Down and Out in Birmingham and London

to those of you not familiar with George Orwells first published piece on vagrancy and menial labour I urge you to read it now. Written in the thirties though as true today as it was then regarding the phenomena of homelessness and earning a ‘living wage’.  Myself having been educated in the leafy Essex suburbs, a privileged life in comparison to some, rarely witnessed homelessness nor the act of begging unless I took a trip to the theatre in town. 

How this writer came to identify with such a prolific one is a sad sad tale of modern events. 

Remember theBirmingham Franchisee? Well he of course offered me a position in his store. Tired and overworked in London I decided to take advantage of something new and agreed to transfer to England’s second largest city with the promise of somewhere fabulous to live and a fresh new team to manage I set off excited. 

Immediately things were not as they seemed as TheFranchisee’s wife had not found me anywhere to live and I was forced into their home for several days before they found somewhere else to ‘put’ me.  Where they ‘put’ me or should I say ‘dumped’ me was Wolverhampton, some diseased and dowdy district of Wolverhampton. 

I felt ill on entering the building. My roommates, two poor and unfortunate souls on the fringes of society, eyed me suspiciously whilst I eyed the floor not wanting to make eye contact. I topped the stairs finding my room, a bare whitewalled box with neither bed nor lightbulb. My bags were shoved into a corner of the room and a dirty stained duvet protruded  from a box in the corner. I look up at the lack of lightbulb then down to the floor and realised I had been left here to spend the night. 

Money is a precarious thing and is easily lost. After a few days I had depleted my bank account attempting to move, realising I could not, then furnishing my white box in the slum. The next morning having befriended the unemployed couple in the room next door I accepted a cup of tea when my phone rang, it was the Francisee’s wife, my hours had been cut down. I now could not afford to live. 

Homeless and jobless in a strange city is enough to reduce anyone to tears, anxiety and the depths of depression but not me and not this time! I pulled all the strength I had to return to London and onto my sisters sofa. 

I now understand a new level of poverty as I have nothing left. I will not make the end of the month. I have not enough money to re-house me nor get me to work until the next month but I am finally free of the company who care nothing for me, who insult me and where my loyalty and dedication to them stand for nothing.

Like a vagrant I care not. I am now on the fringes of society. I am not down and out. I am happy and on the up. For the first time my anxiety is low in adverse times and I have a new realised strength, focus and determination. I am a changed woman.


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