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Posts Tagged ‘Gone’

Today felt like the first proper day of the New Year here. All three kids are back to school now, the Vicar was writing a sermon, our ministry trainee King arrived back after his holiday and Gone called round. All back to normal.

Gone is back in the hostel up the road after a spell spent at Her Majesty’s Pleasure. Unfortunately, due to the date of his arrest and sentencing, Her Majesty was pleased to release him back into the community on Christmas Eve. The Vicar went to collect him from the prison. Due to a fine he’d landed himself with whilst inside, he was released with no money whatsoever. He was also released without a coat or jumper. If the Vicar hadn’t been there to collect him he’d have had no means of getting to his hostel. And he’d have been very cold.

Kind people from church had supplied clothes, food and a telly which were waiting for him at the hostel. Gone really needs a telly. It helps him keep calm and stops him going out drinking. But we’ve had all sorts of telly issues. The original telly didn’t work very well and then last night the Vicar went round to see if he could get it working better. And instead it exploded.

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Gone was upset, understandably, and came round today shouting that he’d got himself arrested for stealing a telly from a shop in the tow-un. He hadn’t, but we did get the message that he wanted a new television. Thankfully another kind person from church donated another tv today and it was waiting in our hallway. So the Vicar went around this evening to set it up. And it’s still not working properly. There’s a problem with the aerial. And until it is sorted, we’ll have Gone at the front door, shouting. Or asking for dvds. Or he’ll go back to prison, where he can get television without the hassle.

It’s just a small thing, but for Gone it’s big. And so we’re praying for some sort of technical miracle. In the meantime, we’ve lent Gone a box set of House. Not his first preference, but something to keep his anxiety at bay. As long as his anxiety isn’t obscure medical condition linked I guess.

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Gone Autumn News

Those of you who follow the progress of Gone, our friend who’s been long term homeless, will be sad to hear that he’s back in prison for a stint. The good news is that he managed over four months in the hostel up the road from us and they’re happy to have him back when he’s released. Sadly, he was in a bit of a state after our two week holiday, which coincided with hostel staff leave. That was when he managed to get himself arrested and we weren’t looped in so couldn’t help at the magistrate’s.

Prison will also be an opportunity for him to dry out a bit in preparation for another go at living in the hostel. We are still optimistic that he will be able to tackle life from his place near us, and we’re praying for him and planning for his release. Do continue to #prayforGone. God is working in his life, and in ours.

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All the usual things happened this afternoon:

1. We had a barbecue. Rev Ted and his family joined us, together with Dreamer, for a lovely lazy lunch to celebrate the Queen’s 14th birthday. (FOURTEEN! HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?). We ate lots of salad and fruit as well as the obligatory meatfest. Because it’s after camp where we’d overindulged in carbs in a big way. Our insides need to recover a bit. There was lots of laughter and many tales of teenagers in Devon.

2. The family from over the road who have no garden and lots of children had a picnic in the churchyard. I’m very glad the churchyard is there for families without grass outside their house. They asked me where we’d been and I told them I’d been to Devon with lots of teenagers. They looked enthusiastic when I told them that the twins (aged 9 now) would soon be able to join us.

3. Gone let himself into the garden, very drunk and smelly. He talked at me for ages about how hard he’s finding things, and the Queen brought him some crisps to eat (he didn’t want a cup of coffee). Then he asked for food to get him through the next few days and I rummaged through the cupboards (which haven’t been restocked since camp) for some things he can eat. He’s not able to prepare much because he broke the microwave. So he says. Then I came into the house to get him a new notebook for remembering things.

Whilst I was in the house, he stripped off his TWO fleeces and started to help himself to the Joker’s damp t-shirt from the washing line. When we let him know that this wasn’t totally acceptable, he stormed away, swearing as much as possible. He took the bag of food, but thankfully not the t-shirt (it’s a favourite Dr Who one). I’ve put the washing on again. And I’ll see if I can get some cheap t-shirts next time I’m shopping.

So it’s good to be home. Tales of camp to come next week. Spoiler: we had a great time.

The garden is the place to be today

The garden is the place to be today

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Gone has been staying in our chicken shed for a few weeks now. It’s dry and sheltered and he feels safe there. We haven’t seen him much because he can get in there through a side gate, so he’s mostly been coming in to sleep and then leaving without knocking on the kitchen window or the front door. He spends the day on the streets and visiting other helpful Vicarages.

It had been a few days and I mentioned to the Vicar that we’d not seen him for a bit, so the Vicar turned off the light in the shed, which ensures that Gone will come and talk to us to get the light put back on. That was last night, and then this morning we were told by a friend that Gone has gone. He’s gone back to prison. And that’s why we’ve not seen him. He’s not going to be away for long, but at least he’ll be dry and sheltered and fed for a few weeks.

GoneOnce again he will be inside for a short while and then released with money and a room in a hostel allocated to him. He’ll spend the money on Frosty Jack and buying a mobile phone and a radio or video camera, and he’ll come to our doorstep and tell us he’s not going to the hostel because he doesn’t trust people in hostels. And I expect he’ll ask to sleep in our shed again and we’ll go through the cycle of approaching various agencies and wondering what on earth can be done for him.

Sometimes I think this loop will continue for ever. He’s someone who cannot really cope with the system there is. Over the years many kindhearted people have helped him, but he’s never managed any long term stability.

