Tuesday 3rd November
It took me several hours to actually leave my house. I had planned to arrive at the squat at around 2pm but there was always one last cup of tea and a spliff to be had with one of my housemates, Jake. He was also leaving, for his homeland, Australia, but not before a two week bender in Rome with his Italian chums; squeezing the very last out of Europe before the long haul. Jake can be best described as a funny little thing. It just so happened that on this, our last day together, the Birthday present he had ordered for me months ago finally arrived in the post. It turned out to be a burgundy skull cap embroidered in gold lettering with ‘To My Favourite Jew, Craig’; an interesting gift choice, particularly given that I have no Jewish heritage nor even the slightest connection with Judaism other than - as it must seem through his young, dumb, eyes – a beard and a slightly larger nose than most. The reason it had taken so long to arrive was because he’d ordered it especially from Israel.
The house in Turnpike Lane had something of a legendary status amongst those that knew it and everyone that had lived there, a rag tag band of brothers connected by bricks and mortar, was proud to call it home. Although the area, and indeed, the house itself, is nothing special, pretty shabby all round in fact, it had truly been a place to call our own. So it was something of a wrench to actually leave, with everything that I’d need for the coming months in a few flimsy bags; but you’ll never get to the next chapter if you don’t turn the page - and the page I was currently on was pretty well thumbed - so it was time to read on.
When I arrived in Leicester Square the pop culture proles were worshipping at the church of Hollyweird and had turned out in their droves for the premiere of A Christmas Carol; Dickens would be fucking livid. As was I when a shiny people carrier containing two young men - who together, almost as one entity, represent everything which is rotten with celebrity culture - nearly ran me down as I was crossing the street. When we released al-Meghari to the Libyans, it took Gordon Brown a full three weeks to say nothing about the situation, but even he, our inglorious leader, has been induced to condemn Jon and Edward as the feckless morons they so clearly are.
After this brief brush with fame, it was another encounter with the squat door, where I was asked whether I was here to see the play or the squat; both, actually, I’m moving in. The play was an exploration of hedonism that posed uncomfortable questions for everyone watching, not least because of the proximity to the actors performing; their stage was two rooms and a corridor on the third floor. The difference between this and the railings and guards protecting the performers outside from their loyal fanatics was tangible to everyone in the room.
Two groups of friends had been to both see the play and offer support and I showed them all around, showed off the roof and, hopefully, showed them something new. When the time came, it was completely unnecessary for me to walk my them to the tube station of one of the most famous squares in the world, a journey they had all made countless times, but I wanted to have a walk and settle my thoughts. A quick flit around Soho after midnight will definitely get you thinking but how settled those thoughts will be is another matter. On my way home I saw a young man, of around my age, settling down in a door way. I thought this was strange because he looked well dressed but on closer inspection his once trendy clothes were filthy from the dirt and grime of London streets and it was obvious that he was settling in for the night. I had a horror of recognition; how long before this was me? In this instant I was already homeless, reeling around the city with no place to go and no-one to care anyway; no connections at all, in fact. My reverie was broken less than five minutes later when I was asked if I had any change by another homeless person - who looked even worse off than the first - and my tenuous position, my flimsy social standing, was already reinstated.
When I returned I had an interesting chat with another member of the Oubliette (one of the young Canadian brothers, both of whom are actors) who told me of his contempt for everything that was represented by the monstrous freak show that was now, and would continue to be so for the next three days, being packed away outside. It annoyed him that some people view acting as a lesser art-form and he blamed those ensconced in shiny people carriers for this. For him, acting is a search for truth; the tragedy being that most people find this truth too uncomfortable to watch. We talked also of the similarities between acting and writing; the search for truth, the exploration of the soul and the hope for connection and betterment. The search, also, for an authentic voice.
As the fake snow whirled around outside in the Square, I thought about appearance and reality, of the two homeless people from earlier and of those protected from this harsh world by their fickle fame, and of how impossible it must be to ever see truth from behind tinted windows…