Drop-in centre. Photos & text Manuel Capurso (5/5)

© Manuel Capurso.

Manuel Capurso writes:

In a metropolis like London, people tend to exist in their own world: their existence as social creatures rapidly diminishes. The result is a sort of public culture that promotes detachment over engagement and where the basis of social solidarity loses significance.

In this contest the drop in centre in Church Street represents a sort of unique experience, where old people can create and maintain “personal communities”. For most of the users the centre is their main form of social contact.  Some of them are poor, in poor health or without family support. By contrast, others have friends outside the centre, from whom they bring stories for those who are more isolated, and they represent a sort of virtual bridge to the outside world.

I spent one week there, the first couple of days trying to engage with them, introducing myself, talking to them, as I was aware that I was breaking their routine. Only after few days, when the novelty effect was over, I started taking pictures, getting varied reaction but being generally accepted as a silent presence. I tried to represent their dignity in the face of the social marginalisation they suffer in the outside world.

… for The London Column. © Manuel Capurso.

Drop-in centre. Photos Manuel Capurso, text Roisin Tierney (4/5)

© Manuel Capurso.

Diogenes Syndrome by Roisin Tierney

Old man, we can barely enter for the stench,
the ever-ripening fetor that swarms your flat,
that creeps beneath the door.  Your carpet dappled
with piles of your own manure.  Your bath piled high
with ‘stuff’.  The toilet blocked, a floating Vesuvius at its brim.
It’s been some time.  We interview you elsewhere.

The doctor notes your gentleness and filth,
Your gummy smile, lank hair and jovial good humour.
You swear you eat, mention cans of beer.
(You even lie, and say you exercise,
which makes us laugh, oh how we laugh at that!)
You only cry once, when you mention ‘rent’.
You fear perhaps the landlord wants you out.
You don’t know why.

My dear, its not too late, we’ll scrub you up,
allocate you your own social worker.
It’ll not happen again, not to you,
And we’re sorry that it even happened once.
Not that you even know what we’re on about –

nor we enough to force aside
that thing, that whatever-it-is, that blocks your light.

© Roisin Tierney.

All the poems in this series are from Dream Endings, by Roísin Tierney, Rack Press 2011, and used by permission.

N.B.: Editor’s note: the subject of Roisin’s poem is not the gentleman in Manuel’s photo. 

Drop-in centre. Photos Manuel Capurso, text Roisin Tierney (3/5)

© Manuel Capurso.

Vera by Roisin Tierney

Vera, eighty-something, sprightly yet,
lives with her daughter in her council flat.
She keeps it spick and span – immaculate.
Her short term memory’s gone, or going fast,
her grandchildren a blur.  She loves them all,
but cannot place a face.  Her keys are not
where she last laid them, the front door
flies open in the middle of the night.
She knows her husband’s dead these twenty years,
that they were happy, but can’t say what he did,
still manages to shop and use the stairs,
takes all her meds and likes to watch TV,
has only one perceptual delusion;
each night she sees a soldier in her room,
standing in the corner, leaning on
his rifle, looking towards her.
She thinks he’s real.  This does not disturb her.

© Roisin Tierney

All the poems in this series are from Dream Endings, by Roísin Tierney, Rack Press 2011, and used by permission.

N.B.: Editor’s note – the lady in Manuel’s photo is emphatically not the Vera of Roisin’s poem. 

Drop-in centre. Photos Manuel Capurso, text Roisin Tierney (2/5)

© Manuel Capurso.

Dream Endings by Roisin Tierney:

Horses stand and plume the air with breath.
They bow and dip their heads.
Feathers are fitted to their foreheads.
They are well-feathered now!  They stamp and sweat.
And someone is getting a right send-off.
Someone is getting the feathers.
See that glass carriage.  O Cinderella!
O dream world of happy endings!
Look.  A leaf is floating like a feather.
Look at the usher’s kind face.
He is dressed in tails.
He pats a horse. Flicks from his cuff
a tiny feather.  O Methuselah!
He mounts the rig.
Watch the children watching, open-mouthed.
Watch the horses shake their dressy heads.
They are ready to go now.  They are ready and willing.
The carriage is turning. O Hallelujah!
Watch red and yellow leaves floating in the air.
Watch the glass carriage disappear.
There is nobody in it. There is nobody there.
See the blackbird fluffing his feathers.
See the boy kick a ball down the street.
It is starting to rain. They will get wet.
There will be pall-bearers.
There will be a family, lipsticked and brave.
The carriage will open and shut. Then they’ll be off.
Recently Deceased One!
May your ceremony be simple, sincere.
Rain fills the puddles that edge your grave.
O Tinkerbell! Lao Tzu! Narnia!

© Roisin Tierney.

All the poems in this series are from Dream Endings, by Roísin Tierney, Rack Press 2011, and used by permission.