So please pray for him, and for those of us who know him and want something better for him. We have a short break now and it would be good to think through some options for him. Pray that he’d work out what he should do himself, and pray we’d be wise too and have the energy to help again. Pray for Gone.

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Vicarage life has been as busy as ever this weekend. A few highlights:

  • Gone is back. He’s just out of prison and has set up camp under our hedge. He had a hostel place available, but he hates hostels so hasn’t gone there. He spent his release money on an mp3 player and a mobile phone (which he’s already lost). The Vicar gave him a hat, scarf, gloves and a big coat. The coat is also lost. We also provided a sleeping bag, blanket and mat. But it’s pretty chilly there out under the hedge and Gone is frailer again. Trouble is that he’s one of those people who struggle to operate within the system that’s provided. He reminds me of the Lady in the Van whom Alan Bennett wrote about. Do pray for him and for all those trying to help.
  • We had a Ladies’ Craft Night. Dreamer had printed lovely fliers and told lots of people about the evening. And she and I had a meeting on Monday all about the crafts and plans for the evening. But then family illness meant she had to be away from the parish. So a couple of valiant church ladies stepped into the breach and helped me to set up and heaps of people helped to clear up afterwards. And somehow, by God’s grace, I managed to prepare the crafts AND a talk – all very simple, I hasten to add. And we had a wonderful night of chatting, creativity, delicious puddings and thinking about how Mary prepared for Christmas. Happily, the only problem was that there wasn’t enough time. So plans are now afoot for an Easter Craft Night – a great way to get church and friends together and share both the gospel and our lives.
  • We went out for Sunday lunch at SOMEONE ELSE’S HOUSE. An unusual experience for us – and a lovely one. Our friends are Tongolese so we ate rice and fried chicken and sweet fried dumpling and lots of other yummies with spicy sauce on the side. It was so so lovely to have a Sunday off catering and God’s timing was perfect – the Craft Night was the previous evening.
  • A couple of people have posted reviews of The Ministry of a Messy House over the weekend: Rachel found it encouraging and Gary‘s favourite story was the one about the communion bread (I think this is everyone’s favourite). Martha hasn’t posted a review, but an interview with me about the book.
  • My kitchen is very chilly. So much so that I’m even going to do some ironing and hope the heat from the steam will defrost my fingers.

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Dear old Gone showed up at our door the other week. He’d just been released from prison, where he’s spent the summer. It’s almost an annual event, him showing up in September, homeless, almost like he has a plan to help new Ministry Trainees learn good doorstep skills.

He’d thrown his prison release paperwork in the bin and first went to Rev Very Benevolent over in the next tow-un to ours. Rev V-B tried to help Gone find somewhere to live, but sadly the housing group who’d accommodated him before said they wouldn’t take him on. In fact, they’d been about to evict him before he went to jail.

The trouble for Gone is that he’s not really a criminal. He shouldn’t really be in jail. He’s a vulnerable and increasingly frail man with a serious alcohol addiction. And he’s enormously annoying and quite scary when he’s in the drink. And then charming and sweet and can talk the socks off anyone who’ll listen. But he’s frightened and anxious about other people, which makes him a pretty dire neighbour. And he can cause trouble and stress when he turns up somewhere boozed up. What he needs is something like an old fashioned asylum, where he’s not allowed out, not allowed alcohol, and not given his own money. He’d spent £75 of his getting-out-of-prison money on a portable dvd player and some dvds. He could have had a couple of nights in a hotel for that. But he’s incapable of spending money wisely and no-one will house him for long. So I guess in some ways he knew what would happen next.

Rev V-B contacted me a few days later to say that Gone had been conspicuous by his absence for a few days. And that he’d had a call to say that Gone would be up before a magistrate for another breach of his ASBO. So it looks like the prison service is once again expensively accommodating a vulnerable man who doesn’t fit in the system. And maybe it’s the only way that will work for him. It does seem crazy though. Pray with us for wisdom to know how to help him in his next foray back into the world a few months (I guess) from now.

Gone left his calling card in our flower bed

Gone left his calling card on our drive

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Well, I’m giving it a go. Blogging again. Although I may struggle to write in under 36,000 words now…

 

So a Vicarage news digest for Monday:

 

  1. Did I mention I’d FINISHED THE BOOK? It’s with my editor and I just have to sort out the blurb for the back cover and book catalogues and take a trip to Nottingham to enthuse at the sales reps.
  2. We have anew Ministry Trainee, Red, who has joined Radiohead in the attic. He has a trumpet and is proving handy with a teatowel. Radiohead has decided to leave at the end of August so an attic space will be available if you or someone you know would like to join us in the mess for a year or two to learn about ministry and the consumption of cake.
  3. I have lots of shiny new books to review.
  4. We saw Gone the other day, who was walking with crutches (he was assaulted recently and had to have an operation on his hip), was a bit vague about whether he’d been evicted (we think he hasn’t) and was carrying a bottle of Frosty Jack in his pocket.
  5. I am typing this with a sleeping baby on my knee. His mum is asleep in our spare room. I have just managed to adjust him so I can type with both hands.
  6. Going back to school was a trauma for the whole household this morning and I am looking forward to our holiday jetlag being reversed. The Queen wasn’t asleep until after 11pm…
Vicarage cake available for  one lucky applicant from September

Vicarage cake available for
one lucky applicant from September

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