I am going to have to try to remember what has been happening.
On Thursday I must have gone to the daycentre as normal, increasingly irritated by the daycentre and the addicts and alcoholics I was not really happy to be at the daycentre.
I was too ratty to talk to the nurse as scheduled to I opted not to and went on the computer instead.
I think I went for a walk around after daycentre, and went to church for a quick pray.
I got a text from someone from church asking if I wanted to go to a social meeting in the evening, I said yes but warned him I might be very tired.
He said that was ok and he would ask my friend to collect me.
I spent some time in the library but used up all my computer time for the week, and seeing as the netbook is out of action I was then unable to access the internet at all.
After the library I waited in the bus station, it was cold outside, I got various texts and calls about the social and finally I went accross the road to meet my friends in their car, and was confused by several cars pulling up in the spot where they had arranged to meet me, finally they arrived, and off we went to the social, we found out on the way that oddly enough my friend and I have both started studying the same language.
We got there, the social was in a function room of a pub or club type place, there was tea, cup and saucer tea, and lots of people I knew and some who I didn't know, we sat down but I was tired and got a bit confused by everything and everyone moving around and rearranging the chairs, so I went back outside, my phone rang and it was my friend who I sometimes stay with, she asked if I wanted to stay over, and I wasn't sure, so she said she would phone back later.
my friend from the social came to find me and I said I was a bit too tired and overwhelmed, she said she wasn't deeply keen on the social group and asked if I wanted to go, I decided I did but was worried that I had upset things and people and was spoiling her evening, but she said she was glad of an excuse to escape, she drove me up to my other friends' house and we all stopped for a chat, which was very nice.
Then I went to sleep on the floor and slept through the night but with the usual sad and wierd dreams disturbing me.
Thankfully only a few flashbacks in the morning before I squashed them.
In the morning I had some toast and a bath, and then we ventured to the shops and found me another pair of jeans so that I have a spare pair.
Then my friend dropped me off near the daycentre, and I motored in there and cheerfully
One of the staff there had met one of my friends the previous day when he went to support a client at a tribunal because my friend works at the court, so I surprised that member of staff by telling him he had met my friend.
I really don't like the daycentre any more, on the table where I sit there is a woman who is always negative and always right, today she is sharing the delightful details of her cystitis and thrush and bladder infections. I don't mean to be a snob but some daycentres drag me down.
From the daycentre I went on to reading a book in the church, and then to the library to read the papers.
After the library I waited for soup kitchen, not fun since my clean homeless friends moved on, the only people there now are immigrants, addicts and the convicted rapist and his friend who is probably similar, they are the most annoying and intrusive of the lot, I don't like the homeless people or services in this town, there is no community as there is in other towns.
I am lucky though, one of the soup run volunteers comes to talk to me, she brings hot drinks whenever I run out and makes sure I have enough food, talks sympathetically about the weather and tries to persuade me to come to the outreach centre a few miles up the road the next day, it has just reopened and she assures me that I can get a shower and things.
I wasn't going to go back there as it is too far to be worth it, and I would have to walk as my money is running out and I cannot afford bus fare, but these people are very persuasive.
So I decide that as it will take up half a day when I have nowhere to go and nothing to do and town will be crowded, I will go.
After soup kitchen I push though the hoards of partygoing students and go to my sleeping place and tuck down, I sleep patchily light sleep and periods of lying awake, I am uncomfortable but not really cold. It is a miracle that whoever tidies this place has stopped taking away my neatly stashed slab of cardboard and has simply left it alone.
I get up and walk into town, I find 10p, which is better than nothing, I get a cup of tea at McD's, have a wash, sort my backpack and possessions out and fit them into a cheaper smaller locker, and then I start walking up to the outreach centre, they have moved and so I was given a sketchy map of where to, it is all silly, they have moved onto an industrial estate miles away and are claiming to be 'better' now.
I get there and they are not better, the rowdy que is as bad as before, the seating area where they dump us is much worse, and then they tell me that the showers are broken, that they only checked the new showers the day before and that they do not work properly.
Miles of walking for nothing! I am annoyed to say the least.
They bring me some dry toast and almost cold tea.
I decide that I don't like the new outreach centre and won't be struggling to get there again.
I tell them so.
Then I walk out and explore a nearby churchyard to see if it is habitable.
Then my stomach gets upset, which again points to wheat intolerance or allergy from the toast.
