Category Archives: Uncategorized

I Just Want You To Say Hello.

Say hello, that’s all.

Just say hello.

A simple hello. Look me in the eye and say hello.

Please. Please don’t pass me by or cross the street. Your whispers to your friends breaking my heart. The looks of disgust reinforce what I’m starting to believe, that I am no one.

I may be homeless but I’m just like you. Flesh, blood, human. My heart beats and breaks, so does yours.

I may speak to myself or look a little crazy to you.

Do you use that word crazy about me? Do you? They say a homeless person’s mental health starts to go after three days on the streets. Some of us got here because of our mental health issues. So please, next time you think of calling me or my friends crazy, don’t. We’re just calling you Pearl Jam fans. You’re people who’re going to a concert.

I’m a person who lives in a shelter or on the street or in my car or a disused building. Even so, I’m a person even if you might forget that sometimes.

Please say hello. Even ask me my name, I do have one you know. It’s not the drunk, the bum, that fucking tramp, get a job you lazy prick. I have a name.

Just like you.

Some of us drink, use drugs, that’s why some of us got here, others use it to get through the day.

Most of us would love a job, some of us are too beat up we can’t. But with care, compassion and patience we may be able to work again. My buddy up the street knows all about tech stuff, I don’t I’m older but I used to love working with cars. The lady over there, she was a waitress but the place closed down and she couldn’t find another job, then the bills, the rent…anyway, you know the story. Or do you? Or are we all just bums? Did you ever stop and talk to one of us and find out how we got here? You know a lot of us were abused? You knew that.

A day of shame, hopelessness, hunger, grief. A day spent looking down, a day spent waiting for it to end, to turn into night to hopefully sleep. A night of rest, maybe somewhere dry and safe. Sometimes we get pissed on by drunk people but that’s ok, they’re on a night out so getting drunk is acceptable and who cares, I’m just a bum and it was only for laughs.

I might make it through the night. If I do I might find some food or somewhere to wash. I forget I don’t wash because when I remember the shame is so great I want to die. I don’t want to stink. None of us do. The guy who lost his good job and couldn’t pay the mortgage, then his wife left and he slept in his car thinking there’d be another job but there wasn’t. The lady whose husband beat her and no one did anything and she ran away to nowhere because it was better than beatings. She wants to wash. To sleep in a bed. The booze gets her through the pain, the terror. She hasn’t started working the streets. Some do. They all hate it. We’d all love a wash. Oh to soak in a hot bath then sleep in a bed with fresh sheets. I remember that. It’s been a while though.

Just say hello. Please. Find out my name. Take ten minutes before you see your band, stand in line for a tshirt.

Go to your show. Have a great time. These shows might change our lives, that band you love are doing so much. But I still need to be seen, it won’t happen overnight. See me as human. My heart beats like yours, breaks like yours.

I have a name.

Do you have the time to find it out, to treat me as a person before you go to your rock n roll show? Before winter comes and some of us die from the cold.

My friend used to go and see your band before he had the breakdown that lost him his home. He tells me he couldn’t get out of bed for weeks and lost his job, depression really hits some people hard. He says sometimes a crowd at a Pearl Jam concert all scream hello. We laugh and say imagine if just one said hello today, just one stopped and didn’t walk on by.

Can you be that one? Please?

I do have a name.

#JustSayHello

#BecauseYouMatter

#BecauseTheyMatter

#PJHomeShows

#PJLive2018

#Seattle

#Homelessness

I’m Tired

I’m Tired.

I’m tired. So fucking tired.

I’m tired of reading about another death by suicide. Knowing that for each one I read there are hundreds I don’t read about, knowing that so many people are suffering.

Tired that mental health is massively underfunded in this country yet we can spend billions on bombs.

I’m heartbroken that we’re taught to say nothing when we’re hurting by a society that prizes false positivity. A society that, on the whole, would rather we ignore or bury our wounds than listen to them.

As a young man the only thing that would stop the fantasies of killing myself were drink and drugs. I couldn’t tell anyone, I got fired from a job because my performance dropped. It dropped because it’s hard to do paperwork properly when I’m wishing I had a gun to shoot myself with. I couldn’t tell anyone I lived with so I suffered in silence. Then I drank and used to quiet the torturous scenes playing in my head. And this was a pattern. Use something, anything to stop the visions.

I’m tired of meeting people who have asked for help but are put on waiting lists. Tired that a broken heart isn’t taken as seriously as a broken finger because it can’t be seen.

There are many reasons Given To Live exists. One is to tell the hurting they matter. Because so often that’s what we need most, to feel like we matter. But when we lose our voice and don’t speak our suffering we likely won’t feel like we matter. We have to feel safe, have to know the listener won’t dismiss our story. Our broken hearts brake that little bit more when we hear…oh, that’s not so bad…I had it worse…count your blessings, there’s others worse off…put your big boy/girl pants on…the list of platitudes is endless. And they each hurt.

There is more mental health awareness than before. And there needs more. Much, much more.

#mentalhealthawarenessweek

#mentalhealth

#becauseyoumatter

http://www.giventolive.com

Not Everyone Is Dreaming Of A White Christmas.

(This was written in December, with the snow and freezing conditions in the UK today this still holds true. And does every day.)

I’m on my way to meet two young people to let them know Given To Live is taking them to a show. This is what GTL does, tries through live music to make someone’s world a better place.

