Mrs P met one such while out walking the dog yesterday, a young lad living rough in the woods because he had nowhere else to go. He was in his mid-20s and was about as presentable as he could be after sleeping under the stars for a couple of nights with just a thin blanket to keep him warm.
He’d asked for some water at a local pub and been shown the door and I think it was this that determined Mrs P to do what she could after she came home.
Her original plan was to put together a small parcel of food and water and a few bits and pieces, but the Ikea bag began to fill. First with tuna and mayo sandwiches, some cheese and tomato ones for good measure, a two litre bottle of fresh water and a bottle of juice. Then a couple of t-shirts and a blanket and soap, razor and a towel.
Next came a one-man tent that had been gathering dust in the garage, some ciggies, a Colin Dexter book and I threw in one of those wind-up radios with torch combined.
We tracked him down later still by the river watching the fly-fishermen and took him to the campsite area where he could stay for a few nights or more without fear of being moved on or roused in the night by a countryside warden. With nowhere else to go he simply walked, eventually ending up nine miles away with not much of an idea about what to do next.
His name is Dean and his story is not unique. He’d lived in Wythenshawe and had been not so much abused as neglected by alcoholic parents. Girlfriend and son moved into his flat and while he was away she stripped the place and disappeared.
He’s no angel that’s for sure. In fact he admitted to having an asbo preventing from going within slanging match distance of his girlfriend, but then she has one preventing her from going near him. I wondered if maybe they’re fitted with some sort of magnetic tags designed to repel each other. In any event, we weren’t about to invite him home, but doing nothing didn’t seem an option.
And that’s why I think the human kindness has gone a little sour, not just us prejudging his trustworthiness, but the people in the pub who couldn’t even spare him a glass of water and the system that seems happy for lads like him to go down the plughole. Because no home, no job, no job, no home and so on.
The media doesn’t care either. The Daily Mail might have shown some concern about his deprived childhood if he had died at the hands of his parents at 18 months, in which case he would have been a ‘tragic tot’. At 20 years old, their readers would rather he was dead and not a drain on their taxes with his fecklessness.
Od dear, I seem to have drifted into a rant, so I’ll stop there, except to wish him well and hope the tent didn’t need waterproofing.