Writing this blog is long overdue and I can only blame myself for not taking the same advice I gave to Terry (not his real name), a resident in a men’s hostel for the homeless, where I’d worked on a part-time basis.
‘If you want to tell a story, put pen to paper. Get it out of your head, down into your fingers and onto the page, or punch the keyboard on your laptop, if that’s the case.’
Simplistic, easily said, but as we all know, there is a lot more to writing a story, and I’m well aware how isolated you can feel when searching for the right words to put on a blank sheet.
Terry is about fifty or so, a lean-looking figure without an ounce of fat on him, and pretty fit when not drinking. He is (or was) an engineer, and as far as I could gather, had worked overseas on a variety of construction projects, and in the process had made a lot of money, which he spent freely. He’s fond of a drink, and somewhere along the line a downward spiral started. What triggered it? I don’t know (Terry will have to tell his story), but it led to losing his job, his home, and his wife.
So, when I met him he was homeless and broke, his state benefits being his only source of income. In the hostel, I would sit with him for awhile and listen to some of his stories, which he would tell with a twinkle in his eye and a sudden smile when he remembered some past event.
One day, to encourage him, I gave him a notebook and a ballpoint, along with a paperback on how to write short stories. I suggested that he write a few words on anything that came to mind and we would take it from there, the next time we had a chat.
I left the hostel shortly after that, but when I returned for a visit I discovered he had been given a substantial benefits grant and had blown the lot in the local pubs.
He is no longer in the hostel, and I have no idea if he ever wrote anything in the notebook, but without a doubt he has a story to tell, and I for one am looking forward to reading it.
As I write this, I am reminded of an Englishman who did write his story, and has been selling it to the tourists on the Algarve for past few years. But I’ll keep that for another blog.