London property empire. But at the other end of the social and economic scale, British-based substance abusers have been working hard 24 hours-a-day to clamber up Sunday Sport’s list of utter destitution. Alan Jones, of the homeless travel and accommodation site skipadviser.co.uk said: “It is a tribute to this government that more people than ever are fighting to be on the Sunday Sport Poor List. “Our paupers could even give the Greek poor a run for the money that they don’t have. Have you got 10p?”
ONE of the new breed of thrusting young itinerants shaking up the Poor List this year is Alan who has scrambled to the very depths of the social pile with unseemly haste. Whether slumped comatose outside the former Kwik Save store in Bolton or slumped outside the former Kwik Save store in Bolton while comatose, Alan has made the progress to penniless despair look like child’s play. But he’s not achieved this position unaided. As Alan will freely admit, some cider was involved. Three arrests for aggressive vagrancy and a hospitalisation for a previously-unknown strain of tuberculosis have raised his public profile hugely over the past six months. Alan’s pursuit of a one penny piece into a storm drain during the Bolton Floods led to him making the lead story on North West Tonight in September 2011 – the night of legendary broadcaster Gordon Burns’ final TV bulletin.
A WELCOME new arrival on the Poor List for 2012 is Runcorn’s Dirty Billy – a long-time resident under the bridge which links the Cheshire town to the even-less-lovely Widnes. Local folklore says Billy is a former steel erector from Rhyl who was forced to seek other employment when he was caught selling 400 tons of steel to a Triad gang from Hartlepool. His headlong plunge into the realm of the preposterously-penniless was hastened by a liking for strong cider with Windowlene chasers. A man of few words and fewer social niceties, an incident with a dead Canada goose washed up on the tidal reaches of the River Mersey led to an encounter with local magistrates. Billy is supposedly kind to cats although there is no documentary evidence of this.
REFLECTING Britain’s growing status as a magnet for the pauperised jet-set, Chinky Cohen is one of the new breed of non-domiciled UK residents who don’t have a roof over their heads in any country they wish to visit. Claims that he swam to Britain from France are contradicted by his noted aversion to water – especially in the form of baths and showers. He reached public attention last August when he gave his name to a police officer in Luton and was promptly arrested for using a word banned under anti-racism legislation. The case languishes in the courts to this day. Despite his controversial and unacceptable chosen name, Chinky is thought to hail from South Korea – a theory given credence by the fact he was found one evening salivating outside Luton Home for Stray Dogs. His favourite word is “necktie” which, uttered in his bizarre oriental tongue, sounds rather beautiful.
THE uninformed believe Mike won the epithet “Bucky” on account of his rodeo-style cowboy hat and “gunslinger” lope. In fact, his gait is the result of a groin injury which he refuses to elaborate on, and his nickname comes from his favourite tipple: Buckfast Tonic Wine. A sometime resident of Kidsgrove, Staffs, Bucky is believed to be the only person south of Hadrian’s Wall to drink the caffeine-laced beverage so beloved to residents of Coatbridge, Lanarks. When he found £10 in some sick near a kebab van Bucky invested it in bottles of Buckfast, telling pals he was going to “lay it down as an investment”. But the tonic wine only remained in his cellar (a cardboard box behind Superdrug) for 40 minutes – before he drank the lot and collapsed into tearful self-recrimination.
AN island of reliable insolvency amid the choppy waters of worldwide economic calamity, Norman’s bank balance has remained stable at £0. One thing rocking his leaky boat is his growing terror of imminent, world-ending cataclysm. This was caused by pal Smelly Arnold relating the plot of disaster movie 2012 while in a confused state. To avoid deadly solar radiation, Arnold has lined the hood of his anorak with tin foil and old fat gathered from the outside drains of Southampton’s fast food outlets. One notable incident over the past year came in September when a crew member from BBC’s Who Do You Think You Are? managed to unearth Arnold’s surname. Alas, he forgot it again 45 seconds later. He still enjoys his cider.
THE BIG RISERS
BELFAST-BORN Scottish Jake, 57, has seen his earthly wealth surge in recent years. Last year’s Poor List reported that he found an almost-intact Curly Wurly bar in late 2010. And 2011 was another profitable year. In August he discovered a dead cat wearing a perfectly-serviceable flea collar which he swapped for half a tin of Brasso.
FINNEGAN Tony, 61, has been a voice in the wilderness for the past year. His emotional attachment to plastic bags makes him a social pariah as shoppers shun carriers in favour of eco-friendly alternatives. But, paradoxically, as carriers become a rarer sight, Finnegan’s collection of classic, early-80s bags has risen in value – now being worth almost half of a quarter of a penny.
THE BIG FALLERS
SHOUTY Mick from Manchester has seen a litany of woe over the past 12 months. Sued for increased maintenance by two of his imaginary wives, he lost control of his only asset – a clothes peg. The pauper’s issues increased in September when he dropped dead and was partly eaten by stray dogs before being found by a jogger.
ALAS, it’s been a bad year for Goose, 71, of Middlewich, Cheshire, who lost three of his favourite pebbles in a vicious canalside fight with “The Noises”. In September he almost acquired a nearly-full cone of chips which had been dropped from a special needs minibus. But he was run over trying to retrieve them from the road and suffered a broken pelvis.