A monastery in France and a flat-share

I went to Taize. First I went with our philospophy course from school. The first impression I had was the distinct smell of vanilla extract in the church of Taize, not the lovely little church in the village of Taize, but the big church of reconciliation. I know of course that it's not really vanilla extract, but incense.

I quite liked the Communaute de Taize. I did. I liked the little songs sung in church, and I liked the flowing white habits of the monks walking into church, praying, and leaving church. That's why I had gone to Taize in the first place. To volunteer in this lovely part of France.

It was a hot summer. The hollihooks were blooming, and I worked at the valuable objects and in the laundry, pressing sheets, and folding them up neatly for the monks and nuns as well as for the numerous guests. It was fun to chat to other volunteers in the evening, to get to know people from other cultures and backgrounds, to drink too much in the little outlet selling wine and beer and to improve my spoken English as well as my spoken French. I wasn't particularly religious, but I quite liked going to the talks on spiritual topics, and the small groups of youngsters talking away.

This takes me back to the time when I lived in Brixton Hill. I had found the room having completed my studies. A friend of mine had recommended the flat-share to me. I had some money going spare, so almost every evening I would venture out to go salsa dancing. Whenever I walked up the stairs of Brixton tube station, I noticed a black guy selling incense and the Big Issue. 'Biggi, Biggi, Biggi'.

I have to admit never buying the Big Issue from him. Nor did I buy the Big Issue from homeless persons that often. I didn't sell the Big Issue either, when I became a homeless person in London myself. Although I did venture to Vauxhall once, where they have the little outlet handing out badges as well as the magazine in question. The other people in the flat-share were ok. On Sundays we would venture to The Crown pub for a natter and a beer, or else eat ice-cream in front of the television.

Mum had stopped paying the rent. I was lumbered with a phone bill of 300 pounds that was left by one of my flat-mates, and the police had come round to check why another one of us had flashed while stirring a soup in the kitchen. I was asked to move out, and had become homeless. The homeless point in Brixton was crowded, and not too clean. I had been given a place in temporary accommodation in Brixton, in order to be given a room in a hostel for the homeless. I was grateful for the room given, and planted geraniums in a flower box and put them on the window sill.
 

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