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Opulence to homeless… in one night

Reflecting on a poignant evening the other day…

On a visit recently to Chester, we wandered into the Cathedral just as their choral evensong was starting.  A serene and heavenly experience held securely within such an opulent, vast and beautiful old building. Intricately carved dark wood everywhere. I sat as still as a church mouse for fear of my individual polished wood well seat creaking and disturbing the very sparse congregation. The service transported me immediately back 40 years to a time when I enjoyed singing in my father’s church choir, all trussed up in red and white like a decorative cherub. The memory was pleasant and familiar having spent a large portion of my youth singing my little heart out for all to hear. (It got me thinking about emotions and wondering whether choral singing in a choir, as controlled as it is by the choir master, is a very beneficial and positive way to feel and express one’s emotions… food for thought.)

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Evensong ended with a shake of hands from the Cathedral Dean on the way out, a rather well meaning but rather pompous and patronising chap, some things unfortunately don’t change.  Meandering through the deserted back streets at twilight we headed for our next stop, the best fine dining in Chester at The Grosvenor Hotel. Another very opulent and grand affair with excellent attentive service and the most decadent and flavorsome food, the cushion of halibut, red wine arborio, sticky oxtail and marrow bone butter was to die for!

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Stuffed full we left at about 11.30 pm, stepping into the freezing cold night to see a young girl crouched in a doorway surrounded by carrier bags of clothes and a few personal possessions begging for change. We stopped and spoke to her for a while, Sophie came from Anglesey and had been on the streets for 4 months, she was surprisingly compus mentus and genuinely seemed to be more down on her luck than heavily into drugs or alcohol. I couldn’t leave her without doing more than giving her the £2 coin I had already found in my pocket. I dug deeper, gave her £20 wished her well and walked away, leaving her to be swallowed by the bitter cold and me thinking how can I help more?

Having been homeless myself I felt concerned for Sophie’s welfare out on the streets alone, as we walked home I asked that her guides and angels look after her, finding Sophie at least some warm, safe shelter and a new start with some hope of a brighter, warmer future.

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