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a free street magazine for Cambridge
circulation : 2000
WW Spring 2009 layout
cover images by Nick Ward this issue’s featured artist
The Willow Walker is a free street magazine publishing the work of homeless, ex-homeless and vulnerably housed contributors. Centre 33 provides free and confidential services for young people in Cambridge City, South and East Cambs. Phone: 01223 316488 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The magazine is an ECHG project, published quarterly with a distribution of 2000.
THERE’S MORE ONLINE ...
SUBSCRIBE ... ADVERTISE ... CONTRIBUTE ...
Contact the Editor, Kirsten Lavers 17-19 Willow Walk, Cambridge CB1 1LB email@example.com 07962 685220
PERFECT CLEANING SERVICES Contact: 01223 301964 Mobile: 07916 336041
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OUR FIRST YEAR ... Cambridge Link-Up is a community group run by homeless people FOR homeless people ...
Get Involved: Cambridge Link-Up meets on the first Wednesday of every month from 3pm - 5pm, Self-Build 222 Victoria Rd.
Look at what we have achieved ... Celebrating our first birthday with cake! - April 1 2009
We have turned this forgotten corner of wasteland at 222 into a respectful memorial garden.
homeless not hopeless ...
Special thanks to: all the volunteer gardeners, Travis Perkins and the Cambridgeshire Foundation. Official opening event will be held in June 2009
We have recorded a double CD ‘Both Sides Of The Tracks’ involving over 30 musicians, all sharing experiences of homelessness in Cambridge and staged two live concerts at The Leper Chapel and The Man On The Moon. With Awards for All Lottery funding.
We run craft activities sessions at Wintercomfort Day Centre 11am - 2.30pm alternate Thursdays, keeping the centre open when it would normally close for staff team meetings and making items to sell on our fundraising stalls. >> We have awarded Link-Up Grants for work boots, a guitar, spectacles, Christmas B&B accomodation for a couple staying at Jimmy’s and many other good causes. All made possible by raising money by selling crafts and plants on our Link-Up stall. << Our Chief Web Monkey - Scott McCabe, won a national IT4Communities Award for his work on our website - check it out ...
more info > www.cambridgelinkup.org.uk (or call Emma on 07896 717667)
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ROBERT WAUGH ALSO PLAYS CHESS Until recently Robert Waugh was living at Willow Walk, after an initial stay at Jimmy’s Nightshelter. He has become well known amongst the homeless community as a member of the Street Voices ensemble. Robert is a multi-talented person, not only does he play a mean blues harmonica, he is also a gifted artist and in this article reveals his deep knowledge and enthusiasm for the game of chess. Although he no longers plays competitively, he enjoys a social game and usually wins! If you fancy taking Robert on over the chess board look out for him at the Cambridge Link-Up Stall at Strawberry Fair where he will be playing 20 minute games with a £10 prize if you win, to raise money for Cambridge Link-Up’s projects and grants
learnt chess first as a kid at school. I was nothing special. It was only years later when I was living in the West Midlands that I took it up seriously. There was a chess club near where I lived and I went in and I played a few games and I got hammered in every one against a guy called Bill Evans. His son was a top chess player, Pete his name was. He gave me the book ‘How to think ahead in Chess’ It was a basic book but it paid off. I read it like a novel; it was addictive and I understood everything I was reading. So I started using the principles in the book. This club had two chess teams: I played for the B team to start with. They were right into the chess proper, it was the right environment for me at the time. We’d go to Wolverhampton, Manchester, Blackpool or wherever to play in competitions. We’d stay in digs for three days and we’d play one game on a Friday, three on Saturday and two on Sunday.
