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Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

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Sept-Oct 2019 : DEATH ON THE STREETS READ ONLINE
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GERALD DENNY (GED)

Gerald Denny (Ged). Born: 02/03/55 Died: 08/12/18. Funeral: 17/05/19. Obit from Samir Jeraj (sent in August 2019).

They gathered around two benches outside the chapel. Members of a very small club came to pay their tributes to one of their own, Gerald Denny. “Nothing brings people together like a funeral,” said one friend. Among the attendees were survivors and former residents of the UK’s most famous homeless community, the Bullring in Waterloo – AKA Cardboard City. 

 

Updates on absent friends were shared, one was seriously ill in hospital and would die a few days later, another two were in the process of being evicted. They had been living in Ged’s flat since he passed away and the council had finally decided to kick them out. Ged probably would have approved. Cans and bottles were quietly poured into reusable coffee cups and water bottles and we filed into the chapel to the tune of Something’s gone wrong again.

 

The Bullring has an almost legendary status among people who were homeless in London in the 90s. Residents will forcefully challenge people who claimed to have been there. Cardboard City was the name that stuck in the media, because of the Cardboard homes (‘Bashes’) that they lived in. There was more than one Cardboard City in the 80s and 90s: Lincoln Inn Fields, Embankment and the Bullring all hosted homeless communities – and there was some amount of neighbourhood rivalry between them. 

 

The choice of a chapel, cremation and a C of E service was controversial. Ged had said he wanted his body to go to science, but never set out what he wanted in writing. His ex-wife, another former Bullring resident, searched through stacks of his papers to find something that would provide the necessary evidence without success. 

 

Ged also briefly had a career as an actor. He was part of the first pieces of work done by Cardboard Citizens, a theatre company founded to provide a voice to the experiences and lives of homeless people. He starred in their opening show in Waterloo, called ‘Pimps, pushers and prostitutes.’ This work with Cardboard Citizens was a lasting source of pride, according to his ex.  

 

The punk anarchists bristled as a rather overly-formal C of E priest led us through the prayers and readings you get at a funeral. The eulogy, read by Ged’s ex-wife, took us through how they met, became friends, lovers, married, then fell out of love, divorced, but were able to find friendship again before he died. Waterloo Sunset played out, recalling their time together in the Bullring as we softly sang along. The number of “fucks” and “shits” in the speech flustered the priest, but nothing as much as the line, ‘I think he shagged everyone in this room, and if he didn’t you missed out.’ 

 

We went out into the cemetery as Who killed Bambiplayed, all except one – a Scottish guy who had lived down the Bullring and was part of the campaign to keep it open. Huskie stayed behind for a while in the chapel, on his own, before joining us outside for a final goodbye. 

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