It’s a two train journey, over three hours travel each way. And it’s cold. I’m cold. Waiting on platforms I overhear people saying…my god it’s cold…its sooo cold…it’s freezing.

It really is freezing. And the countryside looks fantastic out of the train window, cloaked in white. And while I nip out to buy a warming coffee in between trains I see a young man sat motionless wrapped in a sleeping bag.

And I remember when I was homeless. It was summer, a warm summer and it still was chilly at night. It’s not like going camping when you’re looking for a safe doorway or car park. A safe space where no one will abuse you, attack you, piss on you because it’s a laugh on a night out.

Homelessness isn’t all drink and drugs. And even if it was wouldn’t you want something to take away the desolation? Some say it’s a choice…can you imagine how terrible a life must be to make that choice?

I’m going to be cold again when I get off this train. Then I’ll be picked and into the warmth of a car and taken to the college where the two young people are. I’m looking forward to writing the story, which I’ll do in the warmth. I won’t be afraid, humiliated, desperate for a place in a shelter that won’t have room for everyone who needs it.

This post won’t stop homelessness, won’t stop those who will freeze to death from dying. But maybe you can buy a sandwich or a hot drink.

Just as importantly you can look a homeless person in the eye and say hello, trust me it really makes a difference being treated as human. Maybe you’ve a spare jumper, coat, sleeping bag you could give away or donate to a shelter.

Not everyone is dreaming of a white Christmas.

Sea Lions

Sea Lions.

The sea lions barked and shouted.

Played, pushed, lay peacefully and sniffed the air deeply.

The sea lions fought for position, to be the boss.

Fought to impress a lioness.

They shouted with full bellies, not worrying about the two legged watchers taking in the scene of nature at play.

Watchers who daily poison the sea lions world, daily dump toxic loads, daily lay murderous traps of discarded plastic.

Finished with barking, strutting, playing, sniffing and loving the sea lions slept.

Slept in front of the watching humans.

Arrogantly intelligent humans that aren’t smart enough not to destroy the world they live in.

I have wished for so long, how I wish for you today.

Dad died a couple of weeks ago and was cremated on Tuesday. 
He was my hero until my journey into rehab and therapy opened my eyes. Opened my eyes to seeing that things that I shrugged my shoulders at because they’d simply been part of my life became real. Then therapy asked me to grow up, to mature and I accepted the question and became conscious. Not fully or perfect but awake. And this in turn created a chasm between me and my dad; and my family what little there is. 
What I’ve realised this last few days is there is nothing in a relationship if it’s just a script. I loved my dad, I loved how our sense of humours were perfectly in sync. But the conversation never went past him. Never went past sport and gambling, past his stories about him and pretty much everyone had him as amazing. 

He did do some truly awful things to me, both as an adult as well as a child. But as this week has passed and I’ve wondered, felt, mused upon things I realise the biggest heartbreak is I never knew him. I knew Tom Pugh (both Toms but not named after him) but not Tom. I knew dad but not a father. His masks were so fierce no one got in. Sure, some sentimental tears about my mum and grandfather but that was it. 

Tom Pugh died the day he fell, drunk, and broke bones in his back in the summer of ’14. He was no longer able to play tennis, no longer able to be the sports star with his stories (he played cricket for Gloucestershire, won God knows how many racquets tournaments), no longer able to be the mask he’d worn for so long. And he had no idea how to be Tom, to be human. 

I went to see him a lot early last year. In the end come May I didn’t bother and never spoke to him again. I knew he was going to die, knew I wanted him to. For me and for him. All last month I kept wanting to call but I couldn’t, I didn’t because I knew it would be just the same and my heart would break a little more. Although it’s only now I realised my heart was breaking each time we spoke. I’d get angry, frustrated, sometimes I’d hurt. But it was so usual my reaction was the same pretty much every time. 

I wondered why did I go and see dad so often last year? The answer is I wanted to be able to love him and him love me. And he couldn’t allow either though in his own way he tried by leaving a note a couple of times. In the end we had one fight too many and I gave up. Maybe I shouldn’t have, maybe it was the right thing to do. Maybe if I hadn’t he’d have written a note that said I love, the actual words. He never said that. 

I wish I knew then that was what I was doing. I’d have simply told him I’m there because I want to love him before he dies. But I didn’t know consciously. And I’d walk in alone. No support or understanding from my very estranged brother and sister, no wife or partner to say take a breath or coax the tears at the end of the day. I didn’t really do very well but I tried. I’ve a long way to go. 

I went to see him on Monday in the funeral home or whatever it was. I’m glad. I could be honest and vulnerable without him answering back and, to use one of his expressions, smashing me to smithereens which is what he did. I told him I loved him, which I’d forgotten in all the hurt, and I wished he’d once said he loved me or he’s proud of me. And he should have been proud. Yes, I did some really shitty stuff in my life when I was using and drinking. But without any help from my family I got myself back. Back after being homeless, many overdoses, suicidal, depression, back to living. But he never wanted to know, always changed the subject if I tried to bring it up. 

And it’s so confusing because I only have his script, his masks to miss and I got so tired of those so long ago. Then I miss what could have been, what should have been and it’s hurts so much, so very much. 

I loved him, I just wish I could’ve found him. Even once.