It’s a chilly January day in the city. I’m walking near the high street. From a distance, I see a homeless person lying on the pavement, huddled away in their sleeping-bag.
As I get closer, I flinch. It’s not a person at all.
It is three grey bin bags, waiting to be collected.
This is what five years of living in a northern English city does to you. Your expectations make a U-turn for the worse, especially on days like this.
Yes, we learn that we have to keep our hopes up. Toughen up, look ahead, don’t despair. That’s our duty. As grown-ups. As citizens. As teachers, nurses, social workers…
But at the end of the day, that’s just public relations. Essential to our lives, to our living together, but not always true to our feelings. And not – dare I say it – not always the best course of action.
Once in a while, might I be permitted to accept the gloom? For if everything is shiny and hopeful, I may lose my powers of judgement.
I see this city today, and am reminded that it needs changing.
P.S. Will the reader forgive me for not including an attractive picture in this post?
This was written in January. That month, however, seemed to need something written in a different tone.