I live in the Happy Valley (the one on the telly with all the murders), it’s a sheltered life, good but sheltered. And for the first time in a few years, I went out on the razz – central Manchester for cocktails and a friend’s birthday. I was dressed in damaged vintage, mascara adding drama to the eyes. I’d made an effort.
The 8-minute stroll leaving drinks with umbrellas, retro tunes and reminiscences led me through a surreal but painfully real paradox.
I’d become a privileged reveler, one of hundreds in their shiny clothes, layers of make-up and perfume, dashing on with their comfortable lives. I walked quickly to catch the last train but the air, time, something changed. Women, men-troubled, men-handsome, dozens of people framed in shop doorways, dressed in a uniform livery; the scenes were as compulsive as theatre yet their personal spaces as precious and vulnerable as their existence.
In stretched time I watched as folk adjusted their covers attempting to be less cold, adjusted a piece of card hoping for less discomfort, half-sleeping on a bed of impressive marble. I departed but the images remained.
That could be me there, in the cold, I hate cold. My bones would be hurting. I’d struggle to truly sleep or see anything positive about life. I returned to the Happy Valley, no rough sleepers in my sheltered manor. Plenty struggling to pay the rent, only a cheque or two ahead, unable to prove to an estate agent that they are trustworthy.
I feel sick that this is normal, furious that somehow it’s okay. My coping mechanism has been intensive donations of clothes and artworks to a Shelter charity shop. Shelter have been a fighting, campaigning, active, supportive, expert force since 1966. I’ve seen my clobber in the shop, £4 here, £20 there – potentially £500 in funds (fingers crossed). It’s one action, I’m planning more.
The Shelter Vision..
“We strive every day to give people the help they need, and we campaign relentlessly to achieve our vision of a safe, secure, affordable home for everyone.”
….safe, secure, affordable home for everyone. PLEASE DONATE
*Thank you Ally M Photography for permission to use an image from ‘Streets of Manchester’. I was incredibly wowed by the set of images and found none that touched like these do. Please visit this photo series, related writing and stroll on to some impressive wedding photography too.