Monday, September 08, 2008

Do You Save Lost Girls ?

How cultural memories vanish. The Victorian and Edwardian tradition of volunteer (not state-funded) organisations such as the Sally Army and individual initiatives like those of the Gladstones, aimed at turning young women away from prostitution, was once the subject of music-hall humour and popular cartoons.

Drunk in street to charity collector or purity activist : "Do you save lost girls ?"

"We certainly do"

"Can you save one for me for Friday night ?"

Now the phrase "do you save lost girls" returns no results in Google.

But I'm pleased to see the Gladstonian tradition is alive and well in the shape of Tooting's prospective Tory candidate Mark Clarke (no relation to Jan Coggan's mate).


The Conservative parliamentary candidate for Tooting is fed up with curb crawlers and seedy activities blighting the area.

He said: “If someone tells me they’re here now and I’m in the area, I’ll go down there with people from my family and ruin their business.

“We’ll offer them help and advice, but we’ll also just stand next to them so they won’t get any punters.”

Last Monday Mr Clarke and his girlfriend, Sarah, 30, spent three hours on Bedford Hill warding off vice girls after calls from residents.

They arrived at 10.30pm to reason with two separate prostitutes, who showered them with abuse before eventually leaving.

Mr Clarke said: “My girlfriend was quite distressed. One of them said, ‘I know people who can sort you out.’”

He added: “Most people in the community are afraid of tackling them. They think the pimp will get them, or they might get done for curb crawling themselves.

“But I can do this because everyone including the police knows who I am. They know I’m not harassing anyone.”



Curb crawlers ? Sack the sub-ed - shouldn't it be kerb ? To curb is to restrain or hold back - more the sort of thing Max Mosley might go in for. And most people in the Tooting/Streatham community might be afraid of them - but I know a community who aren't.

I've warded off vice girls on Bedford Hill in my time. When I lived there in the 80s you might be approached three or four times on your way up towards the common. A lot of the girls seemed to be from 'up North'. I remember being stopped by two of them as I laboured up the hill with my hands full of heavy supermarket bags (was it a Sainsburys next door to Balham station ?).

"I'm flattered, ladies. Do I look like someone who needs two girls for the evening ?"

6 comments:

JuliaM said...

"“But I can do this because everyone including the police knows who I am. They know I’m not harassing anyone.”"

That's not something you can say about every politician, it's true....

staybryte said...

It was a Sainsbury's at Balham. I used to know the area quite well during my south London years and lived off Bedford Hill very briefly.

Funnily enough though I don't recall any street prostitution there at all. Was there a bit of a crackdown in the late 90s?

Laban said...

When I left perhaps the girls all retired ...

staybryte said...

Exhaustion I expect...

Lurker said...

Blimey Laban Ive struggled up that same hill, I was in Elmbourne Road near the top of Bedford Hill, in 88-89.

Lots of girls lining the hill then, some nice looking, some rough. The only time they showed an interest in me was when it was frosty (or maybe snowing?). By then they had clocked I was living close by and they might get indoors. Normally they only wanted to jump in cars.(I declined their generous offers btw)

Yes, it was/is Sainsbury's on the High Street.

Fed up ex-boyfriend of one of his ex's! said...

Does anyone want to ask him about his "personal" experience of working girls? I don't think the girl was exactly lost when MC and his then girlfriend...but that's another story..