‘Black Stuff’ – an intimate and reflective account of notions of home and housing

As part of our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Initiative, we are inviting people to share their experiences of housing and home. Our latest contribution is in the form of a poem. It provides an intimate and reflective account of the author’s experiences and notions of home and housing.

About Kevin

My name is Kevin. I’m from Tottenham, North London. I was born and raised in one of the most deprived areas in the country. High rates of unemployment, crime, and street violence.

I was fortunate enough to be born into a loving, stable two-parent household. At the age of 12 my world changed (as it does for most children) I left the safety and familiarity of childhood and entered the turbulent world of adulthood.

At 12 years old, secondary school was a traumatic experience filled with both physical and emotional abuse due to my disability, Erb’s Palsy. Bullying was constant, every class, every playtime, every toilet break. I had suicidal thoughts, not so much I wanted to be dead but rather I wished the bullying would stop.

After my father lost his job, he became an alcoholic and a gambler. Consequently, my parents divorced when I was 13. By age 16, I began smoking and drinking, truanting from school was a weekly occurrence to escape the bullying. Home life was one of loneliness. With my siblings older than me they moved out, my father was gone, and my mum worked 12 hours a day. I spent most of my time alone.

I failed my GCSEs and decided, after years of contemplation that running away would solve my problems. It didn’t last long, a few weeks. The cold, loneliness and fear of being on the streets were enough for me to seek help. I went to the Victim Support Unit in Ilford. I  wasn’t sure what they could do for me, but I thought “victim support” would be a place that could, at least, offer something.

A lady named Bethany decided to call my sister and reunite me with my family, she also informed the school of my experiences.

Bethany also encouraged me to enrol in an NVQ workshop for IT training at an Adult Learning Centre. Being around adults increased my confidence and made me realise that not everyone thinks the same. Fast forward almost 20 years, my life couldn’t be any more different then when I was 16. I am married, I live in France, I own four properties, I have two master’s degrees (almost three soon) and I have worked in banking and finance in Dubai.

I do not say these things to brag, but to point out just how far my life has changed, and how grateful I am that social services was there for me when I needed them.

Young people who are homeless just need a break, for someone to guide them. I was lucky to find Bethany, most are not.

Kevin’s poem

‘Black Stuff’

There is a crack in the wall,
It sees me,
It knows me,
Full of molten, sticky black stuff,
It smells of pounded yam and sulphur,
Pure black, against the lilac walls,
It bubbles, hisses,
The black stuff oozes,
Gingerly weaving out of the cheap, velvet curtains
It edges towards me,
Zig zagging,
Careful not to taint the white trainers,
Bypassing Nokia 3210,
Aged skin, blood flushing on green veins,
On black skin,
I see your black stuff,
I know you too batty boy,
Crank your neck,
Look UP, where the blue-eyed Jesus stares DOWN,
the unseen, seen
The walls know,
Piss smell lingers,
My fingers smell of fried fish,
I need to go,
The black stuff,
Is coming too.

Views expressed by authors may not represent the views of CaCHE.


Date: December 13, 2021 10:10 am


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