I have had the odd upset in tournament when I’ve defied the odds and beaten a better player. I played one guy, he looked like a Sergeant Major. There was me in my T Shirt, jeans and bomber jacket. He looked at me as if I was some kind of subspecies. He was rated a bit higher than me and the game was going his way. I thought I’m not going to let this bastard beat me. I just dug in and dug in and the game gradually came in my direction. He fully expected to win. He just got up and walked off. I didn’t get a handshake or nothing. He looked disgusted with his performance. But I like to think it wasn’t his performance, it was mine. I didn’t let him play his sort of game and I refused to give in. I couldn’t bear watching him walk on with a big grin on his face, with his posh little voice and big red face. It brought the fighter out in me. I don’t like to give up. When we were living in an estate in the Elephant & Castle opposite the local community centre I asked if they did chess there. They said they didn’t but if I was willing to start it up they would give me backing. I had three chess sets and I bought a couple more and they had a couple. It was a deprived part of London, a lot of the kids were into drugs and street robbery and the centre basically said I wish you the best of luck. When I got there the TV had just been stolen by a couple of the kids so they didn’t rate my chances of getting this off the ground. I approached it from the angle of money because I thought that’s what rocks anyone’s boat. So I said to these kids, ‘I know what you do, it’s none of my business but when I was a kid I was doing the same but if you go to 437 of Channel 4 Ceefax you’ll see a load of darts competitions with cash prizes.” I said, “if you get good you get £50 and very good £2000 and you could do that with chess.” A couple of weeks later I played 12 of these lads at the same time. I wanted to beat all twelve. There were some who could play chess already and some that were quite good though they had no chess training, just natural ability. I wanted them to go home thinking, ‘How did he do that? How
could he beat us all at once?’ I wanted to get them curious and it seemed to work because I started to get adults coming. You know, older brothers of the kids. Within a month or so, thirty odd people turned up and I didn’t have enough boards. People had to stand and wait for their turn to play. So I started doing two days plus we did get few extra boards. My uncle used to go in a pub and bring up the subject of chess and someone would always fall for it and start bragging about being the champion of C Wing in Strangeways or some such. Then he’d manipulate the conversation by saying “My nephew plays a bit,” and then he’d suggest a challenge for money, say £50. Then he’d make money on side bets with other people. I was working in security at the time, so I’d get a call from him and I’d lock the yard up leaving the alsatian in charge and go down to the pub. There’d be people gathered round, the chess board set up, you’d think we were playing for thousands. So we’d play the game, I’d win, get my £50 and go back to work. It was pretty cool, he’d make his money, I’d make my money. I still retain the basic principles of chess, there’s certain moves you just don’t do, there’s situations you just don’t get yourself in. That’s engrained in my brain. So in a social game I tend to win. Within the first half dozen moves, I’ll notice my opponent has made a move which you wouldn’t normally play. So that tells me their knowledge isn’t as deep as mine which gives me confidence and I expect to win the game. Like the knight for example, if you move a knight early in the game in front of the bishop it can move to 8 different squares. But sometimes I’ll see someone go the other way which cuts its manoeuvrability down to 4 squares which doesn’t make sense. I notice things like that. Sometimes I play not for material advantage, but for space, so that I control most of the board. They’re looking for this check mate thing and I’m looking at the bigger picture, more strategically. I’m thinking if I control the part of the board where his king is he won’t be able to defend himself . Playing chess you’re a bit like a hustler, manipulating the situation, like moving your queen across the board, knowing it’s going to be chased by all these pieces, gather them over there and then just sweep in, get the queen out quickly, all his pieces are stuck over there and he can’t get back to defend the part you’re really going to attack. It’s about out-thinking somebody. That’s what I like about chess, it’s you against that person. The chess board’s there and the situation’s there. You’re trying to out think them and they’re trying to out-think you. It’s not like poker and backgammon where there is an element of luck. It is just pure brain and is totally equal; well as equal as you can get. There are a lot of analogies to life in chess. It’s no accident that in Sweden and certain states of America chess is part of the school curriculum.
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I have chess heroes. There are a few I admire for different reasons, but if I had to pick out one it would be a Cuban guy called Capablanca. He was born in 1899 into peasant farming family. In the evenings his father used to play chess with one of his neighbours. So you’ve got Capablanca at the age of four watching his dad play. Even though he had won, when the neighbour had gone José (Capablanca’s first name) told his father that he’d made a mistake: he’d made a wrong knight move (an L-shaped move). His father went through the game and realised José was correct. From then on he started playing chess with his son. By the time his son was 7 he couldn’t beat him. By the time he was 12 José was Cuban champion. Capablanca went to Havana University, he studied several subjects; engineering, mathematics, algebra and all that. He was at university for 8 years and only played social games of chess whilst there. He left university when he was 20 years old. To show how good he was, a three hour algebra exam took him only 40 minutes with a pass rate of 98%. A year later he was chess world champion. He beat Lasker who had been champion for 27 years. Even though he had never read a chess book in his life he beat Lasker with ease. Lasker had an interesting way of winning. He did not play his own game but studied his opponent’s games especially the ones they lost. He then steered his opponent into awkward situations, forcing them into mistakes instead of playing his own game. Nine times out of ten they would. Capablanca, though, was on a different level with immense natural ability. He won in 1921 but in 1928 lost to the Russian bloke Alexander Alekhine. Capablanca relied on his natural ability and still had not read any text books but the Russians studied everything to the smallest degree. Alekhine knew every move Capablanca had ever made and thrashed him. 1n 1946 the three greatest chess players; Capablanca, Alekhine and Lasker all died. Isn’t that weird! It is chess guys like these that really fascinate me: people who show innate ability at such a young age. It makes me wonder, if I had taken it up seriously as a young kid ... There is another guy, Najdorf, a Hungarian, and he once played 45 games blindfolded simulateneously. What I mean by blindfolded is that his opponents were in different room. He can’t see any of the other chess sets. This is what happens; there is another person called a second who’ll say board one is making such a move. Then Najdorf would tell him what move to make. He played 45 people simultaneously. And he beat 39 of them drew against four and lost only two. I can play one game blindfold. On the way to tournaments in the car, we’d play the other blokes without a board, just for a laugh. It gets crazy after a bit. So, I can see how it can be done. It’s quite common for grandmasters to play 15-20 games blindfolded but 45 is quite a feat. I’m a very competitive person. I’m learning just as much now as when I was a teenager, I’m 56 and I’ve still got that inquisitiveness. I’m thinking of becoming a professional dart player now. Nothing daunts me. I’ve said to myself I’ll give myself three years to get better than I was before. I was in a tournament once at Teeside Leisure Centre and I beat Dennis Ovens and he’s making a living now as a dart player. Well that could be me. I’m pleased with my progress so far. In a year or so I’ll go into a pub in Cambridge where they play darts and I’ll go on the practice board and hope to get spotted. That’s usually the way it happens. You can be a world champion in your bedroom but it’s when you play with other people in the pub, that’s when it matters. If I can become a good dart player, there’s money out there. I’ll be like a prize fighter turning up in town with a set of darts.
