Do you think this is right?

It’s been a while since my last entry and I can only blame Christmas, New Year and anyone and anything else who happens to raise themselves into the ‘my fault’ firing line.

But really it has been laziness.  I hate winter.  It saps all the energy and creative juice from me and I am reduced to keeping warm and watching the rain wash the windows and feel the wind rock the lorry.  However, I have been making shelves and a new table so I suppose it hasn’t been total lethargy.

I’ve also been nursing Mimi who has had a knee operation (in case you don’t know, Mimi is one of the two dogs who share my life, my lorry home and my food.  The other is Blue.  More about them another time.)

I’ve also been planning this blog in my head so I do know what I’m going to talk about today.  It’s about people.  The people I meet accidentally while living on the road.  Not the ones who just walk past and ignore me, but the ones who somehow have a view about my lifestyle and want to express it in some way.  And they are generally in two categories; for and against.

I do occasionally park in the same place for more than two nights but I try not to. I also try to avoid built up areas and streets with homes in, but sometimes that’s not possible and I park in a residential street, and that’s what I did one day just before Christmas, in Sheffield, visiting a friend.  Not far from her house, there is a flat, broad residential street with large houses with large front gardens.  There are parking spaces and permit parking (I have and display a Sheffield visitor’s parking permit).  I had parked there a few times and not for more than one night at any one time.

I had been visited by the police one morning whilst parked in this street.  They said they had been phoned by someone complaining about me.  They had been told that there was rubbish left around the lorry and that I was causing a nuisance.  On seeing that there was no rubbish and that I was just carrying on my law-abiding way of life, they wished me good morning and went their way.  But I knew I had made a local enemy.

The next time I parked in the same street, it wasn’t long before a gentleman of about my age caught me leaving the lorry in the morning to walk the dogs.  I felt he had been waiting to see me leave and he was angling for a confrontation.  He had been eying me from his front garden a few yards down and you could tell by his body language he wanted a fight. 

“Do you think this is right?” His first gambit with a wave of his hand which included me, the dogs and my home.

I wish I’d had the foresight to say “You mean morally?” but I just said “I’m sorry?”

“All this”, same gesture again, “do you think this is alright?” He obviously thought there ought to be some law that I was breaking just by my very existence.  I asked him whether it had been him who had phoned the police and he said he had.  I told him they had been to see me and confirmed to me that I was not breaking any law.  He seemed very annoyed and disappointed by that. I said that the lorry was my home and tried to engage him with a discussion about the choice I had made to live in it.  He wasn’t having any of it and turned away muttering something about ‘Why this street?” Classic Nimby. Classic prejudice.

The other meeting was with a guy of about the same age who again stopped me as I was leaving with the dogs another morning a few days later.  Just like Nimby man, he had a look as he saw me emerging from the lorry and stopped a few paces down. 

He turned and said “Do you live in there?”  I thought, here we go again and started to brush up my defensive arguments.

“It’s just that I’m an architect and am doing a long term project on living in small spaces for Sheffield City Council.  Would you mind if I talked to you and took a few photos?”

Adrian has become a local friend and has been the serendipitous link to a space in Sheffield I may be moving to shortly.  But that’s the subject of another blog.

Just for the record, I have never taken any Benefits.  I pay National Insurance and Income Tax and parking fees.  My lorry is fully road legal and I try to live ecologically and I separate my waste and dispose of it correctly.

So do you think this is right?

From a road near you, until next time,

Mr Alexander
Mr Alexander