Bob, Billy and Lewis are REAL people. They are human beings but human beings society fails to recognise, fails to respect, fails to value and above all fails to love. These are not their real names but they are REAL people, indeed they are human beings just like you and just like me !
Thursday morning 4am. I was on my way to the radio studio to broadcast Dave's Disco the podcast from which was played on Saturday at the Dreamsai Lunchof Love. I pulled up outside Milton Keynes Council's Civic Offices. I had a letter to push through the letter box, a letter complaining abut the council's failure to support a vulnerable adult. I knew I was wasting my time and the ink I had expended on a sheet of paper a waste but you have to go through the system don't you ? The wind was blowing a gale and it was lashing down with rain.
There I met BOB. That's not his real name of course.
4am, this man was walking along. He turned to walk towards my car then changed his mind and moved off again. I opened the door: Hang on mate - wait - what do you want ? I fumbled in the dark to find the letter to put through the council's letter box then stepped out to meet him.
Bob was a tall friend, I guess aged around thirty, who was soaked to the skin. I knew what he wanted. Or did I ?
Have you got a bit of change ? Off to buy some drugs. A homeless rough-sleeper in search of his fix. NO NO NO ! Homeless and rough-sleeping yes, soaked to the skin yes but he was NOT a drug addict. He was on his way to the all-night McDonald's primarily to be in the warm and out of the rain there to spend the few coins he had on something to eat. Even if he was begging for dug money I would have given him something - an addict is not a bad person but a victim of bad. I gave him money to buy a breakfast.
We then stood in the wind and rain talking for twenty or so minutes. What a lovely, beautiful man. Yes, he was homeless and rough-sleeping. His tent, just along the way from Milton Keynes Council's offices, had blown over. Many of his belongings had blown away, been picked up and stolen. Please do not tell me that Milton Keynes Council did not know he existed.
I talked to him about getting help but he knew the situation was futile. He said he wanted to get to Luton where the council is better at supporting homeless rough-sleepers. Is it ? I don't know. The important thing is that was his perception.
He had problems with his eyes but could not get any help. He is a non-person. NO HE IS A HUMAN BEING.
NO, he was not a drug addict. I know how to recognise an addict, trust me he was not one. He explained that he had been an alcoholic and went on to say how he was treated and escaped the situation. He told me how he had become homeless. His grandfather had been contributing £400 a month towards his rent. When his grandfather died the money stopped and the income he had working as a plasterer was not enough to pay for his private rented accommodation. I do not know if Milton Keynes was or was not the local authority - probably not and it does not matter but that local authority said it could not help. I said I did not know if it Was Milton Keynes Council or not, I can actually name SIX people the systems within Milton Keynes Council have in recent months have constructively made homeless. Not all ended up rough-sleeping but had it been left to the council they would have.
With every word of conversation my heart warmed to him, warmed while at the same bleeding.
I returned to the car and grabbed one of the information sheets I have for Dreamsai on which I list phone numbers of help lines, details of the soup run and food bank locations. These are deliberately laminated so the information is not affected by the rain. I told him about Saturday's Dreamsai Lunch of Love and begged him to come along. He said he would.
As we parted, me off to the radio studio and Bob to McDonald's he kept thanking me, shaking my hand and saying how pleased he was to have spent time with me. When I got to the radio studio I was soaked to the skin. I broadcast my 279th show, if you listento the podcast you will hear how the friendship we had experienced in the wind and in the pouring rain outside Milton Keynes Council's Civic Offices lifted the show to a happy and I hope inspiring level.
Bob did not turn up to Dreamsai's Lunch of Love. After it was over I went in search of him. I could not find him. Perhaps he had gone to Luton. Perhaps he had died. Who cares ? I CARE ! I am a human being, Bob is a human being, he is my friend and I CARE !
Billy is a regular visitor to the Dreamsai Lunch ofLove, we always have a little chat and a laugh but it is always small-talk.
At the lunch Bob failed to turn up to I overheard Billy, again that is not his real name, saying: If you are a drug addict Milton Keynes is NOT the place to find help. If you have mental health issues and need help you will NOT find it in Milton Keynes. If you are homeless do NOT look for support you will NOT get it in Milton Keynes !
I approached Billy and pushed myself into his conversation. He suggested we step outside and speak in private. We talked for ages and ages, or should I say that Billy talked for ages and I listened.
Billy said he had had a brilliant life so being homeless and rough-sleeping was not what his life had been about and did not matter. As we talked it became clear his anger a frustration with the "system", an anger and frustration I share was not for himself but for others.
No, he is not a drug addict but watches every day the way criminals prey on and manipulate homeless rough-sleepers.
I am wondering what Billy did earlier in life, I wouldn't mind betting he was a Professor of Philosophy in a major university. He did not just talk about the failings of government, government covering decades - indeed centuries, of the multiple failings of Milton Keynes Council but gave his insight into the causes of those failings.
Take a chicken, Billy said, hold it up. There is a LEFT WING and there is a RIGHT WING which never meet. Both fail to understand that there is a heart beating in the middle !
My way of regarding this level of failure is to say that the right wing is totally oblivious to the existence of REAL people. The left wing knows real people exist but thinks they are only there for them to play politics with. A politician, particularly at local level, will play to the gallery waving at those in the expensive corporate boxes but never look down to see REAL people sitting in the stalls.