ROBERT’S TOP TIPS FOR CHESS BEGINNERS: Develop all your pieces. In your first ten moves try not to touch the same piece twice. This will help you get your pieces out. The only time this rule doesn’t apply is if your opponent is attacking one of your pieces, obviously you’ve got to move that one to a safe square. Move your pieces to their best squares. There are certain squares where the pieces feel at home. Put them on the wrong squares, they can’t reach their full potential. Don’t underestimate your pawns, they’re very powerful if used intelligently. Remember a pawn up is enough to win the game. Pawns offer a protective structure that you can go in and out of, but your opponent can’t.
COMPETITION White to move and win in two moves.
First correct answer received at Willow Walk Hostel or texted to 07962 685220 will win a copy of ‘My System’ by Nimzowitsch.
ROBERT’S READING RECOMMENDATIONS My System by Aron Nimzowitsch
This is my favourite chess book. Terms such as blockade, pawn phalanx and pawn roller and many more were first used in this book. Nimzowitsch never became world champion. In my opinion it’s because he spent so much time on his chess writing. He is generally thought of as the best chess player never to have become champion.
Masters of The Chess Board by Richard Reti In this book you are taken through a number of games, starting with early games in the nineteenth century at a time when the game was much simpler. You are shown how ideas developed and were put into action. The games are shown in their entirety, move by move. Each move is discussed thoroughly, leaving you in no doubt as to why the move was made. Each game comes closer and closer to the modern day showing you how the game has evolved. It is a fascnating book which will make you a much more complete player.
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WILLOW WALKER Art & Poetry Oh, how the bitter wind does blow, through the rain and through the snow. It blows hard, for so long, it blows with all its might. Blowing in the day is bad enough, but it even blows at night. And if you chance to fly a kite, it blows away as if in spite, mine blew away to another town. But now it’s quite warm, for the wind’s died down.
The above I wrote when but a boy, when re-discovered it brought me joy. It was filed away for many a year and of all my poems, this one’s most dear. My childhood days, well grim they were, Nobody’s child, noone to care. A cutting wind and much rejection, exposed to storms without protection.
© Freeman Freebyrd all rights reserved
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T w o C u p s o f C o f f e e with Banjo Nick
ick Ward describes his ten years of homelessness and travelling as a mixture of trauma and inspiration. A journey of self discovery that took him, a young theatremaker working at the National Theatre, on the banks of the Thames, to deepest outback Australia.
From time to time I have found him working at the “art table” at Wintercomfort Day centre absorbed in creating his small but vibrant paintings which he shares, sells and gifts by making signed prints of the originals. Nick talks about them with genuine delight and curiosity. The paintings unfold, as he does in conversation, from an initial idea opened up to a process of chance, curiosity and exuberant experimentation.
Along the way he painstakingly taught himself to play the 5 string banjo (having played ukelele and guitar as a boy) as a means of feeding himself and rediscovering his love of Roots Music from the inside. Inspired by his beloved grandmother, he set out to dive into the spirit of Australia, eventually finding a teacher in an Aborigine tribal elder and painter who he now calls ‘The Old Man’.
We met at CB1 Café on Mill Rd, to record a conversation. Sitting outside in the bright spring sunshine, Nick was keen that this feature should be short and “sparkling”. I asked a few simple questions and his answers, like his paintings, took surprising and fascinating turns.
