15 Jun Paul
PAUL: 8th November 2015, London
I was walking down Canonbury Hill when I past an old guy sitting on a bench. I didn’t know if he was pissed or not, or if indeed he was sleeping rough. He was clean and had an aluminium walking stick resting across his lap. I past him by but had thought to myself how photogenic he is, particularly in the streetlight, the sodium orange glow.
After passing I walked in for another 30 yards during which time I debated with myself as to whether it was impolite or interfering to take his picture. I stopped and checked my camera, turned, walked back and introduced myself. I explained the idea of People I meet at the Weekend. He was happy to have his picture taken. He told me his story and I sat and listened for about an hour.
He didn’t know or couldn’t remember how old he was and I didn’t press him – not important certainly not as important as the day his wife died: 5th Feb 2000. She died of cancer.
She never told him about the cancer.
He met her around the corner from where we sat. He had known her for a while before they got together and then ”had a couple of nights in Brighton and that was it. As pure and simple as that! “ There was never any question as to whether they should be together. He said that, one Christmas she went away for a while. He had missed her and was excited to meet her off the train. She had been staying in Derby. When he first saw her as she walked down the platform towards him, “she looked terrible. She looked like a pregnant skeleton”
She died soon after; he left the house and started walking. He has been sleeping rough ever since.
I liked him. He was gentle, kind and very, very sad; very sensitive. It didn’t surprise me that he liked to act. He told me, when asked about his skills, that he was a painter. I don’t know to this time whether this is of pictures or of walls.
There was a lot of sadness held in. I talked about the celebration of memories. He seems to feel nothing but pain.
He offered me a beer – I declined.