Thursday, 1 October 2015

'Bleeps', a morse code man.

artist book, made by Lois Blackburn in collaboration with homeless people at The Wellspring, Stockport

A day of making artist books and interviews at The Wellspring, Stockport on Tuesday for the project 'The Homeless Library.' A collection of moving, enlightening interviews starting with Mark an ex Royal Signals, military man aged 52. More interviews to follow in future blogs:

I’ve been homeless for a while. Just found somewhere to stay due to the people here- (The Wellspring) my son used to work here- he’d say if you get really stuck go down there and have a shower and something to eat. I’d had a fire at my flat, it was un-liveable.
I spent a few nights in our lovely church doorway opposite, St Mary’s, the ministers not to bad as long as you don’t take the mic. Military training coming out- find shelter first.

I was in the Royal Signals- military communications, Morse code, typing, ‘Bleeps’ as your called. I’m from Adswood, born Bridgehouse, left school without any qualifications, didn’t bother. I knew what I was going to do when I left home, all my family were in the military, brothers, sister, dad. 17 and a half I went in. On standby for the Falklands, been in two years then. When I first joined up did a 6 months tour of Belfast.

(Soldiers attract each other, if there’s another solider in the room you find each other straight away- in here (The Wellspring) like my friend the ex-marine Combat Tony.)

I was asked to leave the military, a bit of a naughty boy, nothing drastic- if I’d been an officer I would have got away with it. 21 when I left. ‘Eh up, what’s he done this time?’ Always the troublesome one, the youngest, spoilt, used to get away with murder.

I worked on building sites when I came out, ‘giv us a job’ £20 cash in hand, got a job don’t take no skill- who wants a Morse code operator?

I grew up with drink. My dad was a drinker, he’s Irish, in the blood is Guiness, Potatoes and Jameson’s. As soon as I could sing, copied my dad, saw a glass, picked it up.  GP recons I’m alcoholic dependent cos I don’t steal to get alcohol. I don’t see the difference. 18 years old with money in my pocket, posted to Germany with strong beer…

The brain haemorrhage caused a stroke. My mate found me on the floor, I woke up in Hope with rows of staples in my head and a tube in my throat, I asked why have I a tube in my throat? I had a tracheotomy to help my breathing due to the operation- they were worried about my lungs. Worse thing is I can’t sing any more and not being big headed but I was a pretty good musician. The stroke paralysed my left hand side and I was left handed, nobody wants a teaching assistant who can’t write, so had to give that up- 8 years ago in my mid 40s. I was a dinner lady for a bit, used to get up in the morning and think ‘great I’m going to work.’

People in the hostel don’t understand me getting up early, ‘hands off cocks, on with socks’ the sergeant in the army used to wake us up with, up at stupid o clock.

artist book, made by Lois Blackburn in collaboration with homeless people at The Wellspring, Stockport

Thanks to Helen, who volunteered her time to join me yesterday at The Wellspring, lending her talents, energy and enthusiasm. The Homeless Library project is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

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