I first met Nick a year ago, living at 222, he was sitting in the garden of a pub on Victoria Rd writing a song and picking a tune on his banjo, eking out a cup of coffee whilst sneaking some warmth from the outdoor heater.
Nick sometimes tips the remains of his coffee onto his painting responding to what settles there as he moves the image forward So, in that spirit and with a conscious nod to one of his heroes the musician – poet - painter Bob Dylan, I have chosen some of the “grounds” he covered whilst we talked, eventually taking one more cup of coffee indoors, as the clouds drew in. Kirsten Lavers
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ou can’t travel through outback Australia as an experimental playwright because they’d put you on the barbecue. Whereas if you turn up as a country picker playing the banjo you get invited to the barbecue!. Big difference. You’re going from Aboriginal communities into redneck country and you have to be able to pick your way through both. Then you realise they love the same music and perhaps by the end of the evening, if you’re really clever about it you might end up singing the rednecks some kind of protest song. The Aboriginals are much more tolerant of country music, they love country music. It’s really funny, it’s so bizarre, that’s what really got me switched onto country music when I saw the Aboriginals getting off on it
hen you get anywhere close to the actual politics of Aboriginal life it becomes such a wall of obstacles, such an unattractive wall standing between you and what you hope might be a really enriching and spiritual experience. The most fascinating thing about Australia is its ancient teachings and they are still there if you really want to find them. In certain places that lore is still strong. It’s strongest where the invasive prerogatives went over the limit of being good value. So they tested atomic bombs there instead. That’s about as bad as it gets really for the British Government to have detonated bombs on Aboriginal country.
heatre is the mother of all arts. It is the umbrella under which every art form can not just exist but be given an intensified existence. That’s what theatre does, it intensifies every other artform. To become a master of the art of theatre you have to go off the beaten track. I’m still doing it. I’m just finding different ways of applying the arts of theatre.
he time has come where we have to protect one or two things that we in the west are rightly very proud of , because there aren’t very many. Habeas Corpus has been suspended. That’s the removal of the right to innocence until proven guilty. That is one of the proudest achievement of the west, just gone like that. Swamped with other crappy news. The American military chiefs plus Tony Blair drew parallels to Hitler when they first did ‘Shock and Awe’ in Iraq. They were proudly telling everyone this is the most effective invasion since Hitler. That’s how far it has gone that they could speak like that. How did we get so paralysed? These are treacherous times but I’m not hopeless because the moment you get like that you don’t do anything, you’ve got to believe that artistic activity is profoundly beneficial not just for yourself but for the planet too.
can talk more proudly about the art than I can about the plays or the songs right now because I’m genuinely surprised by them. I’m not that interested in one of my songs when I’ve written it. I’m interested in trying to do it well next time I sing it, but it’s not like I’m going to find new meanings there in the way that I do if I look through the art.
’m writing these little scenarios at the moment.. In a way I am painting theatre pictures with words. I send them to people, like Barack Obama, Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, Keith Richards, Denny Freeman and the surviving Beatles etc. And that sounds completely mad and perhaps we should mention that I am a mental health patient. I want to press the boundaries of delusion. I sometimes like that feeling but it can get you into hot water. Or it gets a bit airless and you can’t breathe in there and it’s not working. Or it might take you somewhere illogical, but you test its logic and that’s the way I work. I’ve always been in danger of being regarded as delusional.
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ou have to test things. It’s like a branch of a tree – if you’re going to climb the tree you’re going to want to test whether that branch is going to break off, and if it breaks off you might even fall down with it. As an artist, you test credibility. You might even dream up Harry Potter or something on a grand scale, like the Beatles did – just do these unmistakeable extraordinary things. Great balloons of achievement that float around and they’re there. Or you come up with a turkey!. That’s the risk you take and at least then you discover that and you don’t swing off the same branch again because it’ll still be there, or one very similar. So you say, no I quite like just leaning on this one but I’m not going to hang off it. Take burlesque, I’m not going to put my whole reputation on burlesque. It’s good for one night, burlesque but it’s not good in the morning when all you’ve got is drunken burlesque artists crashing out in your flat and they’re not earning any money. Seriously, there’s no future in it. But bring them on once a month.
his visual work was very intense, I was very concentrated on it to the point where it didn’t matter who or what was going on around me (at Wintercomfort). I was using that energy, I probably painted them with more focus than I would have done if I’d been at peace in a flat. Musicians who take the gig are the ones who get a focus about them, and if you’re having a conversation at the bar whilst they’re playing you start to realise that your conversation is not as interesting as listening. They’re the ones who get you.
think there should always be pictures that you don’t show, because there’s a place for that. There might be an erotic element there expressing insecurity, because you’re wondering something’s been bruised here and I want to prove myself. It’s a way of dealing with sexuality and saying I may have done some yoga but I haven’t transcended the desire realm or maybe I have but I still like to look at it or I know that it can be employed as part of the palette. Picasso never lost his desire, there’s such desire in his work and yet he’s coming at art from a really enlightened point of view. I think that visual artists can nail that one in a less complicated way than writers.
