Thought I’d take a stroll through Manchester today to give away some leftover chicken dinner from last night’s meal with my children and a bag of apples to some homeless if i bumped into any on route to my IT course at CAN (community arts north west). My 1st port of call however was Johnny Roadhouse to buy harmonicas in the key of ‘G’ and ‘D’I already own the other key required in ‘A’ for my folk music course starting tomorrow night at Band on the wall.
I then romped up Oxford road and found Brian looking very forlorn and thin so stopped and asked if it was ok to hang and have a chat with him. He said it was fine so I sat next to him on his chosen spot for the day and to break the ice asked if he’d like some chicken. I told him the story that my boy’s refused it in their packed lunch for today because they will never eat the same thing they had for dinner the day before. “Fussy boys” he said in a very vague American accent.. Brian tells me he spent a lot of his youth in New York that’s where the accent comes from. I don’t pry too much but Brian is really withdrawn and very sad like the light has been dimmed right down, my heart breaks for him but i remain chirper. He tells me he has an offer of somewhere to live 22nd of February almost a month away, in the meantime he has a tent on a roundabout on the Mancunian way. I know exactly where it is. I ask several passers by will they take our photo but get completely ignored until i make up a lie and tell someone I’m a reporter doing a story for an independent magazine. I get the shot and realise why I was ignored, I almost look homeless myself without my denture in. I throw a pound in his tin, Brian shakes my hand with genuine gratitude that I spent a few minutes with him and I bid him farewell.
I turn right onto Portland street and towards the top stop and start a conversation with someone a lot younger. Again I ask is it ok if I stop and talk a bit. There is a warm welcome from this young 22 year old. I’m going to call him Jake which is the name of my step son the same age. I can’t tell his name because of all he told me even though he said he couldn’t give a shit. I offered him my bag of apples. “yea, I’ll take your apples gladly”. Jake said he’s been on and off the streets since he was 16 a kind of forced choice. He was pushed into leaving home as he didn’t get on with his mum. He likes his herbal highs and admits his drug of choice is smoking “spice” fish. I’ve never heard of it! Jake is very open and upbeat I think for a homeless person but then he only 22 and still has youth on his side. He tells me this fish “spice” is a bit like heroin and coke. Oh, I say, speed ballin! He laughs and tells me he hasn’t heard that expression for a while but yes, it is exactly like that. It numbs him out and get’s you very high. He’s staying in a tent at Riverside the place where the young man burnt to death last week just in Salford. He knew the lad a little but they weren’t friends. The police are coming every morning to check they are all still alive and asking questions. “Nobody”, he tell’s me knows who did it. I asked what have you got to look forward to and he replies, “just to live I haven’t got any goals”. I bid my farewells again and was so engaged I forgot to give him any money. I felt shit about that and make a mental note to come into town to look for him again to pass on something. He was a really nice lad, there didn’t seem anything bad about him at all.
Before All this I sat in my flat feeling really despondent about the plight of the ever increasing numbers of homelessness and the ridiculous laws a lot of councils have started imposing like making it illegal to be homeless in city centres threatening with a fine of up to £1,000 and getting a banning order from city centre begging. I then hatched my plan to give away all my spare food my children have neglected to eat and sat down to write this poem.
Un-United Kingdom 2016
In this out un-united kingdom I can’t sleep on the floor,
I’d get a red ticket and fined if I had a front door.
Over there in the un-united states I can’t feed my fellow man
I’ll be taken to criminal court and get a street ban.
While the banks are poor we are gonna give em some more
I don’t recognise this logic this draconian flaw.
One man’s burden is for us all to ignore
All the loops are broken with a crackpots law.
Well I’ll take my chicken dinner and break your fucking rules
I’ve packed a bag of fruit to give to challenge up the fools.
Arrest me if you will I’m not complicit to your idea,
My nature is to be kind and humble I don’t feel your sodding fear.
Shame comes from the failing a hand for fellow man,
Econimo politico rises and bonus packages tanks go clang-a-lang,
un-united kingdom of doom and gloom stomps and flattens my mate Stan
un-united states of hell and shame you won’t feed desperate Dan.