or Cathy's Not Come Home
Lulu with small daughter and baby arrives at a huge derelict urban hospital squat (8"). It's in a rundown state and many of the inmates are uncouth. She asks of two ill favoured doorkeepers to be taken in and is admitted.
A scene of desolation meets her eyes. Marble has been nicked from the grand entrance hall. Dripping water. Further into the former hospital, an issue of Salvation Army blankets is taking place. She joins the queue and picks up a few.
Further on again, in kitchens down a dark passage, she finds communal cooking in progress, heat provided by dismembered pallets in the vast hospital kitchens. Vegetables from street market gutters. Two men come to blows when one is about to add a rabbit he's picked up somewhere, thus making it nonvegetarian. Lulu is unfamiliar with cooking for forty but offers some culinary tips which are resented.
She sits down to wait for something to eat, alarmed by this unruly bunch of people. A 'simple guy' offers friendship which gets on her nerves. A young woman tells her she'll have her children taken away by social workers if she stays here. It happened to her. 'Want to share my room? The door bolts. Quite an advantage here.' In the cold light of dawn it seems even less attractive than last night.
Lulu is seeking help at the Housing Assessment Office (2"). Chaos, queues. Tired officials are trying to establish whether she and the children are 'really' homeless, i.e. homeless in a form that fits the official criteria of being eligible for help. Why can't she go back to her home town? She explains it contains a violent ex husband. But she's also worried because life at the urban hospital squat is not right for the children.
She is told it is not council policy to accept people as statutarily homeless outright. 'However, if you wouldn't mind waiting a few minutes, we may be able to admit you to emergency accommodation while we make further enquiries.'
She's arriving at the council emergency accommodation. It is a series of former wartime army diphtheria isolation huts (10"), built on stilts out from the side of a slope which is grassy in summer, muddy in winter, to which the council, in their wisdom, have added substandard caravans to offer further accommodation.
It is dusk and inmates crowd around her, mainly women and children and some men. 'She must be the new one for B7.'
B7 is a fairly self contained flat in one of the huts. The electricity and water are turned off. Inmate women try to help her turn these on. Lots of sparks and - 'Quick, hide, the warden's coming! Hide! He goes mad if he sees you mixing with the electric.' It isn't the warden but an ex police superintendant calling about someone's alleged misuse of a Visa card. When the alarm is over they carry on trying to fix up water supply with hose from a standpipe. No water comes at first and then too much. The hut is filling up fast. The warden is once again said to be approaching. 'Oh no, this time it really is the old bugger!'
Lulu with baby in the pram doing the long walk down a narrow country road without a pavement, and crowded with traffic, to a garage to do the shopping. Other inmates and, walking with them pushing another pram for support, is Andrea, a young woman, very pregnant; 'You look as if you might be having a baby quite soon.'
Andrea: 'Yes, about two weeks.'
Lulu: 'How long have you been here?'
Andrea: 'A week and a little bit. I was in a bed and breakfast before.'
One of the other women, Mandy, comments; 'Andrea didn't have any mattresses or anything when she moved into her caravan. I said, you know, she could stay down mine for the night till she got something to sleep on, you know. That's how bad it is, or was in her caravan like.'
They are sitting round in the laundrette. Talk of 'the prowler' who occasionally appears, or is said to appear, to terrorise the mothers, especially those that have not got men with them. Some say they don't believe in the prowler.
In another part of the isolation huts, a young man called Jeff says he'd like to travel to another part of the country to look for work, but his girlfriend doesn't want to leave this area where she grew up. He shows Lulu deep draughty holes in the floor and introduces her to the pets and fungus.
A group of local professional people are trying to set up a play centre here, so the children can have somewhere to play. Lulu gets involved.
Some of the mothers have found a number of flats and houses empty in town and try to trace the owners to ask if they can live in them. A 'focaliser' appears from the Fill the Empties Campaign.
The playgroup materialises and local wives come in to help. There is a small problem when Lulu asks the vicar's wife about empty rooms at the vicarage.
A sighting of the prowler. Relief for everyone when it turns out to be Lulu's former husband! For everyone, that is, except Lulu. He has discovered where she is and his arrival presents her with conflicting feelings. After weedling and attempting to get the children on his side, he becomes violent and is sent packing by Lulu helped by other inmates. But now he knows where she is, she no longer feels safe. In a disagreement with the warden, she blows her top.