ots are an incredibly therapeutic way of applying colour to paper or canvas. I’m more of a cartographer than I am a landscape painter. I love mapping, I love mapping ideas and I love mapping forms. I’m interested in where things connect or they don’t or they transform into something else. On a visceral level I can see why that’s good. It’s also good for me because I enjoy repetitive actions they tend to keep my mind steadier, my perception more controlled.
f you’re in a slightly traumatised state that’s an ideal time, if you’re a practised artist to practise. It really helps to have a little bit of attention, even if it’s negative actually. I’m a very collaborative artist. My thing is about energy, I like bringing energies together. Nothing gives me more pleasure than having plenty of jamming in my life. I like it when there’s a “join in” feeling. Sing-a-longs?, I like.
hen The Old Man is painting he’s describing something which one way or another he’s had a sense of for thousands of years. With someone like that you’re in the presence of an artist working on a very, very extraordinary level. There’s no point where he can be interrupted, you might hold his hands and stop him and he’d stop for the time that he’s stopped and as soon as you let his hands go he’d start again. He could not be distracted and what he had to express was so much richer than the means by which he was expressing it.
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his one is called Remembrance Day. I stuck the poppy on and painted around it and then I saw the spider and bloodshed. But it just looks beautiful anyway. I was really pleased with that one. And it made a good gift, I gave it to my stepmother. Her first husband was a soldier and she was really taken with it so it enabled me to connect with her through a piece of my art which I’m not sure I could with a poem or a song about getting the troops out of Afghanistan.
This is for Harold Pinter. It’s reversible, you can turn it upside down. It’s either a fat guy looking out, a cheerful fat gnome like thing. Or, if you turn it round, it becomes like a warrior and for me that feels like Ireland. I was thinking about Harold Pinter and the whole Irish influence on playwriting. For me it’s Singh very strongly, a great folk poet. That’s a coffee one where the coffee has come out like a landscape so beautifully.
That’s pure tantric symbolism, the two connecting triangles. The yantra is a visual equivalent of a mantra. If it were kinetic it would become a mandala. I was just in the mood to keep dot painting.
Not For Sale (back cover image) I was particularly thinking of the Old Man. You don’t know whether you looking in or looking out. That’s his great abiltiy he’s always shifting perspective. I love that quality of perspective bending. It also looks like fruit, beautiful ripe fruit and a pathway and a trampoline as well. It’s a real tribute to him.
The first ever revival of Nick Ward’s breakthrough play “Apart From George’ set in the Fens and written on the No 38 Bus from Islington to the South Bank is being staged at the Finborough Theatre, June 14, 15, 21, 22, 28 & 29. Signed prints by Nick Ward can be purchased from CB1 Cafe, Mill Rd Cambridge
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WILLOW WALKER Art & Poetry Convulsive twists of ancient myths lead our peopled race forward blind religious battles, fought for an excuse changed our modern minds. Like a speck of dust in the ocean earth’s structure floats abliss triggered mortars, fire and life end in a sudden flash of mist. Murderous volunteers, dressed as holy people, can’t justify their right but still they try and still they fight, wrapped in satan’s dynamite. Terrorist roots, of drum and flute give no justified means for death. If all life were shelled like this angelic love would burst. They call him the Willow Walker he’s a real calm, smooth seasoned talker but he’s dangerous as a lion loose his tongue so smooth he could talk his handcuff loose Who needs a weapon like a knife or an axe when the sharpest tool in a man’s box is his tongue Sharp as a razor yet smooth as oil depends on the situation he finds himself in calm or turmoil He’ll befriend you, take all you have then he’ll end you, if you’re not careful just to mend you, he might even bend you
The hurt and the pain It never seems to go away Like a pack of wolves Waiting for the fires to die I try to close my mind But crazy fears know each and every room So I hang out now with the sadness Because somehow it seems to calm the madness But the side effects have hang ups Strung out I need your love But I don’t know love It hurts so much to ask what is love Just look at me I feel so ashamed I’ll do anything you want If you hold me in your arms And tell me how much you love me And care for me and need me And you’ll never let me go I’ll be your child If you tell me who I am But the reality is fierce Mr Twisted Man Love’s just another spear to pierce me Another fear to eat me The strangers in my mind need far more than your love So deep are the wounds of not knowing who I am The fire’s burning very low now The hurt and the pain never really seems to go away by Paul Knight dedicated to Ian Jordan
to be continued ... by Gerry Thompson
by Robert Waugh
Mr Twisted Man
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Detox, or not to Detox? by Emma Hyde
ne of the hardest things I ever had to admit to myself was the fact that I was an alcoholic. I can’t quite remember when or why I started drinking to excess. In the beginning, I was a social drinker, the odd drink at the pub with friends or family, special occasions or events; in fact I was regularly the ‘nominated’ driver. During a particularly torrid year, I began to use alcohol more and more, either for confidence, or solace. The world seemed far easier to cope with, after three or four bottles of whatever alcoholic drink I could get my hands on.
