I came home from work yesterday to find myself locked out of my house. I’d like to blame an evil money-grabbing landlord, I’d like to blame the council, the police, the state. I’d like to blame the man. But I can’t. The blame lies squarely at my door. The very door I found myself hammering on last night because I’d forgotten my keys. And this was just the first of many mistakes I made that evening.
Frantically trying to get hold of my AWOL housemate, fellow Third Estate writer, Reuben, I realised to my cost that I’d not thought to charge my phone. Locked out in the cold and the gathering dark with a shopping bag full of fast defrosting pizza and melting icecream, I decided to pass the time down the local pub.
After buying one pint at a cost to my pocket of £3.25, I realised it would be an expensive place to wait. Not least on account of my third mistake, not bringing very much money out with me that day.
I had no home to go to, no phone to help me sort out my situation or while away the hours sending inane texts to anyone who cared to hear my sob story, a rapidly diminishing pocketful of shrapnel and absolutely nothing to do with my time. What did I do? I bought two cans of Carlsberg and sat on my doorstep drinking them. One hundred and fifty minutes of homelessness had driven me to drink. I hasten to point out that this was the original Carlsberg, but I don’t doubt if Reuben had taken any longer to get back I would probably have turned to the Special Brew and a brown paper bag.
So what did my two and a half hours of effective homelessness teach me? Life on the streets is bloody boring and there’s very little else to do but turn to alcohol. So next time you pass a drunk in the street throwing up into his shoe, spare a thought for him. And maybe let’s rethink our patronising notions of charity. Why give to the homeless if they’ll only spend it getting drunk? I did. But life on the streets is hard and there’s bugger all else to do.