“How do you write a book like this? Base it on yourself. As though you’re telling a story of yourself. The sadness is part of reality, and we’ve written about that and the joy and the grief. It can be hard, but life goes around. You can’t be negative forever. We can console one another, we can talk about it. It’s sad to go through hardship alone. We’ve put all that in a book for everyone. I feel proud, very proud, in fact.”
Today was a time for reflection. We’ve been working months on our illuminated manuscript, rarely taking time to stop and discuss what it is we’ve made. We have worked pell-mell, often with great emotional intensity. There have been tears, anger, delight, and behind them the ever-present shadows of street life, the substances and the violence hovering in our periphery.
A BOOK OF OURS documents all these things, is fuelled by them and reflects on them too.
“This book, here you have the world at your fingertips. No one will love or understand you better, it’s all here. How time goes slow and fast. How it ruins you. Damaged in every bloody way, look at the state of us.”
Sometimes chaos has been snapping around our heels, sometimes it’s been a breeze. And the days we gather together are spent making these precious pages that are diaries of homelessness.
“It’s life, get in the real world. It’s reality. The calendar, the days we’ve spent and how we spend them. How we connect to the cycles of the seasons, the planets. The old pagan calendar was lunar, they thought about time differently, maybe they lived it differently. Look at the wars now, the movement of people across the globe. Syria, then before that the world wars. And before that and before that. People have always been on the move, people have always struggled, we are just the same.”
The world turns for a reason
The big answer to life’s a circle
Clocks go around, the moon is round
Circle of drugs, of mental health
The old cavemen having a fight
And the circle of homelessness itself
Rough sleep. Shelter. Outside once more.
You break it and start again
You can turn things around better
Have to go through the rigmarole
Get a flat, mess up. Repeat.
The seasons bring us round again.
A wedding ring is a circle
We are satellites, stars surround us
Don’t have to be stuck in circles
Find a way of changing our course.
Joan Campbell and Keith the Bard
This workshop was part of the project A Book of Ours, creating an illuminated manuscript with people who have experienced homelessness or at risk of. Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The Booth Centre is here to bring about positive change in the lives of people who are experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness, to help them plan for and realise a better future.