Two officials are approaching, discussing how it's becoming increasingly impossible to find anywhere to put homeless people; they are bumbling, helpless, powerless to do much in the shadow of government restrictions, come to tell her that the council have decided they cannot accept responsibility for her since she 'moved voluntarily from her home town'. They have however arranged with her original local authority to accept her as officially homeless there, pending further enquiries.
Lulu: 'But I feel terrified of returning to the old place because my ex husband lives there. And I no longer feel safe here.' The officials claim they have considerable sympathy for her, but their instructions are that this council does not have a responsibility to house her. She must go back.
The night before she's due to go, Lulu is very despondent. An inmate tells her that Jeff has decided to leave his girlfriend for a while and go away to look for work. She asks whether he'll give her and the children a lift. And one other thing, can they leave at once. A difficult scene with his girlfriend as she discovers they're going.
Sharing a plate of chips in a Highway Café (2") (or in Jeff's van) she asks him about the child that he's brought with him and learns that his girlfriend is not the child's mother.
He asks her about her children's father. (into flashback...)
A few years before, with Jasper, on the shore or by a tidal river in a car.
The tide is coming in but he, as he cuddles her, is too inspired to notice. At one point he says to her; 'If I ever propose to you it will be in a way that's unexpected.' Now the water is coming up under the doors of the motor.
Lulu: 'Isn't this enough unexpected?'
Sopping clothes hung on the stove to dry. Lulu is getting breakfast in the flat. She looks out of the window to see 'Please marry me' written in huge letters on the opposite wall.
She's being driven by Jasper in a huge lorry. Or alternately, her at the wheel. Voluptuous music from lorry radio.
The lorry pulls up outside a pleasant council flat and, as they go in, she explains (voice over) how life was good for them there. Possibly he was formerly in the army and they already have had problems, like many soldiers' families, when he was demobbed.
Sound as of caged animals. She has a job cleaning in the council offices. The noise comes from out front. It comes from homeless people queueing for help. She finds it disturbing.
'Mother in law', whose flat is being redecorated, is sharing the tiny home. Gets into bed with them. 'Now you two, no funny business while I'm here.' 'Get back onto the sofa, Mum.'
Problems with their garden. Consternation because it is disappearing down a hole in the middle of the lawn. This estate was built on the site of a previous council rubbish tip.
Talking about Jasper's job on the oil rig. He's been involved in industrial action. He's got the job back. Good times lie ahead.
She and the new baby alone.
After discussion, they have decided to buy the council flat, under the Right to Buy Scheme.
Jasper has taken them to live it up at a seaside hotel. He wants her to go round the world with him in a boat he plans to buy, and is disappointed that she won't.
Leaving for work on the rig. Desolate station platform. Other of his workmates catching the same train. All unhappy. Other wives and girlfriends. Feeling they're going back to prison.
Getting to know the neighbours. 'This boy kept getting my daughter over the garden fence. He was more than ten years older than her. The social worker down there said 'If you want to stay sane and to keep your daughter safe, the only thing is to leave.' And the Welfare kept saying they'll do this, that and the other. Which never did a thing, you know.'
Jasper is back. He's asked friends in for a video.
Now that it's theirs, he's embellishing the flat. She's pregnant with another child.
Jasper has lost his job again. They can't keep up with the mortgage payments.
Sometime during the time they're getting used to the idea they may be evicted, a homeless hippy called Mike comes to the door wanting to play something on the Irish whistle in exchange for the price of a cup of tea. It emerges he's with a group living in a van. 'But where do you park?' 'Everywhere really. Where we can. In car parks, fields, you know. Nowhere else to live. I mean, that was the only alternative. I mean, it is a bit rough, you know. You get used to it after a while though.'
'How do you boil up a cup of tea, that sort of thing?'
'Camping stoves. And boiling up your water on an outside fire, you know. For the water there's a river nearby if you're lucky, or in a friendly garage or public animal drinking fountains.'
'Do you all sleep in the van?'
