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There I have been sitting at home in self-pity when I was forced to go out. Two funerals had been booked for the Parish Church and as I'm the verger I had to go, and set everything up. So on Thursday morning just after 11 am I arrived to be greeted by a young stranger. He was friendly, but looked out of place standing there in the church with a can in his hand. As other members turned up I found out more information about this chap. Apparently he had arrived a day or two before, and was homeless. He had slept in the porch way of the church and looked in a sorry state. He left the church for the funeral and returned after it, sitting on the back pew with his can of drink in his hand.
I was locking up and stopped by his side as he sat there silently, starring into the oblivion. I was on my way to the cafe on River Green just a few doors down to get something to eat for my lunch. I asked if he eaten today, and then said if he wanted to come with me I would get him something to eat as well. He looked pleased as punched and within a couple of minutes we were talking away. On our arrival I ordered some food to take away and we sat down at a table as we waited for the order to be prepared.
Then he bleed his heart to me. I asked about his life and he let the flood gates open. He was 26 and was in a terrible mental state. He already had various children from various women but never saw them. He had run up rent arrears and admitted to a violent temper that had got him into constant trouble. So I asked the next obvious question. But why?
Then what he told me put my self-pity, and myself in general, into its true place. I thought I had it bad dealing with Tadger's death, but it was nothing, absolutely nothing compared to his life. He was psychical abused by his dad, and even worse his was raped until he was taken into care. Now for anyone who knows about the British care system for children it can be a hell as bad as which the poor children are taken from. The next twelve years of his life seemed to be a constant hell. He had tried to committee suicide at various times and showed me his arms with its many slash/knifes marks.
This Friday there was another funeral and when I arrived to get things set up once again my young friend was there. Once again he kept out of the way of the service. Afterwards the men of community had a talk with him, Us men had got into action, We knew he couldn't spend the winter months sleeping rough, in the the church porch or on the street, and so men had been in contact and things were arranged.
Afterwards I took him out for a quick drink, and talk, in the Rushcutters. Then he headed back to the Church Porch for hopefully his final night. A bed had been found in a hostel, although he didn't want to go I explained it was just a small step in many steps that he will need to take in getting his life back. He had had bad experiences in hostels, but this time there was a difference, this time he had men by his side to help him. Not people there to exploit him, but men there to help him.
And this whole experience brought home how lucky I have been to have certain men in my life, like my step-dad, who have been there for me when my luck has failed me. And this is why the dedication in Daniel Jones DOOM reads as follows.
This book is dedicated to Dennis King, my father; to William Cassidy, my step father; to David Cragg, my father-in-law; and to Andrew Bagshaw, my friend. Four men who have had a positive influence on my life that I shall never forget.