Monday, March 12, 2012

Billy, Come Home

A lot of mentions about homelessness in Billy, Come Home written by Mary Rose Callaghan. The novel starts with Dublin, 16 October then goes on to Chapter one which chronicles events leading up to that day. On October 16th, Angie is on her way to Oxford, England to identify a body thought to be that of her missing brother, Billy. Billy is schizophrenic.

Angie likens Billy to "...a homeless Don Quixote, solving the riddle of the universe."

Angie once had a job teaching at a boarding school for homeless children; "That's what they were ~ rich but homeless."

Angie's friends decide to host a "coffee morning in aid of the homeless." Guests were required "to pay five euro a cup, or whatever they could afford for the homeless." The event was to be held at Angie's house; "The neighbours obviously weren't sympathetic to the homeless." None of them attended the event.

A friend suggests Angie speak to homeless people who may have seen Billy. She did even though she thought it futile because: "Billy was fastidious about his clothes and always taking baths. He'd be afraid of people who were unwashed and drunk." She becomes angry seeing two homeless people eating a meal on the pavement outside of a shop. Her anger was not with the people but with " a wealthy country that allowed them to live on the street. They must be so cold and frightened.", stating there were over five thousand homeless in Ireland.

She saw them "wrapped in blankets," sometimes "dropped coins in their cups. Most often, I walked on, asking myself whey they were making me feel guilty." With the usual thoughts: get a job or not going to enable you to booze it up. Then she remembers, "They were often abuse victims, Or mentally ill, like Billy."

She was told that the "homeless charities" might be helpful in locating Billy.

With Billy missing, Angie lost interest in a joint endeavor with a friend, "Other homeless people could live in it...". The friend wanted to buy and renovate a building to create affordable housing for mentally ill homeless people.

A politician says: "It's a great occasion to be given the key to your own home for the first time." "Everyone needs a home and it's the policy of the Irish government to assist the homeless in every way."

At one point in the story, Angie's father says he will not tell her mother bad news. Yet two pages (and a day) later when Angie calls, "They were relieved." I guess the father could have changed his mind and told the mother. When Angie called he could have said, "I am glad I decided not to worry your mother about this." Or, "I am sorry I worried your mother by telling her."

This last quote brought to mind my schizophrenic nephew: "he became a zombie in carpet slippers, no motivation." My sister got angry with me because I agreed with Stan about not taking the prescription medications. My reason for agreeing was he became exactly like that: a zombie. Like Billy in the book, Stan was what they called learning disabled.

Might say he had a map in his head; if Stan was in the passenger seat, would never get lost or need to stop and ask for directions. It was after his father left his mother, that (Stan) Junior began to change. I questioned the schizophrenic diagnosis, because he did not exhibit signs of mental illness. Until after the doctors turned him into a zombie, and all downhill from there.

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