I held her hand, it wasn't cold. I looked at her, she wasn't dirty. I somehow doubted her story. Judith is an alcoholic. She has lost her flat because her daughter came out of prision and set up her very own 'crack den' under her mother's nose. Her daughter's boyfriend moved in and made sure there was nothing Judith could do.
Here she was telling me she had been sleeping rough for several weeks. I look for the tale-tell signs of living on the street and there were none. I look for the deep imbedded grim; the intense cold; the saturated wetness of living rough in November and there were none.
I listen to her story. Her sobs and sniffs grow stronger and more frequent. I get her a tissue. She continues to weep and wail. I feel awkward, gangly - then she grabs me and tells me to give her a hug. I don't do hugs! - it cost me but I don't think she has had that for a while. Her story is an excuse to talk. Her story is an excuse to be with others. Her story is an excuse to be listened to. Her story is an excuse to spend time with...
"I don't want my life to be like this..." I look at her, her alcohol fumes fill my nostrils "Judith...it doesn't have to be...!"