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Boarded up

November 01 2020

Author and writer David Tovey shared his painting I’m on the Pavement yet again with the Pavement readers. He says: “I couldn’t just explain the picture in one paragraph, so I wrote it in sections like poetry” 

Finally Broken
There’s only so long you can be homeless for. For some it’s a matter of days, others it’s years, but there will be that day when you completely break. That day you either die or you get off the streets.

Life on the streets is hard, made harder by the government policies that are designed not to help the single male. Every time I asked for help, I was turned away. This brick wall covered in barbed wire was there just stopping me from getting off the streets, clinging to parts of my soul every time I tried to get over it. Even though I’m no longer homeless; part of my soul is and will always be.

Boarded up from the Inside
No one ever sees the real David any more, I boarded his soul up many years ago. I found it easier to lock him away, than to show him. The daily pain, the illness, the selftorment are all left behind those boards.

Free as the Birds
When you make that decision to end your life, everything becomes clear and your mind focused. I felt as free as the birds in the sky, flying and diving, and I finally felt peace.

I’m in this living hell, four walls. No doors. Locked in a padded cell. From the outside I look in control, but it’s all a façade. I’m tormented 24/7 by oneself, I feel as if I’m constantly headbutting a wall, damaging my brain, smashing my face, breaking my skull. But then there’s that bright light, that flash of hope, that something that makes me see….

Creative healing in David Tovey's I'm on the Pavement yet again. © DT


So many tracks to walk down, so many to get lost on. I just want to get on one and see if I can stay on it, but my illnesses and mental health always throw up a bloody wall.

Not My House
Locked out. Punished for being poor, broken by mental health and addictions. I stand, stare and dream. Keep dreaming, keep dreaming! Not my house, never will be.

Another night in the gutter. It’s raining, I’m freezing cold but I’m well hidden, I must be as people walk by, they don’t see me, I don’t see me. I don’t see my reflection; all I see is the floor where I sleep in the gutter.

My Stairway
Living with several terminal illnesses that will eventually kill me, gives you a completely different outlook on life. Mine seems to be a stairway, every day is another step used up. Not knowing how many steps I have left on that stairway.

Light and Dark
That mental health stairway making your day: the light for a good day or dark and bad. What side of the stair will today be?

Message for God
I tried to take my life a few times over the past six years and luckily I’m still here to talk about it. I’m leaving a message to God: "You haven’t got me yet!"

In a nutshell

  • If your mental health or situation is stressful talk to the Samaritans on 116 123. For another source of support text SHOUT.
    See the List in the centre for numbers.
  • Drawing and writing can help. David now works at Arts & Homelessness International, see
  • St Mungo’s Recovery College can help keep you busy or learn skills. During lockdown they were online so check to see what activities you could join on 0203 239 5918 (Mon–Fri,10am–5pm or email