Billy talked about how criminal drug dealers groom vulnerable people, particularly chidren. His insight and passion was both deep and intense. He blamed a society where life revolves around a smart phone. I hate smart phones and refuse to use one. I think a smart phone is the world's worst invention. Billy explained how the younger generation today is being destroyed by the damn things.
Did you know, I said, there is a Class A drug dealer working out of YMCA Milton Keynes where he is living. This is something I was told and something I put into Crime Stoppers for the police to investigate.
You are wrong ! I was told by Bily. There is not one class a drug dealer operating out of YMCA Milton Keynes, there are TWO !
Billy told me there were one thousand people making money from the illegal drug trade in Milton Keynes. My immediate reaction was to say that was a grossexaggeration but I fear it may not be. If you want to buy illegal drugs I know that North Ninth Street adjacent to Milton Keynes Civic Offices is a good place to be. Another good place is Campbell Park named after Lord Campbell of Eskin, the Chairman of Milton Keynes Development Corporation. What a way to celebrate the achievement of this man ! There is, of course, what is known colloquially as The YMCA Bridge, that's an excellent place to buy drugs. many times I have told Milton Keynes Council of the drug came located there. Many times I have wasted my breath.
Billy knew the names of local politicians, departments within Milton Keynes Council and could explain at length his perception of their failure to recognise that in the centre of left and right wings there is a beating heart, a beating heart of a real person - a humanbeing. Sadly a human being that counts for nothing.
Lewis IS a drug addict. He has been an addict and homeless rough-sleeping for a number of years. I have known of the existence of Lewis for some time but I met him for the first time during our taking food from Dreamsai to homeless rough sleepers after the lunch.
The weather was harsher even than when I met Bob earlier in the week. Lewis was in a desperate situation. To avid the storm he had slept in a covered private car park. No, he shouldn't have done that but do you blame him ? The security had chased him away and thrown all his few belongings into a skip. What little he had he had lost. I saw his shoes, the soles were falling off and so his feet were wet. He was hungry and he was cold.
I began by verbally attacking the security guards for which I am now embarrassed, then backed off, apologised profusely and recovered Lewis's property. We all parted friends. Lewis and I are now friends.
With the wind blowing and the rain lashing we walked along to my car so we could sit and chat. Trying to hold his wet sleeping bag and his bits and pieces Lewis's trousers kept sliding down his legs revealing his underpants. He was so skinny and he did not have a belt to hold his trousers round his waist.
Talking in the car I wish there had been a camera tobroadcast the conversation to every television network in every country of the world. What an incredible man yet to so many he is sub-human and worthless.
Our conversation covered three areas.
Lewis knew Jimmy Owens who was found dead in his tent in Milton Keynes. Jimmy was one of my formerstudents from when I was head of year at Leon School. It was Jimmy's death that first moved mt to become involved i the lack of love for homeless rough-sleepers.
Jimmy, I knew him as James, was a happy go lucky teenager with a great life ahead of him. As Lewis described him he had not changed. Lewis said he was always cracking a joke and larking about. Jimmy died three and a half years ago, DO NOT believe the lies and fake news in the media ! His death DID NOT spur Milton Keynes Council into action. If it had then Lewis and others like him would not be in their current situation.
Throughout those years Lewis has not been able toget any help. We talked and he said he was trying to get ID. ID aint going to put dry warm clothes on his body. ID aint going to put food in his belly and stop his trousers falling down all the time. ID aint going to find him somewhere warm and dry to sleep. ID aint going to give him the love he needs.
We talked about drugs. If you want to end criminal drug activity in Milton Keynes then Lewis is the man to take advice from. His philosophy is if drugs were decriminalised, as they are in certain enlightened parts of the world, and sold under licence as is alcohol and tobacco it would no longer be cool, cool is the word he used, to take drugs and they would fade into a background of insignificance. Given that never happening he knew exactly how to set up a support system, a support system which currently does not exist in Milton Keynes.
Lewis believes in the death penalty for some seriouscrimes but he also firmly believes that petty crime and anti-social behaviour associated with drug addiction MUST be punished with community service orders so offenders can give back constructively to society. Those community service orders must be a positive a experience for those engaged in them and they have to be part of a larger programme of support and reform.
He talked about the lack of support for addicts which means the situation in Milton Keynes is and always will be on an upward spiral.
We then talked about my hobby of writing and my ambition to engage people like Lewis in writing stories. It could be fiction or it could be their own autobiographies. Autobiography means SELF - LIFE - WRITING. I see it as a support mechanism for the victims and a way to grab hold of those like Milton Keynes Council which fails to recognise human beings.
When we parted Lewis kept hugging me and thanking me. I got into my Jaguar and drove home to my warm home and something to eat. Lewis bundled his belongings into his wet sleeping bag then set off in search of somewhere to spend the night.
I am publishing this account A TRILOGY OF TRAGEDY as a blog. I am inviting those who read it to e-mail me with their comments: email@example.com or hit me on Facebook. I will keep your comments anonymous but will add them to the text. I will then send it to every single member of Milton Keynes Council. I will edit the text to remove the words Milton Keynes and Council so making it geographically anonymous. I will then publish on Amazon as: A TRILOGY OF TRAGEDY - AN ESSAY SHAMING CRUELTY.