The way I saw it there was only ever two options. The first carrying on drinking myself into an early grave, and in the process losing everyone and everything that ever meant anything to me; or the seond getting myself some serious help. I chose the latter. I started by speaking to my key-worker, who was really supportive and pleased that I had finally reached the
decision to stop drinking completely. Together we contacted the ‘Bridge’ group and made the initial first step. The first appointment, whilst incredibly scary, proved very productive, and having discussed all the options available to me, I decided that the best way forward was to complete my detox as a residential patient in Fulbourn Hospital. I discussed my plans with various friends and family, which was met with a mixed bag of reactions. Most were incredibly supportive, some were very sceptical, and a few just laughed, but by this time I was adamant this was going to work and no amount of negativity was going to stop me. The first morning I arrived with mixed emotions and bad withdrawal. That and the fact that as soon as I arrived I was met by a group of patients with mental health problems, proved very daunting. My initial thought was to turn round and run straight out (via an off-licence!), but I thought that if I don’t do it now I never will. The nurses and doctors were great and after I’d had a chat with the consultant, I was given the first dose of my medication and shown to my room, feeling lonely scared and physically sick, I thought the best option would be to try and sleep. I was checked on hourly and woken for medication when it was due. The first few days was a combination of taking lots of medication and sleeping. Food was not an option as I couldn’t hold anything down, but by the third day,
which ironically was News Year’s Eve, I started to feel a lot better. I spent New Year’s Eve night, sober, making new friends and looking forward not only to a brand new year, but also a brand new start Once I had my routine in hospital, time went incredibly quickly, and before I knew it, it was time for me to go home. That probably scared me more than anything. In hospital I had all the help and support I needed 24 hours a day, so in theory I was going from everything to nothing. Many thoughts went through my head, the most obvious being would I be strong enough to cope on my own, the majority of my friends outside my safe hospital environment are drinkers, would I have the will power to resist? Nearly four months on and I still haven’t had a drink. Don’t get me wrong: I have been very tempted, but the thought of going back to my old lifestyle isn’t an option for me anymore. I feel and look so much better, better than I have done in years, I don’t have to worry about what I said or did the night before, I don’t have to wake up every morning ill and wondering where I’m going to get my first drink from. Instead, my days are taken up with worthwhile projects that are close to my heart. Goals and ambitions that are no longer pipe dreams but now work in progress! Would I recommend a voluntary detox? A million times yes! It’s hard work but hey, as someone once said “you’re worth it.”
ob* is a travelling man, he is a big man, but softly spoken, with a philosophical attitude towards street life. Suzi is a very pretty little labrador-whippet cross, who is fiercely protective of her master, but well-trained and good with people. Bernard is one of Suzi’s puppies. He is a handsome dog with a saluki father, he stands tall and has lovely silvery markings. Bob’s relationship with his dogs is one of inseparability. They are a family, part of one another. Like all families they offer comfort, solace and companionship to one another in the hard, sometimes friendless street world.
I have been noticing changes in the Cambridgeshire Constabulary’s policy towards dealing with the often problematic street culture in Cambridge. A new branch of law enforcement policy has begun, under Section 30 of the AntiSocial Behaviour Act. This gives police constables the power to remove individuals or a whole group of people from the town centre or any area named as Section 30 areas for a portion of time from 24 hours to 10 days. This is being employed very liberally recently, sometimes without just cause, with drinkers and gatherings of street people. It is essentially the power to
discriminate between members of the public and block certain individuals from society. It is a violation of human rights. No one is equal here. I can understand the concerns raised by street life culture. I am aware that there is occasional violence and offensive behaviour often under the influence of alcohol. But it must be pointed out that in the hands of some officers this power is being abused. On the 1st of February, Bob, his girlfriend and their friend, Tom with Bob’s dogs were on Petty Cury enjoying a Saturday night out together, having a drink and chatting just like many of the other Saturday night revellers out and about that night in the town centre. A bottle was smashed deliberately quite close to the dogs by a member of the public. Tom and Bob were alarmed by the danger posed to the dogs and words were exchanged. The person who had smashed the bottle went to kick Bernard, the younger dog, and he instinctively bit the man’s leg. Things then escalated, with abusive language being exchanged. Tom told me “I asked him to pick up the broken glass and he went to push me, so I chased him away. I never laid a finger on him.”
