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  • Writer's pictureLeah Jones

Fear of forgetting and being forgotten

I read somewhere that all diaries are meant to be published, that no one writes a diary without some inkling that it may one day become a book. Perhaps this only relates to politicians and celebrities, but I do believe that everyone has a fear of being forgotten. Of becoming anonymous and simply a name in the public records without stories. I think that is one of the reasons that 40 people turned out today for Paul’s memorial.

Paul, I’ve mentioned before, was the King of King’s Road. A rough sleeper who made the covered sidewalk outside of the Chelsea Fire Brigade his home for the last 6 or 7 years. After he died in his sleep due to age or exposure, an altar of candles, flowers, photographs, and messages grew where he once lived. Shortly before I went to Belfast, I passed and the city of London was out with a powerwasher spraying away all final evidence of the man who’d lived there. The residents of Chelsea and friends of Paul were allowed approximately two weeks to mourne his passing, then the City decided that two weeks was long enough. He was, after all, just a homeless man.

It was a varied group of people who showed up today–most of them had sat with him, brought him peanut butter and marmelade sandwhiches, cans of Stella Artois. Then I am sure there were those, who like me, slipped him food while he was sleeping and never spoke to him. Little old ladies, punk teenagers, homeless men, business women. Briefcases and safeway bags, roses with baby’s breath, carnations with lilies, $20 pillar candles, $0.35 votives.

I never spoke to him, so I don’t know if he feared being forgotten. The passengers of the #319, #19, #11, and #211 buses, the members of Chelsea Methodist, the residents of Chelsea and Kensington, and the workers of the Kings Road are all doing what they can to keep him alive and in their prayers.

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