Well. 2016. It’s been extraordinary. An annus-extremely-fucking-horribilis. The death of David Bowie; the triumph of a referendum campaign waged against human rights and brown people; the imminent presidency of a bloke that’d be dismissed as ridiculous by a load of posh lads standing to lose their deposit in a Chelsea by-election; the PR offensive of the Alt. Reich; and Liverpool FC scoring a 95th minute derby winner. Fuck, and indeed, sake.
On a personal level it’s been a right shithosue of year for me too. A year of fretful hyperventilating, concussions, financial ruination, and work ventures going arse about tit. To add to all this my landlord, having gone into administration, was press-ganged into selling my apartment complex to a shiny suited free-market minion whose intention was to purge all us unsightly tenants in order that it might be turned into a wipe-clean yuppie fuckpen. Splendid.
At the end of November me and my fellow tenants were given our marching orders. I’d been living there six years and was completely devastated, but others had been there as long as twenty. Only having two months notice, and the aforementioned work cock-up already having left me nearly four grand out of pocket, I was left with no choice but to jizz my remaining dosh on putting my possession in a storage unit in central Manchester, thereby ensuring that my things are a) inaccessible, and b) still have a shorter commute than me.
So, Christmas 2016, for the first time in my life I am, to all intents and purposes, homeless and precariously hovering just above “skint”, living out of a suitcase without so much as a comfort blanket of my books, clothes, photos and miscellaneous “stuff”. It’s so grim. At least once I day I feel the need to escape to my room – or, to be more specific – a fleetingly empty room of someone else’s, and sob off the small supply of make-up I’ve managed to salvage. I haven’t even had the motivation to hate write about any of this, which is entirely out of character for me considering my career is largely based on creative cry-arsing.
I normally LOVE christmas, I love sticking twinkly lights everywhere, present buying, and stir-up-sundaying like the tweedy motherfucker I am. Not this year. I have nowhere to do any of that and very little dosh to finance it. Consequently I’ve sort of ignored Christmas. That childlike tingle of festive joy, usually simmering just beneath the surface is nowhere to be found. I’ve been ‘getting on with things’ a lot, mind you. And staring into the middle distance. So at least I’m keeping busy.
If there’s one thing to be said for all of this shite though, it’s that my situation is far from the worst out there. Technically I’m “homeless” but my friends and partner have been amazing. I’ll never be short of a warm bed to kip in.;I’ve struggled massively due to a project I was working for not being refinanced, but I’m not without work or “prospects”; I may not have my “things” but I do, at least have things to lose. In spite of all this I’ve been having on by a thread; hanging on largely because there were people to prop me up.
If I take one thing from the godawful shitshower of 2016 it’ll be this; the difference between anyone of us and someone sleeping rough in a doorway is a phone full of people we can call and rely on.We have all, to a greater or lesser extend, been planted on our arses whether it’s by illness, misfortune, or just having sort of lost our way. If you’re reading this then the chances are when this happened to you’re able to access a sympathetic ear or someone to lend you twenty quid. You probably also had a reservoir or fortitude, which you’ve able to dip into because it’s been nurtured in you, or at least not been periodically drained. From my years working in inner city mental health I know that not everyone is so fortunate. I’ve seen remarkable people simply unable to go on; people for whom, to quote Tony Hancock’s final missive, “too many things have happened too many times”.
This is not a “positive thinking” rallying cry. Not by any means. I’m still going to lip-wobble my way through a Christmas largely devoid of colour, but it is all set against a backdrop of hope for the new year. By Christmas 2017 I fully expect to be sufficiently solvent to whack a decent amount of cash over to the St. Martin in the Fields Christmas appeal, as a gesture of gratitude, humility and in the hope that it’ll provide a lifeline for someone who hasn’t been as lucky as me. Until then I’ll just keep putting one foot in front of the other.
So, off you fuck, 2016! It’s been … quite something, and that something is “unutterably shite”. But, life trudges on and so must I, and, as I will continue to remind myself, it could have been so, so much worse.