'Yes. On a mattress, or it's two mattresses really. Blankets, carpets, whatever we can get our hands on really. Some people live worse than that, they live in tents, you know what I mean?'
As the day for the eviction from the council flat comes closer, Jasper blames her, becomes violent. 'It was your idea we do the right to buy.'
The eviction is happening. She escapes.
He tries to stop their daughter going with her.
She sits in a nearby street in a bus stop (1"). Her daughter has escaped to join her.
She and the children in a refuge for battered women (2").
In a café (2"), meeting place for a group of very young mothers, still officially at school, sitting with prams full of babies. Love bites on their necks. Talking about love, sex, babies, homes, men.
She is approaching the urban hospital squat we saw at the start of the film. A notice painted on sheets hangs over the entrance; 'For God's sake give us homes' («").
(Time present. Follows One) (20")
In the van with Jeff, Lulu with her two children is arriving in the new town. She books into a private hotel (2"), using a small amount of money she's unexpectedly come into. Jeff tries to have sex with her, or alternately, she tries to have sex with him. Armed with her unexpected windfall, she hopes to solve her own problem of somewhere to live.
At the Estate Agents (or Citizens Advice Bureau) (1«"). She learns that the average price of a home is now well over [œ60,000]. The average first time buyer needs well over an annual income of [œ13,600] to get a mortgage.
A young woman she meets there says; 'It's hopeless, isn't it? I went to my MP. He told me to buy a house. When I came out of his surgery, I stood on the pavement and cried. I wasn't going to cry in front of him.'
At the Flat Renting Agency (1«"), she learns how for families on lower incomes to find a place to rent has become next to impossible, because market pressure has pushed rents sky high. London tenants pay an average rent of œ400 a month.
Jasmin, someone she gets talking to there; 'Every place I went to, all three bureaux, they all wanted a massive deposit. œ750, one in Edgware Road wanted. Another one wanted œ40 but didn't know how long we'd have to wait. There didn't seem any point in giving them œ40 for nothing.'
Tina: 'We looked around for other rented accommodation, but there was no way we could afford it unless we had œ800 for two months deposit.'
Sharon: 'Every place we went in, they didn't want children. People said don't tell them you've got kids, but what's the point of that, they can just throw you out when they discover. Some places tell you to come at six o'clock at night. You travel all the way there and there would be 20 to 30 people or families ahead of you. We'd even leave the kids around the corner. I never realised it was so hard to get a place.'
Against all the odds, she may succeed at finding a rented private flat (3") at this point. It is a private let with very bad conditions. She suffers harassment from her landlord. And the accommodation is not secure. She issues an injunction on the landlord to prevent him harassing her. As a result, she is threatened with eviction. And it is about to be repossessed from the landlord anyway.
'We'd been paying this man, Mr Brown, œ70 a week rent but we didn't know he had it on a mortgage and he'd never paid a penny on his mortgage all that while, so he had no need to evict us, it got repossessed.'
She discovers empty property (2"), including some flats above shops, and tries to find the owners. This brings home to her the scandal of so many properties lying empty when so many people are homeless. Looking over one of them, she meets some hippies who are doing a recce preparatory to squatting. They have discovered that these flats belong to the Department of the Environment.
They say that since she was here first, they will leave it to her if she wants to have it, but they have also heard it was desquatted yesterday, and new tenants may be on the way. She must move fast if she wants it. But she's not into squatting at this point.
Back at the Flat the landlord and five other men are at the flat, threaten her with physical violence, rip out the telephone, strip the flat, bundle her belongings into sacks and change the locks.
'We ended up losing half of all our things because there was no removal van. And now we have to start all over again.'
Paul, a homeless hippy, or possibly Mike who she met before, was part of the group. He lives in a converted bus (2«") and is helping them out with advice about plumbing. He explains he's solved his own housing problem by moving into a vehicle. Why doesn't she do likewise? He shows her the bus. But she's appalled at the idea.
She: 'Don't people have a fairly hostile attitude towards squatters?'
Paul: 'Oh I don't know. Some do, some don't. Depending on what sort of people you meet, what the locals are like, you know. Some people are very sort of understanding towards it all and others, like, are just totally don't want to know really. Horrible to you. But I feel a lot better in myself now to get out of the houses. Definitely, I feel much happier in it. Like, you know, it's mine, I own it. It can go where it wants.'
