The Songwriter Chapter 5 part 3
The Songwriter – A Novel by Paul McCann
Chapter Five -EMOTIONS OF A CITY
She had a vicious look on her face and almost spat as she spoke .
“ Look at my beautiful sunset its hanging off the wall .”
“ I had to stretch out the paste as it had to go a long way. ”
This really made me see red . The paste and the paper was still drying and if she had given me more money to get the job done in the first place I would have had more than enough paste to put her sunset up without some loose ends here and there .
The more I stood there the worse it got . She launched into another verbal assault on my handiwork,
“ This is horrible . I am really very upset about how my bedroom looks . I can’t stay in here any longer . I have to have some breakfast and get to work ”
I hadn’t slept all night and at this point in time I was ready to explode with rage . I was very hurt by Patricia’s attitude and her criticism of my efforts left me deflated and distracted .Instead of having it out with her in the presence of her two kids I left her flat and returned back to Doris’s place . Doris could see I was upset when I arrived . After I told her what had happened at her daughters she nodded as if this kind of thing was a regular occurrence .Not only had Doris understood and believed every thing I had told her but she turned and handed me ten pounds straight from her purse . She told me not to worry and to get some sleep .. I slept most of the day and was awoke for dinner by Doris .I felt at ease and knew I was welcome at their dinner table .
With the wanderlust itch at my feet and my cash flow slowly but surely eroding away I needed space to write the things racing through my head . It was difficult to find inspiration at Doris’s so I needed an escape hatch .
Most mornings it was a very early rise to make it down into Hackney where I would stand in a long job club queue hoping for a days work . Employers would ring up the Department before seven o’clock each morning with casual work and the jobs went to those first in the queue . I was lucky to have secured some work in a small clothing warehouse in Dalston Lane where I packed and priced various garments for the retail stores .
When the position there closed , I found myself walking the streets of London in the hope of finding some steady work .
Exhausted by my efforts to find employment I eventually stumbled in to the Department of Health and Social Security one cold October morning . In a desperate attempt to receive financial assistance from the Government I explained my situation to the Departments officer at the front reception . He looked at me with a distant pity on his face and seemed to indicate I was not eligible for any assistance .
I persevered until he gave in and told me to take a seat That moment at a window further along a very angry young lad began to scream and hurl abuse at the civil servant who worked for the Department . I made my way past him just as he started to throw punches at the window .
Maybe it was the way I looked at him I don’t know but he turned his anger on me . I continued to walk past him , as he slurred out ,
“ Ah that’s it old man , just mind your own business ”
Like a ton of bricks I thought , am I really an old man . No one had ever before called me that . I was a little shocked by this comment and wondered if all the knocking about I had during the last few years was taking its toll on me .
Deep in a rut of
reality I surrendered to a vacant plastic chair . Around me I found a crowd of people waiting . There where six rows of green plastic chairs filled with people who looked just like I did .
Very tired and beyond frustration we all sat . An hour , then another , then another passed . No one spoke . A fella in my row with a definite weather beaten look decided to move on .
Then at last there was some action , the lady at the reception called the names of at least half of the people in the room . These people seemed to be issued with some kind of payment . The fella with the weather beaten look who had previously left returned to his seat . He held a cup of coffee and a hot chip . Now I can’t say if he had heard my stomach that grumbled and rumbled with hunger , but when he offered me share of his chips I thanked God in heaven for his kindness . He spoke to me in a thick Scottish accent and I was educated by a man who had obviously lived rough in London for many years . He told me every one of his six different names and addresses and how he managed to receive six different giro cheques every week . He also told me where I could find some food and shelter if I needed to find it .
I had spent all day waiting at the Social Security Office without anything to show for it all at the end of the day . However I did have a short list of places where I could find emergency accommodation thanks to my friend the Scottish traveller .
As the days went on I felt I had worn out my welcome with Doris and her family and even though she would have continued to provide accommodation for me in her flat I decided it was time for me to move on . It was really nice to have had time to praise and worship with the Doris and the community at the Bible Way Church but for Gods grace there I had to be leaving them and with hope in my heart I moved into my new surroundings at St Pauls International Youth Hostel . I slept in the bottom bunk in dormitory 66 all the inmates if you like where from all over the world . After a long day busking in Central London it was refreshing to speak with some of the friendly Australians and Canadians at the Carters Lane Youth Hostel . I was refreshed by the company of kind people and almost felt human again to the point were I hoped a laugh might squeeze out and surprise my broken heart . I sat with the other travellers and listened to their wonderful stories and wished I could make up some for to tell them but instead we played chess and shared our moments in silence .
I watched as my pawns feel victim to Queen and Bishop . I had to strike back with my Castle . It was at this point when the game took on new meaning .