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A few days later Bob and Tom were arrested, but before this Bob’s dogs were removed by the police whilst he was at the DSS sorting out his benefits claim. The final court date is pending and Bob has been informed that he is unlikely to have his dogs returned to him, they have BOTH been confiscated under the Dangerous Dog’s Act and Bob and Tom face several charges. Bob says “I feel like they have ripped out my heart – they have taken away the only things that were mine, not someone else’s – mine.”
Opinions expressed in this column are personal and do not necessarily represent the views of the Willow Walker magazine.
I feel that this is a clear injustice and is just one example of the abuse of Section 30 powers to tackle street life. Before the incident, the officer involved had been heard saying that Bob and Tom were Number 1 on his list of people he wanted out of town. This incident, instigated by a violent member of the public was just the excuse he needed. The man who started it all is pressing charges and has had no comeback for his own violent and abusive behaviour. I appeal for a change of attitude higher up in the Constabulary. Many street people suffer from past trauma, addiction and mental illness. The too frequent use of Section 30 powers in Cambridge is exacerbating the problem, it is no kind of solution. *Names have been changed. The Willow Walker offered Cambridgeshire Police the opportunity to respond, this is their reply printed in full.
Cambridgeshire Police are not in a position to comment about situations which are subject to criminal proceedings. In terms of Section 30 powers, the alleged abuse of such, police are held to account for their actions and are fully trained in the use of their powers and human rights legislation. Anyone who feels they have had their rights abused is entitled to make a complaint about the matter and this will be dealt with accordingly. It is important to realise that Section 30 is not the only power which is used to control anti-social behaviour within the city, Section 27 Violent Crime Reduction Act is also used, more regularly too in order to deal with drink related disorder or the potential thereof. More guidance regarding this legislation will be released in due course, but please remember that this legislation is only ever used in order to protect members of the public. Police always have to ensure that their actions are proportionate, lawful, appropriate to the circumstance for which they are being applied and necessary. I also have the remit of overseeing cases involving dog related legislation - some general guidance that may assist people in staying away from potential prosecution is to retain control of your dog in a public place at all times, including keeping it on a lead and keeping hold of that lead. It is all too easy for a dog to stray, this may result in seizure of the dog and a subsequent fee for release. Any dog which is dangerously out of control in a public place may cause the owner to suffer a prosecution, which I am sure you would rather avoid as would the police. It is important to note that it is not necessary for the dog to cause injury to a person, the simple ‘causing fear of injury’ may be enough to instigate proceedings.” Shane Fasey, Sergeant 372, Neighbourhood Policing Team.
COOK TOGETHER & EAT TOGETHER @ The Self-Build 222 Victoria Rd alternate saturdays open to residents of 222, Willow Walk, Shared Houses and TST ask Shelia @ 222 for details
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S A N C T U A R Y T O W E R S with Emma Fenelon
Cambridge Link-Up and Wintercomfort has commissioned ceramic artist, Emma Fenelon to work with the street community on creating three five to six feet towers which will honour the lives of homeless people in Cambridge. The Towers will be sited at the Memorial Garden at 222 Victoria Rd, outside Wintercomfort Day Centre and at a mystery city centre location - to be confirmed! Emma’s work can also be seen outside Great St Mary’s Church.
My work comes from my drive to explore, to pick at what things mean. I am curious about the patterns and layers of life; what they obscure, and what they reveal. My early years were in themselves layered, particularly with travel, as we were often posted abroad with my father. We moved between our base in a typical 1950’s “London overspill” Essex town and Warsaw where the streets were gas lit and we saw dancing bears, to sunny Italy with so many ruins to explore, while pausing to take holidays in my grandmother’s damp and crumbing scottish castle with stables full of horse drawn carriages standing abandoned where they were last used. So my work is based on layers of places and stories. My tall tower sculptures are made in part from rooms, doorways, corridors, staircases, wardrobes and become part fossil, part ruin, part half forgotten place and part memory. For sometime I have been wanting to work with people for whom housing and place are also key, who know what it is like to move a lot, or to not have a base and who have layers of memories I could involve in this work; exploring what sanctuary means. I am very excited about this project and am hoping people will want to join me in this exploration. I work by rolling out flat sheets of clay, and then press things into the surface to make an interesting patterns or marks. I also build parts of windows, doors, sections of paving slab floors, hallways. I am hoping that the Sanctuary Towers will include architectural features relevant to Cambridge’s homeless community. Sometimes I leave the clay bare, clothed simply in its natural soft calcium bloom, other times I add colour and other nuances by combining coloured glazes made from a variety of minerals, from city soot to human ash. I will be running workshops where anyone can make their own contributions to the towers, things to become part of the finished piece, or to go in, on and around it. From small people that could populate the rooms to fragments of poetry written on the walls, or on tiles surrounding the sculpture. I am looking forward to working with you on your ideas. The Sanctuary Towers Project Weekly at 222 and Wintercomfort from April - Mid June. look out for the posters or contact: Kirsten on 07962 685220 for details on how you can get involved.