She (very doubtfully): 'I suppose it's quite homely really, isn't it?'
Across the barricaded counter, we see her and the children at the Housing Assessment Offices II (1"). The bumbling and the chaos of the official attempts to provide for increasing homelessness from an ever decreasing supply of homes.
After a few jerks of the administrative machine, she's allotted a place at the Leisure Fayre Hostelrie (7"), pending further investigation. 'It's quite posh. You'll like it there.' At first sight it does seem quite impressive. It was custom built for the local authority. Glossy welcome brochure. Musak. Bow-tied warden to welcome them. There is a first floor bar with tropical plants. The grounds are landscaped. But other inmates tell her about the drawbacks; how meals, in the canteen, are only at fixed times. There's nowhere for children to play except the corridors and that is not allowed.
She becomes aware of the hotel 'zombies', intimidated, undernourished, and stunned by Largactil.
The claustrophobia and passivity of life in a single hotel room begins to get her down. Worries about the children's education.
She is tiptoeing, leading a man by the hand, smuggling him in.
Meeting a homeless Bengali family. Arrival of two Lesbians plus baby. And a political refugee, in the hotel while Home Office decides his fate.
A doctor prescribing sedative pills.
A local woman finds she can't use the toilets in her local supermarket because of homeless mums changing their babies. 'Haven't you got a bathroom of your own to do that in?' She's shocked by their response and sets up an action group.
Lulu has joined this group of other young mothers who are campaigning for a better deal for homeless people.
It is officially felt that she has become too active and this is held against her and she is transferred to The Punishment Hotel (7").
This is very grotty. There is no canteen. They'll have to live on snacks and take-away. A row about the non existant breakfast. Sitting with her children in a café trying to eke out a packet of crisps and a single cup of tea. After she's paid her contribution for the hotel room, and forgetting the children's need for new shoes or clothes they've grown out of, she has thirty five pounds a week to feed herself and the children. This might just be tolerable if she had a kitchen, but she has nowhere to cook economical meals, and the money works out at 65p per head for each of the two main meals of the day. That means, in terms of take-away, chips or a fishcake, or maybe a shared bit of fish. The kids don't like fish. Like other mothers here she goes short herself so that the kids may have a little more.
'I think we'd feel better if we had a telly. That would take our minds off it all.' She tries to hire a telly and encounters the stigma attached to this place. She's refused credit at local shops. She is given a cheap telly by a charity. Now she can have the telly on of an evening; but now her daughter can't do her homework. And this young girl, Lulu, has learning problems, thought to be product of the stress and uncertainty of their lives here.
Lulu: 'I feel so old, I mean I don't class myself as being young. But - I don't know - I feel so old now, so very, very old - I've just got no idea what it's going to be like if I ever do get a place of my own.'
She becomes friends with Gloria, a lively Anglo-Caribbean girl. They are campaigning for the former hotel kitchens and recreation rooms to be reopened.
As punishment for her campaigning she is put in a very small, or very big, room.
The council does provide a child psychiatrist.
An old friend has come to see her and is sent on by the council but has failed to find her.
On the towpath. She sits, dejected. A boat appears whose uncouth owner asks her to share his bed.
Asking the Council to rent them out the empty buildings that she's discovered.
A guy who has been blackmailed by the owners into bypassing meters in the homeless hotels has been evicted and reports them to the Electricity Board. Electricity Board workers come and switch off the hotel lights as unsafe.
She may get involved with local anger against the blacks who are said to be getting the best houses.
The manager, who claims to be the owner, or manager's son, falls through the ceiling of the bathroom when trying to spy on her. Makes a pass. A number of women corner him. Finally he admits he's not the owner. They demand to see the owner.
Grand appearance of owner. Who is he? Fleet of cars? Indian? Arab? Pakistani? He's asked how he justifies the vast amount of money he makes from the hotel. His reply; 'This money from this hotel is keeping one whole district in Bihar. That is ten villages. That's where my family are. I pay for them to have a water supply. People in this hotel live better than people do in Bihar where we have children dying from polluted water.'
