Me and my mate are out of school, we have been for a while.
A year ago we began breaking into empty houses and setting up bases in them. It is fun.
Summer on the Avenue and we are nonchalantly prising wooden boards off a window of the abandoned halls of residence of Southampton. We are behind the Avenue on the far side of halls, a large house painted light blue, not stately but impressive. We have a bag full of tools and my blue and orange Converse rucksack is on the ground squashing overgrown vegetation.
We are not hidden but similarly not obvious and my mate, fag dangling from lips, pries the last of the wood off.
We are in. Needles and baggies cover the floor, we see by torchlight. The baggies contain white powder and there are packets labelled citric acid. The packets are transparent with purple faded to lilac blocks and white text, I recognise the design from a local cash and carry, they are spice packets. I gather baggies of the white powder and my mate leaves with a lock knife with a broken blade.
Southampton Police Station, the white powder is citric acid…used to mix with heroin.
“What would you have done if it was something else?” The interviewing officer asks me.
“Dunno” I reply
I am released. Possession of citric acid is not an offence.
I am reading books….the Famous 5, the Hardy Boys and the 3 Investigators. They are adventurers.
I spent time on the streets and I notice the homeless. I noticed them before I spent time on the streets because I like people.
I was a young man of 17 sleeping on the streets of London, by the Thames and on the steps of Waterloo Station. How did this time effect me? I began to learn to travel light, I prefer being unburdened and my greatest one is solving the external and internal confusion of this Iron Age.
I think on the streets the world notices you less but you notice the world more. I experienced a despairing calm in having no societal obligations.
I saw a young woman who looked to be in her early twenties sitting on the steps of Waterloo Station. She was also on the streets and I wanted to talk to her, she was not there the next night. I found transience to be a staple of living on the streets. If I were to be asked about life on the streets I could not answer because I did not live there. I was picked up after two weeks having been reported missing. I remember a man waking me up on the steps of Waterloo station to give me a pack of biscuits. He told me, when asked, that he was an addict and was also on the streets.
I think kindness is especially noticed in times of weakness.