Somethings Never Change
This is Alan.
Alan is the reason I do street portraits, I first met him on the 25th of November 2010 when my wife and I went to Manchester for the Christmas market, he was sat on the floor much as he is here playing the recorder for money. I went to see if he was OK and crouched down beside him, I ended up sitting next to him and speaking with him for about forty minutes, he showed me books he had and photographs he had taken of the far east when he was there as a young man. He spoke with a well manicured accent and you just knew he was a gentleman, he let me take his photograph and we shook hands as I left but for a short while I understood what it was like not to be seen, to be sat on the floor when people don't look down, your under the radar, invisible.
This is Alan now some 17 months later on the 15th of March 2012, sat outside a bank advertising a current account of all things, I spotted him and all I could think of was the irony of where he was sat, still playing his recorder for money, his bags and shopping trolley containing his life still. My wife spotted him too and said "Is that Alan, go say hi" I couldn't, I just took his photograph and stared.
Its was as if someone had thrown a blanket of sadness over me, after all this time I come back and he is still there, still begging, still trying to survive at his age. It was then that I realised it was not sadness, it was grief, I was grieving for a loss of humanity, we think that putting a few pounds in a collectors tin we are helping to save the world, we are civilised and progressive. Until the day comes that we can stop having people that are invisible we will never be civilised, as I keep saying to myself, this is the 21st century, isn't it?
I know during the hangout +Athena Carey
asked about talking to the homeless and keeping it all together when I do, I spoke at times when it was hard, this was one occasion when I simply could not, I was devastated to come back and find him still here but my fear is how will I feel when I come back and don't find him at all?