Another interview at the Housing Assessment Centre. The Kafka runaround. 'He left me half an hour in this enormous room with completely blank white walls, a desk and two chairs. The kids were going absolutely potty.'
Another appearance of Paul, the Homeless Hippy. 'Come and join us. Get off the merry-go-round.' 'I can't.' 'Why not?' 'Because if I do, I might lose my place on the Council list.'
In a seaside hotel (2"). A charity has arranged for her and some other hotel families to go on holiday. It serves to underline for her the unhappiness of their ordinary condition.
The Council has completed its investigations and, just like the other one did, decided to liaise with her local council to arrange for her to go back to her home town. Once again she is afraid. She can't face going back but also she can't bear to see the children suffer in the cramped conditions of the hotel room.
She goes to see her Mother in Law, who now has her own flat, and persuades her to take the children for a while.
[Or: She is no longer able to stay in temporary accommodation because she's refusing to go back to her home town. Rather than have her children taken into care, she escapes with the children and leaves them at her Mother in Law's.]
She returns to Punishment Hotel (1"). Without the kids she can't stay.
Alone, she returns to the urban hospital squat (1") which has deteriorated and the people have deteriorated too.
Parted from the children, at a citizens advice bureau (1"), she asks if she could get a loan to pay the first two weeks rent on a room she's found. But she is told that housing benefit is not payable for two weeks, so she will be in danger of losing it.
She's missing the children too much. She goes to get them from her Mother in Law's flat (2") but she, in collusion with the council, states that she has decided it is not in the children's best interest to be allowed back with her for the moment. The council has placed a care order on the children, specifying that the Mother in Law is the person with whom they must remain. While still waiting for this to be sorted out, she loses the accommodation.
She may wander out to a dossers open air squat (3"), a place where many people are sleeping rough and realises she is not alone.
In conversation with someone she meets there, she tells how she is missing the children dreadfully and realising it may be harder than she thinks to get them back.
It becomes clear that she is falling apart.
Out of the mists of her nightmare there emerges Paul again, the young man living in the horsebox. He urges her to join him and says if she does he will come with her to get the children.
In a borrowed car, going to get the children, with Paul. We learn that Lulu has made contact with her children who want to escape to be with her. The plan succeeds. She's got the children back with her (3").
The sea shore, the common lands, the roads, the streets; these places still in theory belong to all of us and so increasingly they are the last resort of homeless people.
Paul, Lulu, her two children and one of his, are all now living in Paul's horsebox. It has been fitted out as a living vehicle quite nicely, and they pass much of the time outside.
There are aspects of life like this which are appalling for her; but it's better than the tragic inactivity of the council hotels. She's glad to have her own front door again, even if it is the front door of a vehicle, not a house. And, of course, it's really Paul's front door, not hers. Paul is gregarious and likes to be with other of these homeless people of the roads. She wants it to be just them in some lonely spot. But he argues that, for security, it's better for them to be with other people.
Now they are being evicted by security officers from a woodland where they, with a number of other homeless people, have taken refuge in caravans, lorries, tents. They are driven out to the road.
In protest some refuse to go further and block the road with vehicles and by sitting down in it.
In anger she turns on Paul; 'You never told me it would be like this.' Paul; 'Listen, it's hardly ever like this. Now take it easy.'
Now she is on foot with a crowd of other homeless being driven by police. There are women with children in prams, other children, some men, pets. They arrive in other woodlands where many living vehicles and tents are now parked among the trees. Paul explains they have an agreement from the landowner here that they can stay for a week. Tired, they are arriving with relief back where they think they will be safe for a while.
Outside their living vehicle, Lulu by an open fire in the woods. The children are playing amid the trees, a short distance away.
Then vehicles and people are crashing through the trees. 'They're coming again!' Adults are shouting for their kids and pets, security officers (or police) are stamping out fires, directing blows at the vehicles. Some parents plead to wait to pick up their children and pets, but are forced to leave without them, desperately still shouting for them as the vehicles move off. Among these is Lulu who is ordered to move the horsebox. Paul is not to be seen.
In another part of the wood her two children, also victims of the general panic, are being driven forward in front of the lines of security officers. People in a vehicle which is part of the queue to leave are discussing animatedly whether to take them as they stand there crying by the road, and finally scoop the children out of harm's way.
