Archive | 20:29

Life On His Own Terms

12 Jun

Sitting on a public bench in the city centre at the end of a long day, waiting to meet Husb to walk home and watching other workers doing last-minute shopping and heading for buses and cars, I spotted a local character standing opposite, so of course I grabbed my sketchbook and had a scribble.

I won’t name him because he’s a gentle man who doesn’t like attracting attention, but I have seen him on the city’s streets now since I was a schoolgirl, when he was a young man who had chosen to give up a conventional lifestyle and live as a ‘tramp’ on the streets. It’s four decades on and he still chooses to live the same lifestyle. He’s very unkempt and he drags a large sack of his belongings wherever he goes, but he’s always seemed healthy enough and he’s friendly and well-spoken  in his quiet way and has never been known to harm anyone. Once he found a bag with £10,000 in it and took it straight to the police station, every penny, and even refused a generous reward from the money’s astonished owner.

I’ve noticed recently that he’s now very grey and looking a bit frail. It’s quite worrying but he shows no sign of wanting to come off the streets. He’s had offers of accommodation and the caring services have certainly been keeping an eye out for him, but he carries on with his chosen lifestyle.

He’s very well known and well-regarded locally, no-one seems to mind that he’s lived so unconventionally for so many years. Visitors to the city are sometimes shocked, because he does look a bit of a state, but those that chat to him quickly realise that he’s living life on his own terms. I’m glad I live in a place where such eccentricity is accepted and I hope he is able to continue with his chosen lifestyle for as long as he wants.

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