(that's North Wales
Bangor, not Maine
) has a fairly small hard core community of homeless
people, not counting the ever-changing faces of those who pass through the city from time to time. The local
s know each of them well- they are as much a part of the scenery as the hills, or the cathedral
. There's Gav the tin whistle
man who hangs around outside Thresher's
, the off licence
, and plays a singular melody on a cheap tin whistle as long as he is out; the schizophrenic/suicidal guy with a broken nose and a constant look of pure terror
; cool young busker
guy with his dog; the Upper Bangor Big Issue
sellers; and One Chord Guitar Man.
His name is Kevin and he stands outside of a shoe shop that is no longer in business, playing a guitar in a way that at first sounds awful- only after listening over a prolonged period of time can his audience find a sort of melody in the strumming. His height, build and beard, the sort I can only aspire to grow, belie the mumbling that accompanies his guitar. He is quite a shy person and avoids eye contact. However, he will sometimes write a confrontational song on the spot about the people who pass him by without dropping change into his guitar case, drawing on obvious physical flaws or differences to make fun of. Nobody ever notices, it is very difficult to figure out the words he is singing most of the time.
Kevin lives in a tent in the woods on Bangor mountain. He has arranged a wall of slate around his tent and fire, over which hangs his little cooking pot from a spit. This is where he sleeps and where he comes to be alone. He has joked about stealing lambs from the field next to his tent, and about catching chlamydia from them. I am never sure which of the things he says are true and which are jokes. I like to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he has a brilliant sense of humour, but I can never really tell.
Some things I learned about Kevin over the time I have known him: he did not always live in Bangor and he was not always broke. He is homeless out of choice. He was once a drama teacher in one of the secondary schools in Wolverhampton. He hasn't told me his reason for leaving Wolverhampton and moving to Bangor- maybe he was bored and felt like a change, maybe he just wanted to be alone.
On alternating Wednesdays Kevin collects his benefit cheque and spends the day getting drunk on cheap wine, walking around the city, greeting anybody who looks sufficiently foreign with a Nazi salute and barking racial slurs at random intervals. It is people like Kevin that bring all the colour into the world.