Finally they are all gone and a kindly old Quaker appears from the undergrowth, tidying up some of the considerable mess left by the rout.
A face amid the bracken. It is Paul, arriving back to find everyone gone. He has been arrested, taken to a distant police station, released on bail on condition he leaves the county by noon next day. Emerging from the undergrowth, he meets up with a lost child, not his. She tells him about the eviction. The child is frightened and Paul asks if she'd like to come with him. The child, Tina, agrees to come with him for a while. The Quaker befriends them and agrees to drive them to the county border, wishing Paul luck in his search for his wife and children.
Lulu's children, whose names are Cathy and Moonchild, travelling in a vehicle with the folk who rescued them from the wood, are questioned by the grown-ups about who their mother is and where does she live. The children find the question difficult to answer. They are in fact at the end of the same group of vehicles that Lulu is in, although neither knows this. At a roundabout the various vehicles are sent in different directions.
Lulu is reliving in her mind the moment when she drove off in the horsebox and abandoned the children. Her friends tell her 'You had to. If you didn't they'd have trashed you'. But still she feels guilt.
The world of her and her dear ones now feels in some ways rather like that of the stateless refugees after the second world war, a world without telephones, rights, or money. It may be hard for those who have houses, postal addresses, telephones, to realise at once the no-man's land into which these people have been ejected.
Lulu asks passers-by in living vehicles whether they have seen the children. No news. She arrives at an encampment of some ten vehicles and tents. She is asking about the children.
A group of vehicles with which Lulu is travelling parks for the night in a layby just down the road from where, unknown to her, Cathy and Moonchild and their protectors are parked. Next morning one of the children goes for a walk but just before she reaches the layby the other group moves off.
One of the children remembers the name of the town they originally lived in. Someone knows someone who, she thinks, has a telephone contact number there.
A near miss in a fish and chip shop/café. While the children are trying to make a phone call at the back of the café, Lulu comes in and buys chips, then goes out again.
Paul's horsebox is being repaired. Once it's ready Paul says he'll really get going to go and find the children and their mother. It is always nearly ready but never entirely so, causing him much frustration.
A young girl is in danger. Members of an immoral commune who bonk girls when they reach puberty are attempting to move in on her.
Sitting round an old bus, some homeless folk look forward with a certain amount of fear to a time when the dole may not be available as now, and what sort of life will it be for middle aged or old men and women living in tents?
Lulu calls at a traditional Gypsy encampment where a Gypsy goes on at boring length about allegations that Gypsies steal children and how untrue this is. And how the 'dirty hippies' are making things difficult for traditional Gypsies who she claims, despite the evidence around her, to be very tidy.
Someone has a mobile phone. By a vehicle, somewhere along the way, there is a phone call for our mother. It is the children. Just as they are about to say where they are the line goes dead.
She's getting close to a layby where, it seems, her children may be. She arrives to find ash still hot and a kettle with water in it coming to the boil. A police officer arriving on the scene explains they've been evicted and tries to help.
Horse people befriend the mother saying they know where the children are. She travels with them in their barrel top caravan. She is led to children who are also 'lost', but they are not hers. One of them may be Tina who mentions Paul. Doesn't know where he now is.
Possibly our mother visits Tipi Valley in her search for the kids.
Further involvement with homeless people in boats.
Lulu has solved her own housing problem. It's a hillside prefab chalet (5"), very run down but she's doing it up. Other people building their homes in the woods. The site does not have planning permission, and we learn that it is alleged that the chalets are substandard. The District Council is attempting to evict them, even though the County Council has no accommodation for the families it will then have a statutory responsibility to provide emergency accommodation for.
Now the chalets are being bulldozed and their inmates evicted.
Lulu's horsebox is being dumped by the roadside. There is one elderly couple. 'What's going to happen to you?' 'Oh, the council will get us somewhere.' 'I wish I could believe that.' 'Oh, we'll be alright. I'm sorry to go though. It was our home.' Planning Officer: 'I know it's hard on you people but if we allowed you to stay we'd have to allow all the other illegal people, and that we just cannot connive in.'
