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Archive for the ‘homelessness’ Category

Does anyone out there know of a kind person who could give a good home to Jack, a four-year-old, neutered, part-eastern cat who’s currently residing in the Cat Protection Home in Billnudgel.

Jack

(If you think he’s looking a bit wild-eyed in the photo, it’s because he’s never been in a cage before.)

Jack’s tale is a sorry one. He was living a gung ho life quite happily with a girlfriend of mine for about two years. Then, alas, she fell ill and had to move to Woollongong to be closer to her only surviving son. Her son and wife already had two dogs. They were kind enough to take my friend’s dog, whom she’d had for over ten years. But not the cat.

Which is why Jack now resides in the Billinudgel Cat Protection home.

I would love to have taken him myself, but I am the possessor of a feline thug named Tim, who, though fifteen-years-old and neutered, will attack anything that comes inside our fence line — dogs any size, other cats, etc.

A few years back, I tried to give a home to a beautiful blue-eyed cat someone had dumped, but Tim would not accept him.

I really felt for that cat, and kept him going for over three years. By the time he’d found me, he was wild; we could not touch him, let alone take him to a refuge. I fed him outside, and managed to keep the two cats separated – he knew to vacate the yard when the thug was released for the day. Eventually Old Blue Eyes was injured by a car and had to be put down at the vet’s. So I can’t take Jack, much as I’d like to.

I wonder: is there anyone out there who could? He’s been in the home for three weeks now, and my heart really goes out to him. Please ring the big hearted Bailey, who does such good work for these animals, on 0497 442 623 if you think you can.

Here’s hoping.

 

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cyclone

Tropical cyclone Oswald, with its attendant winds of 140 kph and rain that looks set to cause worse flooding in south-east Queensland than the disastrous floods of 2011 has now moved south to New South Wales. Here, in South Golden Beach, only a few miles from the Queensland border, no one goes out. The streets are empty and strewn with debris, mostly leaves and branches from trees.

Oswald has now been officially downgraded to ex-tropical cyclone Oswald. For us, the worst of the wind was last night, and few of us got much sleep, Oswald had turned into a very unpredictable rain depression that carried within it mini-cyclones that could tear a town apart as one did yesterday in Bargara, a seaside township near Bundaberg.

Still, now at 2 p.m. it seems that we are over the worst. Wind gusts are down to around 70 kph and are predicted to drop further in the late evening. Oswald is slated to arrive in Sydney in the early hours of tomorrow morning, bringing with it the kind of torrential rain that has already flooded the CBDs of towns in south-east Queensland and is going to flood the capital city of Brisbane once more. The people in this area are exhausted: they barely survived the 2011 floods in which lives were lost and many homes were flooded to the rooftops. Most had just finished rebuilding or renovating; now, they must go through it all again. In some towns, the flood heights are predicted to be higher than in 2011. So we are lucky. So far, there have been not even been any power cuts, though most are well prepared with water, matches, torches, candles, food and gas burners.

Floods are not such a problem here. In fourteen years of living in South Golden Beach, the closest I’ve ever come to being flooded was on 30 June 2005, when the water reached to within six inches of the floorboards. Here, being so close to the coast, the biggest danger the village faces is from wind. There’s always the possibility that some cyclone with nothing better to do will wander in from the sea and wipe us out the way Cyclone Zoe did the little hamlet of Sheltering Palms four miles to the south of us, in 1974.

And so we count our blessings. We are overdue for a really bad cyclone. Fortunately, this wasn’t the one.

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Someone I know on the UK business and social network site Ecademy put this blog up on 6 August. I was so affected by it I asked to be allowed to reproduce it here. The writer wishes to remain anonymous.

 

 

 

 

I’m not quite sure what his name is. He doesn’t talk much and when he does he mutters into his chest. His head is always down. Basically, he’s invisible to almost everyone. The residents ignore him sullying their perfect town. The holiday-makers look straight past him like he’s a nobody at a networking event. Their children are afraid; they whisper to each other and their protectors.

