Head down, he pulls his collar up against the cold night air, trudging onwards, wool cap on and his meager possessions slung in a plastic bag over his shoulder. He wanders aimlessly, with no clear idea of where he is going.
Christ Tam, how did it get to this stage? You had a good life up in Glesga,a good wife Margaret and two bairns, two sons, Rab the oldest and young Tommy.
Drink and my craving for it, that is the fucking problem, you just had to drink on and on,you just couldnt take just one or two could you? Naw couldn’t get enough until you were blootered.It was a good feeling at the time though,Christ it was good, not so good the next day though eh?
He tries to laugh.
He is feeling sorry for himself, remembering the good days with Margaret and the weans. Shit i thought that was a fifty pence piece, nope its a fucking silver bottle top.
He spits, annoyed, I’m bloody hungry though, aye hungry for drink ya daftie.
I don’t even know what town i am in. The last time i had a job was four months ago back up in Consett, working aye labouring in the steel works, until i was paid off. Something will turn up I’m sure it will. Is that a milk bottle on that step? Och he’s coming out the door.
Head down he walks quickly away.
Christ I could go a drink, I wonder if there is any night shelters around here? The Sally Army give you a hot meal and a mug of tea, mibbee scrounge a few bob for a bottle of buckie.
Who is he shouting at?
Come in son and get yourself warm,
Naw yer alright mister,I’m fine.
Come in lad out of the cold and get a heat, the church is open to everyone, Everyone is welcome here.
What church is it anyway? I am not a Catholic!
It does not matter son, its Our Lady of the Angels, Come in out of the cold please.
The congregation sings, The bells of the Angelus call us to pray, with sweet tones announcing the sacred Ave,Ave, Ave,Ave Maria. He sits down on the pew, letting the heat fill up his bones, letting his damp clothes dry away until The Mass is finished.
He waits until everyone has left. The priest comes and speaks to him:
Where are you going son?
I was looking for the Sally Army Hostel.
Well if you go down Hartshill road and travel east you will find a Homeless Shelter in Regent Street.
Back out into the cold, he walks down Hartshill road, trying to find his way. He stops to ask a passing woman,but she just hurries away. He asks directions from an old guy, who gives him the right directions.
Eventually he arrives in Regent Street, he walks down the road until he reaches the shelter. He asks at the reception, the man brings him inside and gives him a pie, some sausage rolls and a steaming mug of tea.
Great pies these mister
yes lad we get them free sometimes from Tam Elders the bakers
Nae wonder they are good,the same name as me.
Sorry mister,but i know your face,i don’t know from where though,were you ever in Scotland?
Yes i played for Celtic, I am Lou Macari,
Lou i have a confession to make, I am a Rangers man,
Its not a problem son,what did you say your name was?
Its Tam,i come from Kinning Park, once a lifetime back, I stayed near Jim Baxter’s pub in Paisley Road West.
Baxter was a great player Tam. What happened to you? What brings you to Stoke on Trent?
Well i was a welder in the shipyards at Govan, but i was laid off after the drink got the better of me. I left the wife and weans and headed south to Consett looking for work, then same story as always, got drunk and was paid off.
Tam, you are welcome here, stay here overnight and we shall have a chat in the morning and try to figure out how to help you. Have a shower and try to get some sleep.
Oh by the way Tam, have a Merry Christmas.
Lou Macari and his team do a fucking brilliant job, helping people who have fallen on hard times,he doesny judge them just helps them, so dig deep and help HIM. It is the Celtic way and yous are great people. Here’s how…