Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Penniless Nomad on the Run.

A blog about rain and wind and Wales and wanting to go running off into the hills with a backpack. Written in late November 2012. 

a Tuesday and I am in Cardiff. At this moment in time I am squatting in someone else's house with 3 cats, one of whom only has 3 legs, I am suddenly penniless (but I also suddenly own a terribly expensive and top of the range tablet which is only indirectly involved with the fact that I am penniless), the flood waters are rising and I may never get home. I am terrified but I kind of like it.

I had a week off work and I hadn't seen my good friend Jess in a while so I came here for a little holiday although essentially, given that Jess is mostly at work and I am exhausted, I came here for a rest. A rest from London, a rest from life - I don't know, but Jess and her boyfriend have gone to work without leaving me a key, so I can't go out and anyway, I don't want to - outside it's blowing a gale and it's only a matter of time before it begins to rain again. Jess's family in north Wales have had their garden and fields flooded. I have been watching BBC Wales with an open mouth. People have been driven out of their homes and are now floating down the street on rafts, wrapped in Red Cross blankets and the like. I am cosy and warm, writing at a three-screen computer whilst intermittently getting up to let a cat out, or in, or sometimes to let one in whilst another goes out. Occasionally one of them will wind itself round my leg and purr. All I can hear is silence, unless the back door is open, and then I can hear the mini hurricane that's currently happening. Earlier on, I walked the two-and-a-half-minute walk round the corner to the Co-Op (Jess had instructed me to leave the door on the latch, something that you could never do in London for fear of pillaging, murder and death) and I had crept out in the howling gale to buy something for lunch. Inside the Co-op, a very very Welsh woman was standing talking to the also very very Welsh cashier while a small, polite queue formed behind them. 'Well now, if you need someone to take it off your hands I can nip round after work and take a look at it.' 'Yes, I just don't know what I's going to do with it otherwise Betty' etc. The next person in the queue, a skinny teenage boy with acne and more tattoos than me, asked politely if they sold stamps. They didn't, but Betty and her companion broke off their conversation quite happily, to spend ten comprehensive minutes instructing the teenager on exactly where to go to buy stamps at the cheapest prices. Then I piled my goods on the counter, paid for them and carried them home in my arms, because in Wales, every shop charges 5p for a carrier bag and in absolute fairness, this system does make you think twice about whether or not you actually NEED a carrier bag. I contemplated whether I actually NEEDED a carrier bag as I clutched my armful of frozen packages and fought my way 'home' in what was now a freezing, howling gale. My hands had gone blue. That 5p apparently goes to charity but sometimes it's best just to stack it all up and tough it out. The environment thanked me with big fat blustery hugs. When I got in, my hair was sticking up and one of my hands had dropped off. But the flood had not yet reached our front door so all was well.

The truth is, I like the idea of being a penniless nomad. Sometimes all I want to do is take off with a wad of cash in my pocket and a bag full of only the things I really need and see how far I can get before the money runs out. I think secretly, a lot of us would like to do this. The reason I am suddenly penniless is such a first-world problem - I closed my bank account without properly ensuring my employers knew about it and my paycheck this month got deposited firmly into the Ether. This is not the same as being truly penniless, just the same as rocking up and staying in Cardiff on my friends couch with a terribly expensive and top of the range tablet and seven pairs of shoes is not the same as travelling around the world like a nomad. And at the end of the week, I will swim back to London and go back on shift. But, as I let the three-legged cat out for the sixteenth time and simultaneously check the back garden for a rising tide, I realise that nothing is certain and who knows, one of these days perhaps I really will take off for the sunset. The three legged cat changes his mind halfway out the door and turns tail and heads for the sofa. I wonder about the possibility of putting a peg leg on him and taking him with me. He could be my first mate. In fact, if the floods make it this far, we won't have long to wait...

Donate to the British Red Cross here.

Donate to the Fugitives on the Run from Cancer LAS Jailbreak team, who actually did do the penniless nomad thing, and for a good cause too.