‘It is estimated over 8,000 people slept rough on the streets of London throughout 2016.’
Did you know that in Trafalgar Square they have transgender crossing lights? No, neither did I. This was something I had to see for myself, so after a beautiful December day spent in London with my girlfriend, we decided to go and see the lights. Crowds milled around, a choir of carollers serenaded and people flocked around homeless art.
This December was rather frosty. I remember checking the temperature and it being around 3 degrees; way too cold for the record. But people none the less stood around enjoying the atmosphere.
Directly in front of the National Gallery was a man with sections of his poems written in white chalk on the slate. People crowded around reading this Homeless Bards work. His words intelligently crafted, his thoughts provoking, his themes kind and witty. We stood reading for 5 minutes before Eva noticed a bit of litter laying on top of the words.
Now I am going to girlfriend boast a little here. She wandered round and tiptoed through the gaps to pick the piece of litter up. I stood watching her firstly thinking ‘What is she doing!? You can’t jump on someones work they can do that.’ She then began talking to him. I finished my segment of poetry, dropped some money into the tin and went to join them; how odd this all was. Us Londoners generally don’t talk to each other.
They were deep in conversation about society and how we’re all being conned. We talked about his life, his poetry, his thoughts on the world. We stood and listened to him intrigued. A man whose mind had so much to offer, yet his pocket so little. We don’t often count the value of one’s thoughts however.
The conversation went on a little while, he told us he had written three books of poetry. That it had even been accepted into a collection. The most incredulous thing he said though; that he had had it all, yet he would choose this life every time. ‘Why? Why would someone want that life?’
He replied: ‘It isn’t about what you have but its about how you can change a life, when I see someone smile at my poetry, when people tell me they felt something. I know I’ve planted a thought, and the chance of changing someone life is worth every penny.’
We shortly left and Eva turned to me straight away and said let’s getting him a drink it’s freezing and he looks cold. Truly I haven’t smiled so hard at the thought of buying someone a drink. She challenged me, I hadn’t thought about it, I was ready to leave. But her mind was in the right place, what could we do for him? We returned with a large hot chocolate and the Homeless Bard was speechless. He couldn’t thank us enough, and really we hadn’t done anything. Just as we were walking away, he called me back and said, ‘Don’t ever let her go, she knows the value of someone like me. That’s very rare to find.’
You see it doesn’t take much. A hot drink on a cold night. He offers all that he has, and maybe we should take a little time to offer what we can. We neglect and socially exclude homeless people almost dehumanising them. We don’t like the smell, we don’t trust them, they only want our money. That’s a mindset and Eva and the Homeless Bard smashed mine.
Am I going to be the person that walks past, or the person that stops? I really hope that I’m like Eva; that I take every opportunity to share a little love and little kindness with whomever I can.
Because as The Homeless Bard said, ‘One step towards changing someones life or changing someones thinking is worth every penny.’
Side note – I also bought a copy of his book on Amazon and I thought I would share the link.