Today’s collaboration is narrated by British actress, Maxine Peake ( from T.V. seriesShameless) and (former guitarist for Morrissey & co-songwriter for the band ‘The Smiths’ ) Johnny Marr.
The video & lyrics were inspired by former BIG ISSUE, Jo Gallagher’s (magazine vendor/seller )own experiences of being homeless in Edinburgh from 2105 until he went on to find full-time employment.
I discovered this brilliant spoken word, experimental soundscape, kitchen sink noir mash-up when I was editing Act two for a stage play script I wrote about covering themes of Homelessness, relationships, legal highs & the state of the nation today in the U.K.
It appeals to me as it is raw & humorous. I am a firm believer in using my sense of humour in life to get me through dark moments.
It gives a bigger perspective of the idea that homeless people are just addicted or lazy people who don’t want to work.
If anyone has read the book by (pen name) George Orwell or Eric Blair ‘Downtown in Paris and London’ – a biographical account of Orwell’s own decision to turn away from his privileged lifestyle & live rough as a “tramp”, in a passionate attempt to be taken seriously as a writer in his lifetime. He was a radical.
We can see how our views in over a century about “tramps” are seriously misunderstood in a social, cultural & Historical Context
Like Orwell’s book ‘ The priest’ uses a common writing technique by adopting the register of the characters narrated about in the video.
Here is a bit of context
A few months ago I was on my way to see my doctor & I was standing at the traffic lights waiting to cross the road. A (homeless) couple had made a sign stating
WE ARE HOMELESS -We will wash your car for money or food. We want to work.
When I was homeless (couch) I used my last bit of money and bought a one-way ticket to go and live with my (now deceased) Aunt in Barcelona for 3 months.
Homelessness doesn’t have to mean you are on the streets. Homelessness is also about couch surfing, temporary accommodation, hostels.
It is not easy getting off the streets. Trust me. I have done the research. Red tape issues are huge obstacles ( to name but one).
Sitting with a cup in me hand,rattling my pennies. The wind cuts through my salvation army coat – I feel bare.
Half an hour until the big brother brigade does their rounds, to come clear off the debris of me, offending society, with my appearance of failure. Glasses fixed on nose bridges to hide poverty’s despicable, shining glare.
It wasn’t meant to get to this point. I had a home, a family. Believe me, I was a carer. That was many years ago.
I let my parents down. They was ill. They fought a lot. Dyspraxia and Alzheimers is a blinding, rallied up bull shit way to steer 30 years of love straight out the front door with a forceful blow.
Pa was getting violent he couldn’t help it – it was the frustration. The illness works that way . Too much protein in the brain ,the doctor says.
I don’t care much for protein. I just wanted him to get the right meds, to make him the man who he used to be
I came home from school one day and the living room had been touched by pa’s hard handed caress.
‘Put ya fecking glasses on – you thick cow. Turn them around. ‘ere give them to me I’ll show you how.’
Ma was crying. Her perception was off the wire – crazy. Dad went to put on me ma’s glasses and stopped dead in his tracks.
He had forgotten why he was standing next to Ma- and lashed out – his moves were not shady but he was hazy.
I couldn’t watch them do this any longer. I had to get out. I wished to start a new life. 16 – find a home I could call me own, addle, get a job and be Miss independent. carefree,sipping on splendour.
I found me a job – I was smart not like them other lasses, herded in like cattle, branded with the letter P. Marked,dotted, scarred, scared, drugged – too skinny to be called slender.
I started washing up pots,owt I could do. I needed a step to reach them. They were that big. I was that short. The gaffer he was a bit of twocker- A Tyke.
He should have been wooing his guests instead of fondling me tits ,grabbing me ass and jerking off with the hand he vowed to his wife to stay faithful with.
I couldn’t take that shit no more. I was no whore. I suppose I could have called me Ma and Pa
I said No. Loud and clear.
Decibels reverberating – Tin Tin like. I was barking mad.
Hotel guests, eating their warm croissants, couldn’t ignore the tone – it was him that had set that bar.
Didn’t even get me wages. Couldn’t pay me rent. I only had a room but it was my home. A place none could bother me. I could come home kickoff me shoes and read and chill.
Be at peace.
That were a few years now. Things change. Time never stops. Drugs, alcohol, overdoses, hospital beds.
None of it worked. I just got older, street smart, I was now living amongst wild, underfed , hope-starved geese.
No place to shower, they say it takes 3 seconds to make an impression on someone. No jobs – the only job I could get was the hardest graft I ever did.
Squatting on the cobbles and begging for scraps of bread.
blast me to oblivion ,
fresh like a baguette- warm ,baked.
I was safer in the streets than I was in a seedy local pub.
The pervading scent emanating from these places was the end of hope and that was my biggest dread. I’d rather be underground dead.
I got in with some Christian volunteers – at first, I was in tears. I had Hope, but I had lost faith.
Pa, he had gone into a state care home and Ma? well, she had a stroke and I don’t know. It just got harder to think of going back. Mind, it was me guilt.
At first, it felt like they were recruiting me for their cult. I knew there is no God. I had seen what mercy truly looked like. Bleak. a dying art.
I got attacked one night,got meself in a right snicket. I know I wasn’t to blame. Wrong place, wrong time, could have happened to anyone.
It was me.
Weeks went by , started feeling nauseous, went to A&E – they confirmed what I knew.I was up the duff.
I knew I had to reach out – me and my child depart ? never crossed my mind -not even from the start.
9 months passed . The SS got involved – my baby was honey coloured hair and blue eyed. A prize catch ,a tick off the adoption incentive target list.
I didn’t stand a chance. They convinced me she’d be better off in another one’s arms.
That toppled me, I came down like a house of cards. Not original but tell it like it is, Bards.
I started living in shared accommodation.Nice people, life been shit. We all make choices – doesn’t make us bad people,right?
I lost the plot, forgot my goals- to become a suited and booted member of society. I had my mobile phone I got given to me by the charity.
I whip it out. I got a text.
what’s app – it’s free.
Overweening Lady, with the fine, make up on and pretty, salon styled hair and the sparkly engagement ring. Don’t look at me like that and stare.
Is it so wrong to have a phone and live on the street off and on ? I ain’t got no one to marry me.
” What prompted this stream of consciousness is obviously the content. One of the themes of the play is centred around Homeless people. I saw a man – I presume was homeless the other day begging for my some money and he was texting with his phone. My first reaction was rather judgemental -so I started asking myself questions and this is the result. The register/style of speaking and writing I use is inspired by how some people in Yorkshire speak. “