In the old town, there was this homeless guy named Carrot. Just like me, he had locks of red hair and a beard that was in desperate need of a trim. For several years, I used to pass him on my travels through the streets in the town centre. Sometimes, it was in the underpass near the University, and at others, it was next to the cashpoints opposite the old bookshop I worked in before it moved into the new shopping arcade. He played the harmonica, and more often than not he’d place his cap in front of him while he blew out the handful of melodies he knew. They were all rubbish, and as he was almost always drunk, they sounded like nothing you’d ever wish to hear. But he was a character, and I liked him. A few times I bought him a packet of cigarettes, and once, on New Year’s Eve, the one where I cheated, I gave him twenty quid and wished him well on my way from the pub to a mates house party. He probably never recognised me, and yet it didn’t matter. He was a good person who’d fucked up, and even though I was only giving him smokes and money for booze, it was better than ignoring him like most of those who passed him by. In my last year living there before moving away to be closer to Sarah, he died during the bad winter we had. Some say he froze to death during the middle of the night, while others claimed he died from the drink in some bedsit. Within a few days, people had created a makeshift shrine for him near the cashpoints that had been his second home. I remember being stood there one Saturday morning reading the messages that had been left for him. Sarah was up visiting me, and I think one of us took some photographs, but those photos have long since been swallowed up by time. He was here, and now he isn’t. Like so many others, he lived his life until it was time to go home. Perhaps it was a wasted one, it was certainly cruel, that much is for sure. Either way, he made an impact, and as I stood there the other day, and as I walked through the same piss-stinking underpass, his memory danced within my mind along with those ex-lovers that taunted me every step of the way. None of that life still exists, and yet somehow it does. In my head, and in my words, it’s all right here. It needs to be because I have to do justice to what has been forgotten. In my own calamitous way, I have to preserve what was once beautiful, because the more I see of this world, the more it seems that beauty is a commodity fast running out of supply.
(If you type ‘Carrot High Wycombe’ into Youtube, there’s a video of him performing)