So much I feel unable to say due to confidentiality of the people I work with but what I can say to you is that at 1pm today after four hours travelling I find myself in front of thirty homeless people in a room, too small. They are from Rochdale and have come to work with me on poetry. They have all the traits delivered by the life they have, addictions, prison, abusive pasts…… “I was in the war in Iraq for ten years” says one man who has two stab wounds – not from the Iraqis but from fellow soldiers. He was in the army for ten years and within four years he is homeless and destitute.
I could see the addictions in the room and I could smell the addictions in the rooms. One of the first things I spoke to them about was about my stopping drinking alcohol five months ago. This was a poetry workshop but it just felt right. A ripple seemed to run through the room – a ripple of recognition adn the ripples came back as a trust. I had already spoken of my upbringing. That I was a child that had spent most seventeen years of his childhood in care of the social services. That I wrote poetry. That I am consistently reminded of my past in the present. After all what is adulthood but a constant verification of childhood.
Then I began the workshop. This is what I was here for. I could see the penine mountains through the window – cold and relentless against these warm people, who had come to spend time with me of all people and I with them. What I can say is this: the poetry that came out of what amounted to a one hour talk and a one hour workshop was moving. The workers who were also at the workshop were moved. These were strong survivors, mainly male from the ages fo twenty five to sixty. I was moved, proud to be there and in some ways I knew my place – it was here.
Back in Manchester I am staying at The Malmaison Hotel. I see Stuart Marconie checking in and say hello. He has absolutely no idea who I am. We have met before but it’s all good. He’s a sort of modern JB Priestley in some ways. Athina, Cath, Maxine and Helen drop in on Malmaison with my friend Jason and we all enjoy a fun and drunken evening. Because I don’t drink it’s kind of fun to watch em all get absolutely legless. These are hard working women who deserve to have a good time. It’s only a matter of time before they turn on me (in a fun way) for not getting drunk with them. Who needs to drink this is pure entertainment. We people who grew up in care, we are always just one step from homelessness! One drink from it.