I remember clearly my first experience in the dark and hopeless tunnels of the Waterloo subways, I was no more than 10. I had gone with a friend and her parent's, I forget what for but to get where ever it was we were going we had to pass under this well known homeless hangout. Except for me it wasn't well known, I was quite well educated in the ways of the world, regularly having waifs and strays in and out of mums I was under no illusion life was perfect, but wandering on the suspended pathways lit by a dank orange glow, followed by the glazed black eyes of London's forgotten people a stark grey cold shivered it's way to my very soul. I saw then in those few short minutes how cruel the world is. I swore then as long as I could give to others I would.
Throughout my life I have found myself there on many more occasions, I am not scared as some people and I would not avoid walking through here as the sickness that rises in my belly reminds me to never give up not in a selfish sense I mean on everything, for those that can not be heard, despite the eerie linger of dread in the tunnels there is hope, don't be pushed underground. It's all quite poetic.
It seems now that that poetic air has made it on to the walls, it really stops you in your tracks. Amidst all the chaos above and the sadness below there now interrupts beautiful words from others experiences and dreams. At first I am drawn in, awe at the configuration, ponder the sentiment and marvel at the joy on the peeling paint cracked and pissed stained tiles.
Unfortunately it's a short felt contentment as I then stumble on some laid out cardboard boxes, clearly someones bed and I crash back to reality. It's wonderful to decorate our world with art, but when there are thousands of people sleeping on the streets every night can we really spare the money? Even if the cost of the paint, the labour and the stencils only came to the price of one meal (which I very much doubt!) wouldn't that money be better spent. We call ourselves a developed country, but we lack humanity in so many ways.
It's been 18 years since I first walked through these subways and nothing in the harsh reality of things has changed, such a powerfull country and in 18 years the thousands of people that live rough just keeps growing and all our goverment can manage is to try and blind the public with some pretty words. It seems to work for too many.
3 weeks ago