I cannot use the churchyard as a loo, and there is nowhere nearby, I hold on and run for the bus stop, I have enough money for the single fare into town on the cheap bus, so I catch the bus, hold it in until I get to the loos in town and then I explode.
The whole morning has been wasted.
I go to the library after getting my last few pounds from the post office.
The library closes at 4pm and I am left with nowhere to go until the evening outreach opens at 7pm.
I walk down to the church.
the homeless woman who I have been friends with is there, but she is not very coherent and starts ranting at me when I tell her that John said she was at his flat she really gets mad, but doesn't make sense, trying to tell me that I have no right to be on the streets because I don't work and she does, Where is the logic in that? She also adds that her work makes her a Christian while I am not.
I am astounded, what on earth?! She doesn't go to church or believe in God, she scorns me for going to church and believing in God.
I ask her if her work is legal and if the tax man knows about it? I know it isn't legal and declared.
But she goes completely loopy and accuses me of attacking her and runs way.
I am very shaken and try to explain to the vergers what has happened.
I know that she would be frightened when I mentioned the tax man as she is not just undeclared but is living here in hiding from some sort of warrant. But I didn't attack her or try to appart from my retort in return for her suddent barrage of completely wierd comparisons.
I was shaken and I was very upset, life on the streets here is hard and I thought that that woman was a friend despite her wierd turns and the scary ramblings sometimes.
Town is so crowded, so I walk down to the station and the barriers are open so I go down to the waiting room on the platform, after any argument or exchange of words I feel the shame and pain of everything that has ever gone wrong, to me my baptism and confessions have never taken away the shame, those of you who know what happened in my life to leave me homeless will know why it is difficult for me.
The wiating room is empty as I sit, and I sit in silent isolation for an hour and a half and charge my phone as I sit and kind of relax, I go to the loo once and back to the waiting room and it remains empty.
I am waiting for the time to pass until evening outreach, and it is hard when there is not much money left.
After an hour and a half inhabiting the station, I go to leave but the barriers are down and the station is full of police.
I realise that they are preparing for returning football crowds from an away game.
I walk up to the other entrance, this entrance is open, and there is a valid ticket on the ground anyway.
Sneaking onto the station is one of the only naughty things I do.
When I am most distressed it is where I am happiest, and with the added bonus of the fact that no one can smoke there so my lungs get a break from other people's smoke.
I pass the remaining time before outreach by using some of my meagre cash on a cuppa, and then I go on the shuttle bus and walk down to the outreach.
At the outreach I get a shower and then my pal makes me a cuppa and I have some flat bread and a bit of a cake that someone has donated, and then I sit and try to read my book.
Since my two pals left it has been hard to sit in peace because I get pestered and disturbed by some of the other clients here, and it has got steadily worse, I no longer like the daycentre or outreach, the stress and hassle are too much these days.
Saturday night usually brings an influx of high or drunk people to the centre and there are often fights and threats and arguments and people are turned out or banned, it is a crazy inneficient system that allows them in in the first place.
A game of bingo is started and this always means fights, the peaceful people no longer come here for Bingo.
A fight breaks out between the usual people, with some of the other usual people cheering them on drunkenly from the corner.
The staff inefficiently try to solve it.
And then I am next in the firing line as I have some of the troublemakers hanging over me as I try to read, today is not my day, I ask them to move off because I am not comfortable with anyone standing over me.
One of them swears at me and I tell him what I think of that, he threatens to rip my f***ing head off and I jump up and go towards him, which is the best thing to do if you are threatened, don't run away or cringe, go towards the aggressor.
By the time the staff get involved, there is a full scale quarrel between me and this ex-con who has just come out of prison to threaten to rip my face off and he is backed up by an equally unpleasant man who was encouraging his aggression.
The staff are unbelievably innefectual in dealing with anything and claim that I only 'perceived' that he had threatened me, and that he says I threatened him, how can someone reading a book threaten someone who is standing over them and swearing and threatening them?
I am disgusted and I tell the staff so.
I cannot believe how utterly unfair today has been and that I have been accused twice.
I ask myself if I am going mad and have actually done anything to anyone but I know I haven't and that both the people who have attacked me today have histories.
But I still cry and wander aimlessly round town and know I cannot possibly sleep.
I ask God to be merciful and help me.
Then realisation comes to me in an avalanche, one realisation after another.
- I remember my friend saying that this city is one of the most violent and dangerous in the country, I have never really thought about it like that.
