I like my bed, always have done, but Friday night was different. Leaving home and taking the chilly walk to the centre of Leamington gave me time to think about the night ahead. I could have taken the car rather than walk the couple of miles from home but it didn’t feel right to be honest. If I was going to do this, I wanted to do it right. Tonight I was going to take on one of the very first challenges that I scribbled down in my note book back at the end of 2016 when the idea of the 56 challenge was born. How could I get people on my side and persuade them to part with some hard earned cash? I needed to get at least a flavour of what it’s like to spend a night on the streets. As I made my way along the leafy streets of my home town, it felt somehow different and I was apprehensive. Carrying a rucksack and a bit of stubble on my chin, I sensed that people we looking at me different, almost through me. The temperature over the last few days had been dropping so I knew that it was going to be a cold one, but how cold, I would soon find out. Finding my pitch for the night, I built myself a little den out of cardboard and a bit of plastic sheet and then I watched the clock, I watched the band, I wondered around with all I had in a rucksack. That came strange to me, not having a base, somewhere to leave my stuff. I felt very nomadic and lonely. The early evening was OK, listening to the stories of real people who make a difference, the local community copper, a Homeless lady and a volunteer who had lost her son to the streets. I checked the time, just after midnight and time try and get some sleep. I had been putting off the inevitable, the time when I had to bed down for the night and see if my shelter would keep me warn.
The streets were noisy; Friday night is party night in most towns. The sirens, the shouting, the general chatter seemed very loud with my head on the ground. I was very uneasy and wanted my own bed but I had a long day ahead of me so needed to at least attempt to get some rest and burying my head in my sleeping bag in an attempt to shut out the world, I managed a few minutes sleep, maybe an hour and then the cold. My cardboard box was going soft, attracting the moisture from the damp grass and the temperature was dropping and I was wide awake. Still noisy and flashing blue lights reflecting of the buildings around me added to the tension. I checked the time, dawn was still hours away and then I needed the loo. Another dimension to the night, I need to leave my warm sleeping back and head off to find the toilet. People were still walking around, groups of people chatted and party goers staggered around in endless circles. Then didn’t see me, I was invisible and I got the feeling of what the nights are like, only a flavour and I didn’t like it. I headed back and attempted to get a little more sleep, not sure I did, but at around 5am, I gave in and sat for an hour and watch the world go by.
I was never so glad to see the dawn…..