When the door bell rang I was expecting inspectors, government officials investigating whether I was entitled to watch tv. It was two young ladies holding a leaflet entitled “What the Bible means”. Would I like to read about the bible? I’ll read anything. Would I like to know more? I always want to know more. Can we come back after you’ve read it and ask you what you thought about it? You want my opinion. I suppose so.
They left and questions were beginning to spin around my head. What drives young people to trawl the city, knocking at stranger’s doors, asking theological questions of strangers? Do they get some kind of training? Do there parents know what they are up to?
I had thought enough and had to get out of my room for a while so decided that a walk into town would help me clear the religion from the air. The NCP Car Park behind the Printworks looked like an interesting building to look from, so I decided to climb to the top and watch the Mancunians come and go, in their cars, on foot, with the shopping bags and briefcases. The Peak District, variously shaded green and brown, shone in the winter sun and made me long to get away from the concrete and steel and glass corridors, grey tarmac, engineered, ordered, directed and signposted, to a place where nature doesn’t pretend to owe us anything. Winter winds bit my face and steadily numbing fingers convinced me that it was time to leave so I bounded down flights of stairs until happened upon two homeless men, wrapped in fur lined coats and hats, broken noses and cut faces, black eyes and dirty finger nails, tin foil burning brown chemical substances, strong smelling, acidic, noxious. I'm sure they had hoped that this freezing cold staircase would be an ideal place to get their speedball together, away from prying eyes and not be disturbed by strangers bumbling in on their medication time. Being English, we ignored the fact that they were preparing the intravenous injection of opiates and instead talked about the weather. Cold isn’t it? Freezing. Not the kind of weather to be sleeping rough. I’ll say. I'd never had to sleep in the road, let alone in sub zero temperatures, but I could well imagine such an activity would call for some way to lighten the spirits, and chemicals seem ideal for that.
I imagined what it must have been like for the Jehovah's Witnesses and the Junkies and come to the conclusion that whether we are knocking on strangers doors and asking if they believe in God or injecting narcotics into our bloodstreams, we all have different way of creating meaning for our lives.