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)

21 replies »

      • Where I went to school, there’d been a homeless man who’d sit on the main street every night, asking for money, a routine ‘got any change’ with a toothless lilt. He’d sell apples or for Halloween, candy. Some student one night ran off with his basket of candy, and he didn’t get up, just watched, and the candy flew everywhere.

      • It’s a shame how we have those memories of wanting to help someone when we just stood back. I’ve stood back plenty of times when I should’ve stuck out my chest and made a stand. I was reminiscing to myself only recently about some girl I went to school with that people referred to as ‘pizza face’. She was bullied terribly, and even though it wasn’t up to me to do anything, I wish that just once I’d gone up to her and said something. Anything.

  1. the kindnesses you showed him are worth more than any treasure the earth holds. So sad how he died. I like that you wrote of him. I like that he will be remembered as ‘a character’ who played harmonica. Your words speak of the dignity of every human being and I thank you for that. 🍃

    • Thank you, I’m glad you think so. I don’t think anyone wants to be forgotten. It’s probably what motivates so many artists to pick up a pen/brush/guitar. I guess it’s up to us to give a voice to those less fortunate, and to shine a light on their lives x

  2. I loved this. Funny the ghosts who haunt our walks, what catches our eye. But you write and capture it so well. A piece of life, a person caught between the pages and preserved.

    • Thank you 🙂 I guess it can’t change his fate, but it can go some way to give meaning to a meaningless end. It’s like a flower pressed between the pages of a book and preserved years after; it’s not alive, but it’s better than being dust x

  3. Well written, and like the fact that he played harmonica! I wrote a song years back about a homeless guy who in some ways had more freedom than many of us do.

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