28.05.14 (Day 157)
I’m at base; in the squat.
I’m writing the old-fashioned way, with pen and paper (tools I’ll rarely be denied, except in a police cell, where a pen is deemed a suicide risk (surely that would take some imagination and ingenuity?) and paper can be used to block the toilet). At the time of writing, I’m hoping these hand-written journals survive the journey. Things having been so quiet on the writing front lately, I’m still on Volume Five. Volumes Two and Three are still missing, presumably lost forever. One, Four and Five remain with me.
My writing was dismissed by some and I stopped committing my hand-written notes to the blog but I’ve continued with my journals as it’s therapy and I simply love to write. In the absence of a short story, piece of prose, or the next chapter in the ongoing novel (which this will form a part), I continue to write this. If nothing else, it will serve as a reminder of all that went on.
Every day is different, presenting new challenges and I want to maintain a record. Those who dismissed me are no longer friends. People who remain friends have encouraged me to engage my passion. Of course I’m inferior to many (or most) writers. With practice though, comes perfection. When all this is done, I still have an offer from a publisher and I’ve been published before. So yet again, I pick up the pen. I commit my journals to the forever, in case they are lost. Back to the story:
We’re threatened with eviction any day, so we’ve had to lock ourselves in, barricade the entry points and have a minimum number of the senior family on site at all times. With several people having come into the family recently, the comings and goings can be hard to manage with the practices and entry and exit systems which we’ve put in place.
We all muck in and try to keep the filth at bay. The Fury is the anger which abounds in all of us. Most of our ire is directed towards the system which continues to deny myself and many of the others a path out of here. But we remain family.
Some see us as tramps. That’s fine. Certain elements of the black population reclaimed the word “Nigger” and we reclaim the term “Tramp”. We’re not stereotypical tramps: we live on the road.
Some see us as a bunch of criminals. Most of us are. Some of the kidsthink it’s cool to hang here, in the den with dangerous people. They all get to go home though, to a nice meal, in a safe environment and they get to sleep in a comfortable bed. No such luxuries for those of us who live here after dark. Our collective record includes theft (although we’ve thieved, we don’t steal from each other), Burglary, Common Assault, Assault by beating, ABH, Criminal Damage… The list goes on. The police know us all (obviously). Some of our number have served time at Her Majesty’s pleasure. Some are on bail and others on suspended sentences. Most of us have been to court (Magistrates, County and Crown). Keeping bad company? No actually. We all have baggage and we leave it at the door.
But we have the threat of closure looming over us. A potential situation which even the police are dreading as we’ll no longer be where we are, doing what we do.
We’re a family: like-minded but damaged individuals, sharing a home. We take people in; we help each other, refer people, provide ministry, work with churches, charities, The Hell’s Angels and the law. We’re not all bad. Authorities other than the police know that we’re here and part of the reason we’re tolerated is that there is no alternative official facility working as efficiently as we do. I shit you not.
But commerce dictates that our home is under threat. Then we’re all out on the street and we become a problem (moreso). As someone who’s run a business, I understand the property owner’s point of view. At least one church has offered to help set up a drop-in centre for the youngsters. This would be for a pre-defined one hour per week and could never replace what we have currently: a home full of wonderful people, misunderstood by all but our own. Qualifications can’t provide what we do; only life experience.
Right now I’m seated at my desk, from where I dispense ministry, advice, counselling and occasional wrath. I’m watching over two of my lieutenants, who are sleeping. Two younger members are asleep in another room. I have a wingman downstairs on watch and at least one other is due back to replace me on window watch, so that I can take one of the kids to the doctors’. The Dog is out on family business.
The rules are still on the wall:
Who you see in this room;
What you say in this room;
What you hear in this room;
Stays in this room.
But the size of the recently extended family means that the rules which have applied to one room must now apply to the whole building. And where previously we’ve had casual visitors, who don’t actually live here but visit and treat the place as a playpen, we’ve had to add some footnotes:
If you grass us, we will make you smile, Chelsea style;
If you talk about us, we will sew your mouth shut;
If you steal from us, we will cut off your fingers.
And in the toilets, which don’t flush: we have shit bags. Use them or use the public lavatories. If you shit in our pan, we will spoon-feed you your own excrement.
Welcome to our world.
We have people here who work way above those who see our home as merely somewhere to doss in a bad place among dangerous people. Most don’t take us seriously, so one day there will arise a situation where we have to make an example. We will not tolerate those who dismiss us.
And for some reason I’ve earned myself the nickname of The Snake here; my old nickname from my poker playing days.
Our Days Are Numbered