Thursday, 24 May 2012

Life and death - "Wheels"

The Feast has always been about life yet death is very close to many who attend.

This blog is in memory of Anthony McKain!

He was more commonly known as 'Wheels' because he was unable to walk and therefore was in a wheelchair.  Wheels died whilst serving a 3 year sentence in HMP Belmarsh in April 2012.
I got to know Wheels early on in my time in Catford so probably about 8 years ago.  I visited the bungalow that he lived in.  It was a shocking place, windows broken and radiators hanging off the wall.  He was separated from his wife and he never spoke badly of her because he was frustrated at himself rather then her for their split.  He allowed many people to stay at his when they were homeless which led to even more chaos.  It was only time before he lost his property and Wheels spent many years homeless.  Hostels never worked for him. Sadly for myself and other housing worker who did everything they could ultimately his anger and addiction prevented him from finding accommodation again.  His disability always added an extra layer of complication, even to his end!

I received a letter from Wheels in March, written from prison.  I have read it many times again since hearing that he had killed himself. The letter makes me cry!

Here in his own words is the reality of life and death. [Extracts from the letter].

"As you can see my life's caught up with me again [prison].  I actually was trying to make a change but life just didn't go to plan.  It got so freaky!"
"I got seriously drunk to numb the pain and also cope with the freezing cold of trying to sleep under a tarpaulin under a hedge"
"I was on the verge of ending it all so committed enough crime to get put in prison just to get out of the cold before I neded up dead but didn't intend gettnig 3 years."
"most people do some form of work in here, I can't even do that as the workshops are up the stairs."
"say hello to everyone, hope you all had a nice Christmas.  Hope you got something nice.  Although I don't know them , hope your family are fine.  Remember good as you are, they put up with your busy life and the cranks you deal deal with, Ha Ha." 

I understood Wheels and he understood me.  We didn't agree on everything but we respected each other.  Death took Wheels before he found a Life worth living.  I miss him!