Last month one of our guests, Corky, stumbled upon my monthly newspaper column for the first time and the end result of our subsequent conversation turned out to be my offer to publish whatever he chose to write for this edition.
Now conversations with Corky don’t tend to go along the ‘normal’ lines of social interaction and I can honestly say that I have no idea how I ended up proposing this to him.
I also admit, hand on my heart, that I never expected him to come with the actual goods.
Corky is just about the loudest Scotsman I have ever met. Not only does he have the broadest accent but he is also over 6ft with some majorly impressive dreadlocks and beard. Add to this the fact that he probably has undiagnosed ADHD and refuses to conform to any of society’s expectations and you can imagine my surprise when I subsequently found him two weeks later, head bent over the table for nearly three hours, furiously writing the following… “I rely on charity. Even a hello will make my day. Manners cost nothing. I’m just glad it’s hot and dry coz obviously the rain causes more damage (and obviously everybody gets wet). Anyway I diverse. If somebody was to ask you if you could travel back in time would you? And change your life? I would guess 80 per cent of the people I have asked have said no. Ask yourself (honestly) would you?
“I’ve chosen this life. I enjoy my life. Things could be a wee bit different but they’re not. As I said I’m just glad it’s hot.
“Right! My name is Corky. Some of you may know me. I’m the loud and proud Scottish dreadlocked person which probably says a lot. Or maybe not.
“I went to Stonehenge in 1988. It changed my life (but in a good way). From then on I’ve travelled. I’ve owned three buses, five trucks and I don’t know how many caravans. It was great for years (until Thatcher, of course).
“I’ve lived on the streets on and off for 10 to 15 years. It’s been tough but it’s been good. A big learning curve – actually back to the question would you change your life if you could? I wouldn’t even the bad bits. Once again, learning curves.
“This country is falling apart. You only have to look at all the changes in the law which are mostly done without us knowing or agreeing. i.e. poll tax, Criminal Justice Bill, public order acts, ASBOs, squatting laws, room tax etc etc. I’m not allowed to swear but all of our natural resources have been ****** – miners, shipbuilders, car makers, etc!
“This is just my opinion, everyone is allowed one. We know who to blame but will it change?
“I may be a blagger and beggar but I am not a thief. So take this as you want. I feel like an old fart coz I’m falling apart but I’ve still got a few years left.”
Now, for me it’s not even the end result that matters. Yes, he’s written something that is personal to him, which reinforces the Doorway ethos of giving a voice to those who are rarely listened to, but what matters most is the journey that Corky travelled during the last two weeks.
Basically, I showed him that I had faith in his ability to attempt a task that was way outside his comfort zone. And subsequently, I have kept to my promise of getting him published in the newspaper.
So, I think that what I am trying to prove here is that the individuals you find travelling around the country and refusing to conform to society’s norms are still people at the end of the day. People with stories to tell if you just gave them a chance.
And it’s worth remembering that they all came from somewhere originally: when Corky travels down south from Scotland he has to phone his mum to tell her that he has arrived okay…