Today I was in Glasgow and I was caught up in all the early seasonal sparkle. The whole city looked like it was gearing up for a big party; and everyone was invited, well almost everyone.
I met a couple on the street, they had a dog, a tent and lots of sleeping bags. Their stories, like most living on the streets, were torrid, sad and seemingly hopeless. Yet they were funny, upbeat and ridiculously kind as they offered me “the newly donated, clean sleeping bag” to sit on. For some reason I was completely taken in by this couple and their banter was true Glaswegian wonderfulness, but while I was sat on the ground it made me notice every grumble of the passers by. “The poor dog” or the “dog didn’t ask for that life, such a shame”. The dog, the dog, the dog. The dog, as far as I could see, was well fed and blissfully unaware that it was living on argyle street or that it was any different from any other canine. I however, was sad. Sad that so many had so much time for a dog, and yet so little time for people. I was so sad, that I asked this couple how it made them feel, the man laughed and said “I don’t need them to feel for me, or to worry about me, I have real love and I wonder if any of them do”.
Taken a back I asked them how long they’d been together? Not long but they were married, she said he was her safe haven and he said “aye but she is my tiny dancer” (like the song). They told me they’d been clean since they got married, and I could well believe it, and that their goal is to live a life protecting each other. It’s hard to say what they were protecting each other from, but you could see it. There was no house, no stuff, not a lot of food but there was an abundance of love the likes of that which I hadn’t seen in such a long time.
Homelessness in this wealthy nation in 2017 angers me, almost as much as anything else, the notion that in winter people will pitch a tent to survive makes my blood boil with rage. To be sneered at by passers by because they see fit to have a dog which they so clearly love, and to be scorned for having no shelter was almost enough to tip my anger into a shouting match with strangers. But what would that achieve? Very little. As we work in or out of politics, it’s our job to just love on those less fortunate with the vigour in which this couple loved each other. I don’t mean romantic love, I mean a love for humanity which ensures it’s survival.
I bought gifts, shoes, coffees, lunch. I jumped into my BMW. I drove to my lovely little terraced house. I hate a load of food in a warm home. I will sleep alone in my big comfortable bed. I so wish they had even a little of what I have; but I did all of this alone. So really it would be a wonderful exchange if they got even a fraction of my life, and I had a fraction of their love. I’m so thankful for all the lovely things I have, but I’m so ready to acknowledge that others have so much more even when it first appears that they have so little 💛