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Showing posts from April, 2011

Friend of My Youth

Although the primary school to which I was consigned from age eight to eleven provided a quality of education that ranged from adequate down to dismal, the standard of football played was considerably better, even half decent. Nothing was more competitive than the annual matches between the school ‘houses’ named after the planets, Mercury Jupiter, Neptune and Saturn. In my last year I captained the Mercury team to, embellished through my sepia-tinted memories, a stunning 4-3 victory over Jupiter in a tense final. Key to our victory was the performance of a hard tackling right-back, William Bentley.

In my mind’s eye, there we all are with our arms around each others’ shoulders, bouncing up and down in jubilation and William Bentley is on the far left, part of the group but just slightly detached and he is looking across to seek affirmation from the rest. But I think that my memory is selective, separating him from us because of what I now know.

At school William Bentley was undoubtedl…

It won't be an ex-banker curled up in that shop doorway

A woman from the Sunday Times rings. Her voice possesses those quintessentially middle class inflections of the broadsheet journalist. ‘Have you perchance come across a banker sleeping rough?’ she asks. ‘After all, the cuts are hitting us all. Homelessness doesn’t discriminate – anyone can become homeless’.

We have been here before and a familiar ritual ensues. I walk down three floors to talk with our Street Rescue Team which works on the streets with rough sleepers. ‘Any bankers out there yet’ I ask. ‘Afraid not’ I’m told. ‘We’re working with a lot of people who have done casual work in bars, an ex-security guard and a guy who used to be a roofer, and a shed-load of people who have been unemployed all their life, but we’re fresh out of bankers and are not expecting a new stock in any time soon’. Rueful smiles all round.

It made me reflect again on the assertion, frequently made, that anyone can become homeless. If only we could genuinely claim that homelessness is indeed an expe…