Continuing on from the memories charted in his book Invisible: A Diary of Rough Sleeping in Britain, Andrew Fraser writes a personal note on the lengths people will sometimes go to in tormenting the homeless.
I’d been sleeping in an alcove in Romford. But it was freezing and I kept getting robbed.
So I made my way to the bus stop. Not quite sure where to go or what to do.
The N8 bus came and I just knew I had to get out of town. So, showing my sleeping bag to the driver I jumped on for free and off I went … to where? Who knows …
I ended up at Tottenham Court Road. ‘This is a bit nicer’ I thought to myself. It’s scenic.
I made a good friend down there. A young lad called Marius. We slept in an alcove and you could see the BT Tower.
We would go to the American Church for soup and toiletries. It seemed like an answer. It seemed like an antidote to the casual violence of Romford.
And on a weekend I would go and sing next to Compton’s Bar on old Compton Street. I have a good voice and I would make decent money. People would bring food and I would bring him dinner ‘home’ to our alcove.
It was all sweet and it seemed like maybe, for once, I’d made the right choice.
Then it came to this Saturday night in November and I was singing on Old Compton Street and this guy interrupts me. He tells me he is homeless too. Turns out he wasn’t.
He hated homeless people and he tricked me … with rum.
‘Would you like a rum!’ he asked.
Now rum is my favourite tipple.
So we had one. Then two.
Then on the third one he slipped a heavy laxative and a sedative in my drink and ran off laughing.
I couldn’t work out what he was laughing about until one minute later I shit myself …
I had to wipe my arse on Old Compton Street. ‘You are disgusting mate’ said one passer-by.
Fortunately I had wet wipes and spare trousers.
But I was still feeling the effects of the sedative. I collapsed outside a French patisserie. Just about managed to climb into my sleeping bag.
It rained that night and when I woke up I was in a puddle. But the people from the shop had brought me a chocolate croissant.
I got the next bus back to Romford.
If you appreciate my words and want to contribute to my survival my name is Andrew Fraser. Acct 81760780, Sort 09 01 28.
I can’t do it on thin air and it will help keep me of the streets.
PS… Writing this is not a catharsis. It’s deeply upsetting but I want you to understand just how cruel the ‘general” public are to homeless people like me. I have somewhere to sleep, thank God, for now, but I will never not be homeless.
Andrew blogs at Diary of a Rough Sleeper
Pic: Old Compton Street, by N Chadwick