I think his name is Alwen or something Welsh. On the rare occasions when I have coached speech from him his voice is not crude. It has vestigial politeness from the age before everyone started imitating Jonathon Ross and there is a musical lilt to it. Welsh or possibly Irish.

His path crosses mine most days of the week and sometimes we arrive at the same point at the same time. I try my best to have some change ready to slip into his hand, or a fiver – with which I can say, “Fancy some fish and chips”. He always thanks me, shocked but polite. He always mumbles “Thank you very much.” There’s nothing drunken, common, criminal, abusive, threatening or druggy about his demeanour or his speech.

He invariably wears a battered fleece and a hideous waterproof jacket, whatever the weather. Sometimes he stands near the beach, slightly out of view, watching the normal people and their normal lives, as if he is fascinated by their world.

Once in a while I mention him to people to see what they think. All the most beautiful girls in town are volunteer collectors for the Lifeboats. I chat to them most days when they look bored. None of them even knew who I was talking about, though he walks right past them, twice, each day. A sun-beaten local with classic seaside casuals, chestnut tan and white beard often speaks to me in broad Cornish accent. He thought Alwen was into drugs. The lady with five sheepdogs thinks he’s a tramp, which is fairly obvious. My friend Keith who empties the litter bins and cleans the windows at Sainsbury’s (which is right by the beach) says “…he’s pitiful but harmless…” No more curious than that.

Is Alwen mentally ill? Was he released into the community? I doubt it. I can recognise nutters and feel their vibes. He doesn’t give off that strange menace that crazies and hostile networkers do. Did he lose his job? Did his wife kick him out? How long has he been sleeping rough? Does he get any benefits? I doubt it: sometimes I see him picking through bins near the chip shops. I have never seen him with a drink in his hand, though I know where he goes to collect dog ends that teenage thrill-seekers have left behind during their petting sessions.

I strongly suspect from his age and the strength of his constitution in resisting that awful life that he’s ex Army. One of those guys who goes into shock and never comes out. One of the heroes that we abandon after we’ve used them up. If I can discover the details I know where to write to get him help. I’ve done it before when I lived in Warminster, which is haunted by broken soldiers.

Where does he shelter on stormy nights? I’m trying to find out but he’s extremely secretive. He glances behind him like he’s afraid of being followed. He cowers. He wants to be invisible. He wants to be lost and unknown. He’s the real thing, not some wanna-be folk-singer posturing at being a drifter like everyone did in 1966. This guy truly is drifting, like garbage in the wind as far as anyone is concerned… Even the Reserve Police Lady doesn’t know who he is, or doesn’t care, or doesn’t want the hassle… And she’s very nice.

So, it seems like it is down to me to keep him in touch with the human race and watch out for him in the snow. And I can’t even walk. We don’t want to take him home but I can’t abandon him to the elements and the slight risk of yobs with vicious dogs that we get in the summer. Someone has to keep an eye on him to make sure he isn’t ill, to check that he puts in an appearance every day, his invisible appearance. If I could discover where he lays his head I can confirm that he’s OK in bad weather when he doesn’t show…

This evening I thought I saw him and since I had a pocket full of change I went after him for a casual hello and maybe a nod of the head and a quick handover not to insult his dignity. As usual, he was looking back to check that no one is following. He saw it was me and slowed down, because he actually likes having a bit of money to spend for a change.

As I approached I was getting ready to speak, carefully… Same ample hair but scared white. Same battered coat but the trousers looked different. Perhaps he’s found some new ones in a skip. He turned.

It was someone else: a distinguished intellectual type, dressed down, in town for the Jazz Festival. But he looked just as haunted, just as afraid in the eyes, just as bitter in the jaw, more so, in fact. Perhaps that’s why we ignore those who have succumbed to the fate we fear ourselves, slipping through the cracks in society and into the gutter.

One banker’s bonus could save Alwen and ten thousand others like him.

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