M and C – The story continues

I’ve written before about my homeless friends M and C, How they got themselves into a house and how then they broke up and C went off somewhere. I saw M a lot going past in the train after that and then for a while I didn’t.
Suddenly he started getting on at my station. He told me he’d found C – she was at her mother’s in the country – but that he’d lost the house. He told me he’d been in jail for a few months. “I punched a guy who was fiddling with little kids,” he told me. “But I was good in jail and worked on a trade certificate. I’m a qualified plasterer.”
He’s quite a nice person -he always helps tourists with the ticket machines and timetables very kindly – but it’s also clear he’s got a short fuse and he does love his Wild Turkey and coke. He has a big scar across his head which implies maybe Acquired Brain Injury or is simply due to his epilepsy. For a couple of days he had work on a building site. Then he was back to begging. So one step forward two back.
Then a few days later I saw a familiar figure on the opposite platform. It was C. She waved at me. She looked good.
The next day M waved at me out of the train. “Great news. She’s back,” he shouted.
They stopped by the station a couple of days later. They seemed pretty happy. Though C seems a bit reserved. They had a wizened little old man in tow. C introduced him as her father. “He’s staying with us for a bit,” she said. Staying was a strange word to use. They were all off into the city to do some begging. If they didn’t make enough money for a room, well they had sleeping bags.
M and C make me aware of my own middle-classness – my assumptions about work, houses and stability. You can’t have a relative to stay with you unless you at least have a floor for them to sleep on, can you? They also make me realize you don’t have to travel to experience other ways of life. They are here in Melbourne, right under your nose.

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