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Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

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December 01 2022

A collection of thoughts on homelessness and what home means, from the imagination of David Wishart

My first separation from a safe place I called a refuge would be 26 September 1949. On a large double bed in a small white bungalow in a village near Lockerbie, Scotland called Hightae. Exactly two hours later my twin sister arrived. It was quite a quick birth I believe, as I gracefully slid down my mother’s birth canal.

I can remember being pushed by my sister’s feet on my head, which may account for my strange thoughts at times, as she helped me speed up my journey along the way. It’s been an interesting ride. In France when you’re going home you say you’re going chez moi, meaning my place, but not all of us have that luxury, of course. In farming country, they say a home is not a home without a dog or a cat.

If you are sick, or if you are sad, it’s impossible to settle in a place you might like to call home. Home is always better if there is a friend you can share a home with, and you are really homeless if that friendship ever breaks down. It’s not easy to live with people. For some, institutional life is the safest place, like prison, or the army, or the navy. Different words come to mind, such as sanctuary, retreat, nest, or even hut in the garden.

To be more topical, I ask you a question: Is a palace a home? You may reply, depends who is there with you, or is it warm? Or is it clean? It surprised me how comfortable people appeared to be queuing for the Queen’s funeral in a little tent or a blanket. So maybe a blanket can be a home, especially if you are sharing the blanket with a nice person.

A home could be where you eat or where you keep your most precious books or music. Maybe a home is a place inside your head, or your heart.

When I was a boy, 73 years ago, I learned to sing a song called There’s No Place Like Home, although some people may think Ibiza is like home. I camped on a beach in Sardinia for three months once, and it was the best home I ever had.         

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