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Carran’s working diary 5: Day 3 in the Working House

My First Bible 1963

My First Bible 1963

I am the door: by me if any man enter in , he shall be saved, and shall go in and out and find pasture. (John 10:9)

Today the door was locked.  After trying the back way which was also locked I heard the voice of  a distraught cover porter bemoaning his difficulties in trying to cover for three people and that the missing porter had been put on the ground floor when his ticker was a problem.  I didn’t quite understand because the accent was so broad.  I noticed how his voice softened when I asked him to open up for me.  I haven’t seen that porter before.  Porters are important people.  They are gatekeepers and like the butterfly with the same name they fly off when you need them most but rest for a long time in the place where they usually are but go off just as you approach.  They are never there when you want them.  Not their fault, they have lots of doors to look after. The other day I asked the cleaner to lock up for me.  I now know where the key is and if I feel extra transgressive I think I could even let myself in and out.

Today is like a lock in.  Everywhere is locked.

My journey here was more or less the same as yesterday.  The sun was still shining and the lawyer and his assistant were on the train.  Today she let her hair down, but wore a black blouse with a frilly bib that made her look lawyerly; not a word but it is now.

With Luke 10:25-37 in mind – the parable of the Good Samaritan, I determined today not to pass by on the other side, it being the third day of course.  I remembered the homeless man and prepared myself with two fifty pence coins.  The moment of sparing any change is like Oliver’s can I have some more?  This man doesn’t ask but his presence is enough. In goes the coin (only one because of the one further up the road) and I note he has mainly bronze and the odd ten pence.  It’s early in the day I suppose. He says thank you.

Further down are the Jehovah’s Witnesses, they are young women on duty today, busy chatting, too busy to notice that I might not shut the door on them today. Ironically they miss the opportunity God has given them and I have to take a leaflet from their stand instead.  Curiously it is subtitled: How to deal with burnout and for a minute I think it isn’t their tract but something to do with over stretched students because of the young woman on the front page  but the AWAKE! is a giveaway and of course tucked inside is The Watchtower announcing Jehovah’s Kingdom: Will man ruin the earth beyond repair?

Further down I spend my other fifty pence on two younger people who could be frauds but getting closer I see they look rough so in it goes.  The man says, “Thanks me love”.  Hearing the voice makes me less nervous of his tattoos and piercings.

I don’t feel better.  I feel bad about this. I always feel uncomfortable about this. The fact that they don’t have anywhere to live: tramps I mean, vagabonds, paupers – all inappropriate words nowadays.   I realise I don’t know a single homeless person personally.  Now I feel really bad.

The homeless are constantly on a threshold. They sit in doorways and under bridges. They have dogs and begging bowls and tatty sleeping bags and smelly plastic bags full of stuff.  If I was thinking mythologically I would say they are Hecate’s children.

When the woman poured perfume on Jesus’ head from an alabaster box, his disciples indignantly insisted it was a waste. Jesus called it a good work that she had done : For ye shall have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always. For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial.

The  David Clapson story   is a sorry story of  the poor whom we have always.  There was no precious ointment for David Clapson.  He had £3.44, six tea bags, a tin of soup, an out-of-date can of sardines and an empty stomach when he died.

Today I think this is the most uncomfortable project I have worked on.  I feel totally inadequate.

My First Bible and The Watchtower collected on Oxford Road 2014

My First Bible and The Watchtower collected on Oxford Road 2014



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