- I remember my two friends, one who became seriously depressed and asked the outreach to send him back to his home town and he told me this 'was a bad place to be'. And the other who got himself off the streets after many sleepless nights as his drunken porch mates kept him awake.
- I realise that though I haven't taken it in, the news here in this city is of constant rapes, murders and other violent crime, and that my friends told me the nickname for this city, which reflects that, but I tried to keep my illusion, as I do with every town, that it is a nice town. Sadly this is not a nice town, and today has shown that.
- In the past few months I have become more unwell and am sleeping very badly, and I realise that that is because I have to deal with aggression very often, and it is wearing me down and making me angry. Every day I am dealing with aggressive addict and alcoholic beggars who target lone women, who illegally use the Big Issue as part of their attempts to extort money from people as well as lying, and who don't take kindly to me correcting them or advising them that I am genuine homeless and they are not.
- I have to deal with aggression and being pawed at outreach and the daycentre and there are no other clean people on these streets, at all, in most towns there is a sense of community among the homeless and at least a few clean homeless who help each other out, here there is nothing but addicts and alcoholics, and a few very arrogant convicted rapists, and I hate being anywhere near these people and dealing with the jeers of those who I put straight when they try to beg off me, thinking that I am a normal person because I am clean.
- I do not have a good sleeping place, I no longer sleep well. I cannot overwinter here as I have no shelter and nowhere safe to stash spare bedding, I hate my drain and I feel unsafe and uncomfortable.
- I remember a few weeks ago, my friend hugging me when I was far away from this awful city, somewhere where I am much happier, and asking me if I had to return here. And back then as I said that I didn't want to but needed to, I was overwhelmed because I knew with all my heart that I had no wish to return here, but was returning for the sake of my friends here and the help I get here. and I realised as I remembered this that I am in a bad city, it is harming me physically and emotionally, and the benefits of help here are not going to outweigh the constant danger I am in. My friends will remain my friends wherever I go, and I will always come back to see them and keep in touch with them through this blog.
- I have no affection or attachment to this town, there are few good features, the library is ghastly, the homeless services are clogged with addicts and alcoholics. I have been here too long.
- I need to move to a town where I can shelter and overwinter.
- I realised as I thought all this last night that I know where I want to overwinter.
Calm and sleepy I made my way back to my drain and slept as soon as I lay down.
It was a surprisingly mild night and dry as well.
I woke at 7am, comfortable and calm but not deeply looking forward to explaining to my friends why I am leaving.
I go to McD's and get a cuppa and say hi to my friend who works there.
Then I go to 8am communion and meet with my friend.
My friend seems understanding, we end up in our usual chat with the Vicar and they sadly both seem to agree that the streets and the town here are not safe, are dangerous, and indeed the streets of London are safer.
I was safe on the streets of London, I have suffered more aggression, threats and assaults in this town than on the streets of London, and the lengths of time on both have been similar.
My friend hasn't got time for a coffee with me, but she gives me her loose change, this is enough to get a bagel and a tea and leaves me with a few pounds for locker money as well.
My shouty friends are not around, maybe the police banned them for jumping on the flowerbed, maybe the police should deal with all the drunks who jump on the flowerbed then.
I go to my locker and have a wash and change out of my layers.
Now it is time for church. I am dreading telling my friends that it is time for me to move on.
I go to church and start drinking tea, friends come over and chat, I am not the only marathon tea drinker in this place, there are at least three others.
My friend comes over and I tell her that we need to talk. I am so afraid that she will not be able to understand why I want to leave, but she hears me out and asks if I want to come and stay over today and until I go.
I agree to stay at least tonight, I think it will help.
Now it is time to go and worship, I worship in my place, sitting by the wall away from the main congregation, , it is a good service and unlike last week, I feel able to join in.
During the service my friend brings me communion bread and wine, she is crying, and it breaks my heart, I feel so guilty for having to tell her that I am going, we hug and someone else we know asks what is up and she quietly tells them.
I feel so bad that after the service as I chat to my friends I cannot bring myself to tell them that I am going.
I go back to my friends' house and go on their computer and have a bath and watch television.
We have supper and my other friend rings in case I am at a loose end out in the rain.
I am going to miss these guys so very much.
It is pouring with rain and is going to rain all night.
I am grateful for my friends and their hospitality.
I will never understand the brute stupid cruel and aggressive people on the streets, even though I have spent my whole life with them because of my own status.