No Fixed Abode, a book by Charlie Carroll


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No Fixed Abode, a book by Charlie Carroll

Posted 31 May 2013 16:40 by martin

We get regular requests to publish promotional content created by third parties, as well as invitations to promote products or websites that have no natural fit with walking…  However, we recently received an invitation to review Charlie Carroll's new book “No Fixed Abode”, and our interest was piqued.  It's about walking (though not in a way we normally focus on), and there was no expectation on us to do anything other than review it.  So we bit.  Here you go:

No Fixed AbodeIn 2011 Charlie Carroll, a teacher, lost his job.  With time on his hands, and a long standing wanderlust, but no money to satisfy it, he took the radical step (literally) of deciding to become a tramp and walking from his home in Cornwall to London, sleeping rough on the way.  To be fair, and understandably, he did make some compromises, taking with him £50 for food, a primus stove, sleeping bag and £100 emergency money sewn into his coat.

Despite these compromises however, it was still a brave task for the author to undertake, and not one which many of us would dare to contemplate.  The net result is a book that gives a fascinating insight into life on the road.

He describes with sympathy the other rough sleepers he meets on his way, and gives the best insight many of us are likely to get into the experience of rough living – an insight which makes this reader, if not embarrassed, at least a little discomfited at passing by on the other side of the road wherever possible.

He found the majority of the people he met to be friendly, if a little suspicious of him and his motives.  One thing which struck me was his reporting of the jealous protection with which rough sleepers kept the location of their sleeping places close to their chest.  This apparent unfriendliness contrasted with an equivalent honouring of the sanctity of the locations of others.  For example. he left his sleeping bag on his pavement pitch for well over twelve hours and found it untouched on his return, something which I would never have suspected.

The most unnerving period of his odyssey, in the sense of being frightened for his safety, was the period he spent in London.  During this period, as well as sleeping on pavements where necessary, he also joined the protesters on Parliament Square for a while and at a later date, the Occupy London movement outside St Paul's Cathedral.  Again, his description of the people he met in both locations, as well as his reports on the dedication of the volunteer workers helping to feed and care for the homeless is an eye opener.

Whilst this was not a book which kept one awake at night because it was impossible to put down, it was, all in all, an interesting read and one which I recommend to those who think the homeless are best avoided or forgotten!!

Review by Terry Palmer

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