BRIAN MASKELL I first met Brian 13 years ago when I was camping out near Saffron Walden. He spotted that I was a ‘Man of the Road’ and offered me a place to stay in his caravan. He said it would be fine as long as I got up before 9am, I like my lie-ins, so I declined his kind offer. He was very concerned that I was all right and insisted on visiting my camp to make sure. From then on he enjoyed visiting me wherever I’d set up a base because I can make proper benders with a good oil can fire in the middle. Brian was a happy go lucky sort of chap, he’d always help you out if he could and if he borrowed money he’d always pay it back. We had our times together, we’ve been up the wall, across the ceiling and down the other side, many a time. I remember when my dog, Moogie, died. Brian went with me to my old camp near Vicar’s Brook. He helped me build a fire and we cremated him there. It started raining, pouring down, I stayed by the fire and Brian waited for me in the car. He was the last person I’d expect to die the way he did, it’s such a waste. I’ve said some Buddhist prayers from the Tibetan Book of the Dead for Brian – an invocation to all the Buddhas and Bohdi Satbas to come to the aid of the recently deceased. He was a good friend to me over the years.
Colin Field (Bunter)
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go to Fopp, the music shop, and he would have a great time and he’d always buy a CD for himself. After six weeks Chris started drinking again and when I asked him why he said that he was lonely. When Chris’s dog Puk died Chris paid for her to be cremated and Chris and I and some of his friends took her ashes and scattered them over some buttercups on Midsummer Common.
I was Chris’s support worker for nearly five years. I have many happy memories of Chris even though he could often be quite challenging. Three years ago Chris nearly died. He was in the Intensive Care Unit for six weeks and the nurse who was looking after him told me that he didn’t give much for his chances. But Chris was a fighter and he did survive for another three years. When Chris came out of hospital he didn’t drink for six weeks. Often we would go into town to sit on the market and have a cup of coffee. Then we would look round the market, he especially liked the second-hand book stall as he liked to read the history about cities. Then we’d
I used to go with Chris to the hospital for him to have checks on his liver, and he tended to be really grumpy, I would always buy him a cappuccino. Once or twice he actually walked out of the clinic because he said that he wouldn’t wait and I’d go after him and have a bit of a go at him and he would come back and apologise. I once went to the Drug Depemdency Unit with him to see his keyworker and he got angry with me and told me to “F off” and that he didn’t want to go back to the hostel with me, so I went back to the hostel on my own. Sometime later Chris turned up and said that he had waited for me and he had been looking for me. That is what he was like he often didn’t mean what he said to you, and would always apologise if he thought I was offended. Chris really loved Willow Walk and he looked on the hostel as his home. While he was in hospital he would often say to me “please take me home” he said that he without Lea when he passed away. I felt lost and lonely, but I know he’s always with me in my heart and in my mind. I will always treasure every second I spent with him.
For Lea The minute we talked we fell in love But now I’m here and you’re up above We may have argued We may have cried But you were always by my side
LEA TURNER Lea and I always had such a laugh together. We were best friends. He was such a caring person. He was a big friendly giant, one of those guys that everyone got on with. As time went by Lea and I became an item and it was one of the best times of my life! I felt so lucky to have a boyfriend like him and never wanted to let him go. I have so many good memories of Lea and I’m sure his close friends have many as well. It was quite a struggle to live life
Though time has passed you are not forgot Your smile and your presence will be missed a lot You may not be here to heal the pain But I know one day I’ll see you again.
missed Willow Walk. At Christmas, Chris bought me a small Peace Lily plant as he knew that I like plants. I really hope that Chris is now at peace.
IAN JORDAN On February the fourteenth, When Valentines Cards we send Spare a thought for Ian, That’s the day we lost a friend A master to Loopy Lou A friend to you and me A genuine nice guy That was plain to see. So say a prayer for Ian, And send him all our love He’s staying with the Lord now Up in heaven above. He’ll always be remembered And never be forgot In our list of Good Guys He’s right there at the top.
Mark, Rachel & Snoop I knew Ian very well for over 25 years. Every second spent with him was ALWAYS an experience. I just want to say you will live 4ever in my heart, dear friend. Hurry on sundown. The Albion will miss you as will I. Safe journey mate.
Andy (Donkey) Robson P.S See you down there.
Personal tributes can now be added to the Cambridge Link-Up Online Memorial Garden at:
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