I know we’re supposed to still be in summer (fat chance of any sun though), but I’ve been thinking recently of the last time I was in Bristol.
I was there a few months ago to see a couple of friends and of course our feet turned in the direction of the city centre for a spot of shopping.
To get from our hotel to Cabot Circus we walked through a beautifully-kept park with play equipment galore.
Bristol has always had a huge problem with homeless people sleeping rough, but for the first time I saw shanty towns – hamlets, really – of tents in public parks and other spaces where people were clearly living.
The Christmas markets were on, so you can imagine what the temperature was like.
I’ve not thought much of it since, but last week I decided to take a brisk early morning walk around Portsmouth, passing by Kingston Prison as I went.
And there, jammed in a corner, was a lone tent with a crumpled-up drinks cans outside.
As I walked I saw a hand emerge from the zip and throw something else out. I walked on.
I’ve never really thought of Portsmouth as having a huge problem with homelessness. Not compared to the bigger cities of Bristol and Cardiff.
Even Swansea’s problems seem larger.
Perhaps that’s because I didn’t spend a lot of time in and around the city when I was growing up, apart from shopping in Cascades, heading to the seafront for a night out or hopping on a ferry.
It just didn’t seem an issue.
In a way I hope I’m wrong.
Hear me out. If I’m wrong, it means the problem hasn’t got worse. But if I’m right, and we’re on a path to getting our own shanty towns of homeless people in tents because there are no hostels, then that’s terrible news.
I don’t think it’s something we really talk about in the city.
But I hope that’s not because it’s a dirty little secret, the elephant in the room – or tent?
The tent dweller will have to move on when the prison is redeveloped into luxury flats.
But where will he or she go?
COUNTRY MAY BE GOING TO THE DOGS, BUT SPORT CHEERS US UP
Ithink it was Andy Murray winning Wimbledon that reminded me the 2016 Olympics are just around the corner.
If I can stay up that late, in less than three weeks’ time I’ll be watching the opening ceremony from the comfort of my sofa, hoping the forthcoming weeks give us more sporting triumphs and hoping, just a tiny bit, that it’s not as well organised as London 2012 (don’t tell anyone I said that).
Sport is brilliant and after Murray’s win and Lewis Hamilton’s British GP triumph, not to mention Chris Froome’s stonking rides in the Tour de France, the country might seem like it’s going to the dogs, but at least we have sport to cheer us up.
Unless you’re an England football fan wondering what the future holds.
NICE ATTACK IS REMINDER THAT OUR ISSUES HAVE NOT CHANGED
It’s the worst kind of news to wake up to. The news that, at the time of writing this, 84 people were murdered in a senseless attack during a public event in Nice by a man bent on killing as many innocent people as possible.
It puts the coverage of the relentlessly opening and closing of the No 10 door into perspective, doesn’t it?
While we’ve been running around whingeing about Brexit or about people whingeing about Brexit, and seeing whether Theresa May could top her appointment of Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary on the scale of ridiculousness, the world has kept on turning.
The issues we had this time last month are the issues we have today, no matter who’s behind the black door in SW1A and no matter how quickly we leave the EU.