“I wouldn’t cope with homelessness” – Guest Opinion Column published in the Gazette & Herald Newspaper – Nov 2014

I’m up to my elbows in the washing up bowl trying to clear up the debris from dinner when out of the blue my husband comes out with a blinding statement from across the other side of the kitchen along the lines of “you would cope if you were homeless”. Before I can even contemplate how 1) he has randomly thought of this topic or 2) how he could possibly have come to this conclusion, I reply with total conviction that no, there was no way that I would be able to cope with being homeless.

I’m not sure whether I was more surprised by the fact he believes me to be that capable or by the look of disappointment that appeared on his face after my admission of hypothetical failure.

And so, I subsequently reflect on the reasons as to why, hypothetically, I couldn’t cope with being homeless.

Firstly, and most practically, I have an issue with being either cold or wet. Combine these two variables and you get one very unhappy Lisa. Unbelievably, he has also obviously forgotten that I have such cold feet that I have to wear socks in bed and that he bought me an electric foot warmer for my Christmas present last year.

Secondly, I am scared of the dark. Not just scared but really scared. Although on the positive side the irrational fear that I have had since early childhood of monsters lurking under my bed or in the wardrobes would be successfully eradicated.

Thirdly, I actually quite like human company. My husband might be surprised by this admission since he knows full well that the last thing I want to do in the evening is have a conversation with him. What he doesn’t understand is that I have been interacting with people all day long and by the time I get home I have lost the ability to actually talk. So being homeless wouldn’t suit me on the basis that I couldn’t do it by myself due to loneliness and I don’t trust anyone enough to rely on them to look after me.

Fourth, I am a bit of a snob when it comes to my choice of alcohol. I enjoy a glass of chilled wine with my dinner most nights, but only a glass, and I haven’t yet met any rough sleepers with a vacuvin wine stopper amongst their possessions.

Further reasons include the fact that I have a pitifully bad lower back which means that I couldn’t walk very far or lie down on hard surfaces; I would have no resources to charge my mobile phone and so I wouldn’t be able to play the Simpsons app game that I am totally addicted to; or charge my kindle so that I could read my book; I have an absolute abhorrence of public toilets and I like soft toilet paper. Add to this the fact that I get hunger pains if I don’t eat and I adore my food then I would be seriously disappointed if I had to exist on sandwiches or tins of cold baked beans as my staple diet.

Another problem would be that I would get myself into serious trouble if anyone attempted violence, verbal or physical, since I am obnoxiously gobby and I would end up getting hurt.

I wouldn’t be able to cope with the lack of structure in my day. Like most humans beings I need schedules and routines, take that away and all you would have would be hours and hours of endless meaningless, empty time. And no kindle.

I would find it impossible to ask anyone for help due to both my own sense of pride and also an overwhelming feeling of failure. And since I need a minimum of eight hours sleep a night to function anywhere near adequately I wouldn’t have the mental capacity to go to meetings with statutory agencies, answer questions or fill in endless pages and pages of forms.

I’d give it forty-eight hours maximum…

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