I was lost as the challenger spoke chess talk . I took his meaning as a clever chess strategy and told myself not to be distracted . I found the American travellers very genuine and generous with their time and although faces changed most every day there where a few people like myself who remained .The world was spinning fast and I really didn’t realise it until the day it suddenly stopped for me . One day after I returned from busking and to my shock I found all of my belongings had been taken from underneath my bed . All I had was gone . Money , clothes , personal documents , passport , in fact all I had was gone except for what I stood up in and my guitar .. Completely shattered and as alone as I had ever felt in my entire life . I wondered how I would ever get out of this situation . I asked myself the question is there anything good I can take from this . Then it came to me that God had been taking care of my work . With a great sigh of relief I was glad to have left all my songs in a bag at the Good Shepherd Mission Maybe it was then I realised that a blessing was on my work . It wasn’t the first time may I add that my songs and literary works where protected from harm so I knew there was something special about what I was doing . I tried to imagine that everything that goes wrong is for a purpose .
I tried to that the purpose I had was right and hoped somehow to right all the wrongs with my songs .
I dreamt that one day I would be famous and that my
Songs would be popular .
I made my way to Bishopsgate and reported the theft to the police . There was nothing they could do except make the report and file it away .
I asked them if they could contact my bank in Australia and inform them about my situation but they answered ,
“ Why don’t you tell your bank in London ”
“ I don’t have a bank in London ”. I told them ,
“ Sorry , its a tough world out there ” came the reply .
I walked from the police station in the snow with no money and no place to go . The thought of Linda crossed through my mind , as did Doris , but I had burned those bridges behind me .
When the Salvation Army at Blackfriars found me I was in a bad way I had been sleeping rough and was in need of food and rest .
After some weeks I picked up and was walking around again on my feet . I was informed by the Captain of the Salvation that a friend of mine in Australia by the name of Joe Zaiter had contacted people in Australia and informed them that I had gone missing .
For many people they would have written off my disappearance in London as another regular event but no . I had angels on my side .
During the time I had left Australia I had been sending postcards and correspondence from all of the places where I was .
When my good friend Joe had not received and word from me for a while he did a very noble thing and informed officers of the Salvation Army in Granville back in Sydney that I had gone missing .
Then in turn chased up their people in London who went on a search for me . It really is a miracle they found me , but they did .
Because I was without money and clothes , the Salvation Army helped me to obtain income support from the Department of Health and Social Security . At last now there was money to pay my keep at Blackfriars . I attended their prayer time each morning with the Salvos and found new places to visit during the day in London .
First I found myself walking to the gates of Buckingham Palace .
I tried to ask the guards if I could get in and talk to the Queen but they never answered me . I asked how I could get a job in the palace but they refused to speak . Eventually I was told to move . After a while I discovered Hyde park and the hecklers and began to speak my mind to the people of the way . After all there were more than a few who had to loose it before they could find it and I was one of those people . Now the way I found was like on this narrow path
Of life where faith is the only companion you have .
My way became a walk in faith every day .
I was known as the Poet prince and pauper of Piccadilly . I met and spoke with African Kings and made friends in the wild West End . There are so many things buzzing on the West End every second of the day . London has many doors and behind those doors are people in shells like prisoners of fate awaiting release . There are so many things just outside the door . From drugs to drink . From poverty to hunger from greed to comfort . Where the hopeless lay begging for food ,good men and women . with their hands outstretched .
Where the rich go eating and filling themselves so does their shame and the Thames turns everyday greener and deeper until the satisfaction of its hunger is consumed by its shame .
When you are in the lions mouth you can always find a compassionate heart . On the other side of the coin you’ll find the breath of the lions roar from Lambeth to the Tower bridge door was cold and without pity . London is a big city and its takes a brave man to try and tame the lion on its streets . Everyone is looking for something and somebody I was looking for a break with my work . I sang all day without any pay to the passers by . Abuse and scorn from morn to night taught you to fight even harder to make it work out right .
I wandered through Waterloo like a man on a mission with inspiration flowing in a storm of new song writing that had returned with a vengeance .
All I needed was a place to sit and write down on paper how I felt . I found that around London there were lots of empty houses and flats. There were run down empty buildings and although some of these provided a perfect place to write I wished for something a little more cleaner and so I went walking from street to street everyday . Not to far away from the South Bank of the Thames I came across places of intrigue . My feet took me to the inner secrets of sidewalks in life where I spend hours everyday in the Poetic Library at the top of the Festival Hall . It was for me my sanctuary . My escape hatch from the world .
I sat most every day inside the Poetry Library and became very prolific with my literary works during this time . Now I really had a place where I felt at home . With my collection of songs now growing I realised how much suffering is a part of all that . Anything worth its salt is suffered for .
I thought about Tin Pan Alley days and took some strength from that and started walking into publishers off the street . I even went into a stockbrokers in Sun Street and asked if they could support me financially with my songs . I was so surprised when I was brought into the managers large office .For a long discussion . He almost came to the party but when he asked for my contact details I was unable to give him any because of my current homeless situation .
Someday’s I walked into pubs and if there was piano there I would sit myself down and start to play some of my songs . Sometimes it worked out and the crowd enjoyed it . Other times the patrons were too drunk even too notice . Now and then I was send packing by the publican .
I shared my gift every chance I had . All my songs were living moments . They were personal and powerful . I wanted them to be heard and I needed them to be appreciated .London is a hard place to be when you’re alone and trying to get a break . I continued to busk and make music everyday but as far as getting that break nothing was really happening .
End Of Chapter 5
Link To Chapter 6