Friday, 17 July 2015


You're a person. We can see this by looking at you

You laugh out loud at things very easily. We know this because we can hear you

You have what some people might describe as a 'sunny disposition'. We know this because of the above comment

You have young children and you love them. We know this because you told us

You live in a house of which you are proud. We know this because you told us

You smile at people when they walk into the room and you listen to people when they talk to you. We can all see you doing this

People like you and think you're nice

Which is why what you said is such a shame

Do you remember what you said? It was this:

How can someone who says they're homeless be so fussy about where they live? I mean, if you're going to say you're homeless, how can you be that much of a priority if you're going to turn your nose up at places because you're a bit scared of a few of the neighbours? I'm not being funny, but you can't say you want to be a priority and then be so fussy about what you get offered

Shall we take a few breaths and a few steps back, Janet? (you're name's not Janet but that's not important). Shall we think about the house you live in and how proud of it you are? About how important it is to you to have a lovely home? A place to flourish and feel safe and to bring up your children? Do you think that you're the only one who feels like that? But we know what's coming now, don't we Janet? We know what you're going to say: 

I deserve that house; I worked hard for it. You don't get something for nothing and beggars can't be choosers.

Do you know why people become homeless Janet? Have you thought about it before? Given that you work in a local authority's housing department, you probably have thought about it, haven't you? So you probably know that these are the reasons why people become homeless:













Let's think about what would happen if you became homeless, Janet. Because, we all know that it could happen to anyone. Let's think about how it might happen to you. Maybe you'll lose your job one day. It happens to the best of us, after all. Maybe, as a result of losing your job, you'd started to feel a bit blue. This would be totes fair enough. Maybe, in order to stop feeling blue, you'd start to drink a bit more than you should. Easily done. Maybe, after a few months, your drinking would be a bit out of control and you'd start to sort of give up on stuff. Depressing, but understandable. Maybe, because of this, you'd stop looking for another job and stop going to the job centre to sign on so your benefits would cease and you'd lose your home. Oh dear. Maybe, because of your drinking, your friends and family would turn their backs on you a bit and you wouldn't have anywhere to stay. Homeless! Simple!

What would you do next, do you think? Try to get some help from the council? Probs. And because you have children, you'd probably be in priority need. So then what would happen? You'd start to bid on properties in the areas you want to live in. But there aren't very many, are there? And the ones that are available are   p  r  e  t  t  y     s  h  i  t  t  y. But, you know, beggars can't be choosers, can they, Janet? So, you plod on. And there is this one flat that comes up on the Home Choice website that you know you should bid for. But you can't quite bring yourself to say that you want to live there. Because it's scary. You're scared. 

It's on the top floor of a high rise block on the outskirts of the city. Right next to the motorway. There's no carpet; just concrete floors throughout. The sound proofing is really bad and there's a couple next door who are at each other's throats all day and a guy on the other side who hears voices and who tries to drown them out by having his TV on full blast all night. It's also an area that's notorious for gang crime. It's miles away from your children's school and from your doctor and you've been needing to get to the doctor more and more recently. You had to sell your car, so getting to places is going to be a struggle and you don't like the idea of walking around outside on your own. You start to worry. You worry about your children. You worry about the future. 

And you can't stop thinking about the lovely house you used to live in. About how you had it just the way you wanted it. About how warm and cosy it was in the winter and about how light and airy it was in the summer. About how your children used to love running around in the garden all happy and safe. About how they could walk to and from school without finding syringes on the pavement and how the only sound you could hear from your bedroom at night was the tinkle of wind chimes in the garden next door.

It's not easy is it, Janet?

It's not easy at all.


Shall we go back to that thing you said?

Who were you talking about when you made that comment, do you think? What kind of image did you have in your head as to who that homeless person was? Somebody a bit scruffy and smelly and lazy who just can't be bothered to help themselves and who is being a bit of a pain in the arse because they think that the system owes them? Or, someone who maybe isn't that different from you? Someone who, for one or two reasons out of thousands of reasons, is without a home. A person who wants what we all want, really; security, safety, a sense of calm, to not feel threatened or intimidated, a window to stare out of, a chair to sit on, a bed to hold their partner in, a bath to wash their children in. That kind of thing.

The person you were talking about may have been exactly like you once, Janet. But, actually, the chances are they weren't.

The chances are, they weren't anywhere near as lucky.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

From Bristol to Bristol


You don’t know me but The Ordeal suggested I contact you because we have something in common which is our name.

The Ordeal said that you might be able to help me or at least write back to me or send me a sign or something. I don’t know about that, really. The Ordeal sometimes has big ideas and says things that I can’t fathom. Maybe you know what I mean.

So. A little bit about me.

