Earlier this year I became homeless and contemplated suicide.
But then things changed. I took to the road in my Ottermobile, met some amazing people, got told great stories, had many adventures, diced with involuntary death, wrote lots of things, learned who my all-weather friends are, met my grandchildren for the first time, made some self-discoveries, and fell in love.
Yesterday, in the spirit of remembrance I walked eleven miles to my parents’ graves, reading epitaphs and cenotaphs bearing the family name. All this led to the most profound epiphanic discovery of all – that these people gave their lives to me and I have a lot to live for, so to throw myself off Beachy Head would be to throw it back in their faces.
While losing a job and a home broke me in two, I had many friends and family who were there to glue me back together, and though for months on end it was just me in the van in the middle of nowhere, I was never alone. So I have a duty to all those wonderful people to see this thing through, and a duty to myself to prove to the fair-weather friends and contortionists that I won’t be giving up.
I won’t for a second pretend it’s easy. Being a gypsy is tough, just about managing is just about getting through each fucking day. It’s a battle, not a world war I grant you, nevertheless a battle.
Back in March when I lost my posh apartment in Salford Quays I relied on friends and family to store the few sticks I clung on to, which means everything I own, if it isn’t on the van, is strewn around the country like so:
- Boxes of books and scripts and things in Jayne’s attic in Yorkshire
- Dining table and chairs and my beloved plants at Kimbles’ in Salford Quays
- Wardrobe and African carvings at Dominic’s in Sheffield
- My best suits in case I get a job in Mandy’s spare room in Nantwich
- CD’s at Charlie’s in Derby
- Antique rocking horse (I kid you not) at Emily’s in Preston
- Not quite sure but I think there’s a box of something in Bubble’s house in Crewe
- A van that sits gathering moss at Gary and Janet’s in Willaston
- And finally, somewhere or other, my will
As I’ve said before in these ramblings, all this existential nonsense serves either to make me weep with sorrow or piss my pants with laughter.
Talking of which, last night I chatted unmorbidly with Mandy about the school reunion, and in posing the question “why?” we agreed it’s more than just for fun, it’s really about mortality – we’re doing this because we’re still alive (despite the odds in my case) and thinking really about how much time is there left? And in these uncertain times when poundland terrorists want to mow us down at Christmas markets because they haven’t even got the guts to wage a proper war (if such a thing exists) it’s good to do nice things and show them we won’t be beat. We stand together against the enemy, at Christmas markets or anywhere. And most important of all, making sure we make the most of what we’ve got left. And even more important than the most important of all, making sure we have a laugh.
So as we were laughing, she asked if I’d made a will, to which I replied yes but my life and death is in boxes all over the country, so I wonder where it is?
“Well,” she laughed, “sounds like it’s either in Jayne’s attic, Dominic’s cellar, Kimbles’ airing cupboard or Bubble’s back bedroom.”
I was naturally tickled by this alliterative summary, then got to seriously thinking it’s such an important document and I must dig it out. Things have changed. I’m not ready. I’ve survived all these months on the road, I’ve laughed in the black dog’s face and I’ve managed to eat on the breadline. I’ve realised the less I have the more I want to give and the more I want to show the world I’ve more to give. I will battle on till time, the greatest enemy of them all, takes me.
So as for my will, fuck knows, but whoever’s got it, I just hope I manage to find it before you do!