Archive | 21:05

There Can Be Only One

24 May

If you started a music band, what would the name be?

WordPress & the Prompters.

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I Should Have Bought A Hat

24 May
A homeless man in Paris

Image via Wikipedia

Should you help homeless people? Why or why not?

This prompt came in a week or so ago.  I’ve been mulling it over.  My answer is: yes, to a point.

We have been homeless.  Not in the living-on-the-street way, but in the having-nowhere-to-live way. 

When we came over to the UK  from South Africa in 1996 we had plenty of money and thought getting a house would be no problem.  We were wrong.  No one wanted to rent privately to us because we had no employment and no British references.  The council waiting list was long.  We were at number 23, which doesn’t sound too far down, but we stayed at number 23 for eight months.  Some people had greater needs, I guess.  Fair enough.

The Hub’s brother and his family gave up two bedrooms for us: The Hub and I, with Spud in a cot, were in one room; and Tory Boy was in a box room.  We crammed those rooms full of our stuff. 

We were grateful; we were grateful for eight months but it was difficult and it took a toll on our relationship.  I once screamed at the Hub, in front of his family and our sons, ‘I hate you.’  I threw Spud’s full bottle of milk at my husband, and when it missed, I walked over, picked it up, and threw it again.

We went for counselling.  That was a disaster.  She thought I had an issue with my weight and every time we saw her the first thing she did was compliment me on my looks and ask if I had lost weight, when I knew I hadn’t.  Consequently, I didn’t trust her.  The Hub and I said hurtful things to each other in the name of getting it all out in the open.  Things better left unsaid.  It’s why I’m not a fan of counselling, though I concede there are times when it might be essential.

At one session the counsellor took my part.  That was our last session: I wanted help to make peace in my marriage, not allies in the war against my husband.  She phoned me to apologise and said that she felt rather confused herself.  I suspect she may have been in the wrong job.

The Hub and I took matters into our own hands: we got doctors’ reports detailing how the situation was affecting us and our hosts.  We asked the Hub’s brother to throw us out, which he may have wanted to do, but didn’t; instead, he wrote a letter threatening to throw us out, and I hope he would have had the goodness to follow through on it, because I’d had enough. 

A couple of weeks later we had a phone call, offering us this house.  A week later, we were in it.  We were the fourth family to be offered the house as it was in some disrepair and other people weren’t as desperate: I’d have taken a garden shed by then.  It was a palace, if palaces come with fourteen layers of wallpaper hanging from the bathroom walls and scraggy underlay stuck to the cheap floor tiles.  Rather like I imagine Saddam Hussein’s palace must have looked after the looters came, albeit on a smaller scale.

It was a mess.  I didn’t care: I had a home at last.  We’ve cleaned it up and decorated it and it’s still a mess, but now it’s our mess. 

The area we live in is quite nice for council estates; we get bother but not nearly as much as some.  Most of the houses in our cul-de-sac are privately owned and the people look after them.  We are part of a friendly community.

A bonus was to get three bedrooms: with two boys under twelve, we were entitled to a two-bedroomed house only; it was our good fortune not to be picky about the state of this one.

My answer is qualified because I think the great kindness given to us kept us in our situation.  We were fortunate to have generous relatives but their kindness was such that we might have stayed there forever.  That would have done none of us any favours. We needed to make our situation change or we’d have been there still.  The greatest kindness they could have done would have been eviction.  The council would then have been legally obliged to house us.

Some say there is no need to live on the streets in this country because there is help available, but the help is not as forthcoming as it should be: the council saw that we had two rooms and felt that was all we needed, never mind the emotional toll on two families.  People don’t make themselves homeless for the fun of it: sometimes, they bring it about by accident, as we did; or circumstances force it upon them, such as when youngsters are brutalised at home.  Those youngsters often have a mistrust of authority as a result, so why would they ask for help?  And how would they know where to go for it?

The measure of a society is how it treats the vulnerable.  I’d say British society needs to work on that a bit.

Joke 61

24 May

Thanks to Viewfromtheside for this one.

Mother: Why are you home from school so early?

Son: I was the only one who could answer a question.

Mother: Oh, really? What was the question?

Son: Who threw the blackboard duster at the teacher?

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