I am a very small part of the state of Louisiana
Louisiana – the state with the most beautiful name, in my opinion
You may think I am biased
You may well be correct

I am situated between a duck and a diamond
I have a straight line running through the bottom of my heart
My beginning and my end are ambiguous to outsiders
Because there aren’t any signs to where I am
Nor are there any signs when I am
But I know that I am because I feel it
I feel it when there is weather
And when there is a commotion of birds or wasps
And when there are bells ringing in Church Point
And whispers of melodies from the bar
And when insiders lie down in my meadows and love each other
I feel all of those things
I hope you believe it
But I would understand if you didn’t
Because sometimes I don’t believe it myself

It says somewhere that I am a populated place
But other times, it says somewhere that I am nothing at all. But I don’t know about that, really.

I feel that more and more these days; that I am nothing at all. I can’t explain it very easily but let me try to embelish a little by writing a list of the words or phrases that are making me have this feeling:

The Tree
The Other Tree
You might have noticed that I stopped writing the list before finishing it because The Feeling started to come really, really strong. Maybe you know what I mean.

The Ordeal told me that we should be in contact because of these feelings I’ve been having. The nothing at all feelings. I don’t know if I should tell you or if you will be interested but sometimes the nothing at all feeling is so potent that I feel unable to see. I cloud over. I fold in. I stick to the sides of myself. The air around me dies. The colours go away. I miss… I miss… I don’t know what.

Maybe you will write back to me. Maybe you won’t. Either way, The Ordeal said that the act of writing this down might help me to feel better. But I don’t know about that really.

Yours in hope,

Bristol, Louisiana.

Sunday, 5 July 2015


What is that, then, a cello? Do you play that? That's wicked. I do music too. Well, I used to do more than I do now. I used to do loads, just like in my room. But I'm always making up little tunes when I'm on the bus and writing them down in my little book. I'm a drummer mainly. Well, also I'm a dancer but me and my mate used to do a lot of music together. She's concentrating on her dancing more at the moment though. We used to dance together. We both got into the same school, like a performing school. The Brit School. Yeah, I got in. But just before I started, I messed up my ankle really badly and I couldn't go in the end. Well, maybe I could've gone but, I dunno, I think I lost my confidence and I just sort of stopped. So I never went. So, yeah, I suppose I just fell into beauty therapy really. I like it though. But, yeah, I suppose it's not exactly what I want to be doing. But I dunno.

I would like to go to the Brit. I was well excited when I got in. I should apply again but, I dunno, I just kind of think everything happens for a reason, you know? I haven't really danced for ages. I dunno why. I haven't thought about it much. I mean, I have thought about it. Maybe it just wasn't meant to be. But, you know, I'm only 22. I could probably start training again. I dunno what happened. My mum says it's a confidence thing. But yeah.

I think my mum's right about the confidence stuff. I used to never get nervous when I was dancing and performing. But now, when I think about it, I feel all sicky. I should start again, like slowly. But also, my boyfriend didn't like it, the dancing and performing. Well, actually, he's my ex now. We broke up yesterday. I'm ok about it though. I woke up this morning and I was like, yes. Oh my God, he was well bad to me. He hated my dancing and all my mates. So we broke up. We were living together. I've been trying to break up with him for ages but he sort of wouldn't let me. Like, yesterday when I told him it was over for good, he stole all my stuff, like my wallet and my keys and my phone and he wouldn't let me leave the flat. He basically trapped me inside. I was like, I am not having this anymore, you know? It was my nephew's birthday as well and I missed it cos I was trapped in the flat. I've cancelled all my cards and I'm getting a new phone. He's still got it all. I don't care though. I'm free of him now.

I feel bad about my nephew though. That was another thing about being with my ex. I hardly ever saw my family. And I'm really close to my family, you know? Like, we're really tight knit. And I just kept thinking, my nephew and nieces aren't gonna be this young for much longer and I want to enjoy them and have fun, you know? Show them a good time. And soon, they'll be grown up and I would've missed it all. So, yeah, I'm definitely better off without him. I'm staying with my mum now. She doesn't really know everything that happened. She'd shoot him if she knew. He didn't work or anything either. Well, not legally. He was a waste of time. But yeah, he hated my dancing. He was like, 'you're not hot enough to pull it off' but then, when I tried to make myself look hot - well not even hot, just like, cool - he'd say I was trying to get other blokes' attention. But I wasn't! I just wanted to look good when I was performing, you know? It's all part of what it's all about.

Me and my mates are going out to celebrate on Saturday. I've not seen them properly for about a year. He didn't really let me. Well, it's not that he didn't let me. He'd just get all moody and not talk to me. Oh my God, sometimes he wouldn't talk to me for like three days. And when you're living with someone, that's hard to deal with. So, yeah, I'm having a night out with all my girls. We've planned everything out, what we're wearing, where we're going, what music we're gonna listen to when we're getting ready, even what we're gonna eat at the end of the night. I'm either gonna have a kebab or some chicken. I love it. There's an amazing place to get chicken in Clapham.

Yeah, it's gonna be wicked.