Although she has always disapproved of squatting, in anger and desperation Lulu joins a group who plan to solve their own housing problems through squatting. They're probably not the same group as before though they may have someone, such as the 'squatting activist', in common. They have located an empty army camp (5") which has been empty for many years. The squatting activist explains how.
Execution of the squat by night. It succeeds. Lulu doesn't know which hers is to be and tears fill her eyes when in the darkness a torch lights up her allocation, a pleasant bungalow.
Some sleep. Others stand guard. Morning. They are worried about retaliation by the police. It is not long in coming; a policeman arrives on a bicycle, smiling. 'There's not a thing we can do about it even if we wanted to.'
At a public well they are filling cans with water. We learn their own water has been cut off. Fences put up around the camp.
A visit from their solicitor. They are threatened with eviction because these empty homes have allegedly been sold for redevelopment. Various attempts to prevent this, including law suits.
Problems of keeping children clean, with insufficient water.
In her bungalow, nonetheless she is happy. It is her dream that when she finally finds the children they can live here anonymously under assumed names, so the care order will not be activated. Noone will know they are here.
The time has come for the eviction (3"). Bailiffs, High Sheriff, police and securicor have come. Television crews are present and journalists. It is obtaining media publicity.
The High Sheriff reads the court order and says a few words. The bailiffs are breaking down doors and babies are crying.
Lulu has come out quite peaceably, only flaring up when a security officer places a hand on her arm.
Now, standing amidst the debris of the squat she's been asked to say a few words for television.
Interviewer: 'But the district Health Authority have made the point that while you have been squatting it this place has deteriorated and got into a considerable mess.'
Lulu: 'Mess - it's the bailiffs who have made the mess. We've been tidying up. We've mended windows. Look at them. We mended all those windows!'
Interviewer: 'They also allege the children are unwashed and dirty.'
Lulu: 'Dirty - who cut off the water? It's easy for the people in houses with water not to be dirty. Look at you. You're beautiful aren't you? Look at you in your poncy suit. Typical man! Yes, we're dirty because we're unwashed. Have you ever tried to wash a child without water?
Interviewer: 'The smells are not very savoury.'
Lulu: 'Flush my toilet for me. Piss in my toilet, you creep!'
She pushes the interviewer into the mud.
Director (to Cameraman): 'Are you still running?'
Cameraman: 'You bet! Wouldn't miss this.'
The interviewer is struggling, rather theatrically, out of the mud and Lulu is thrilled yet appalled at what she's done, while other squatters try to restrain her and others are in fits of laughter.
Interviewer: 'I was merely quoting the Health Authority. Now, from your point of view, is there anything you'd like to say to the many people who are highly sympathetic to your suffering.'
She: 'It's not enough to suffer. We've got to do something that will make things change.' (She speaks to camera): 'Occupy the empty houses. Occupy the empty houses!'
Suddenly, in the light from the television spotlights, there is a cry of "Mum!" and her children run up to her, jumping into her arms. A friend has located them and brought them here.
Lulu is weeping joyfully. Securicor tell them to "Hurry along please", and Mother and two children head for the exit of the camp.
The television spotlights go off and when we last see them, walking towards and past us, they seem like a typical family group of Mother and two children on an outing.
The children are wildly over-excited and joyful at being back with their Mum.
The Mother registers a number of emotions. She's also overjoyed that she's back with the children.
But she's also sobbing because she knows there's no longer anywhere to go. They're on the road to nowhere.
Back on the road, she is being given a lift along a major highway in a decrepit vehicle (3"), possibly by Paul. She has still not found the children.
A long distance bus passes and is travelling in front of them. In the back window of the bus her children, who have recognised her, are waving ecstatically.
She can scarcely believe her eyes. 'Paul, it's the kids! Look!' She's making joyful signs at them, urging her driver to keep up with the bus, shouting to the children to tell the bus driver to stop.
The children are waving and shouting joyfully. Then - the bus is moving away from her - their faces change and begin to recede. Expressions of unbelief and panic. She's yelling at Paul to drive faster. The vehicle has developed a mechanical fault. It is jerking to a halt.
She's already opened the door to shout the better and now, on the busy road, she's gesticulating for the receding bus to stop.
(Roll credits here but in fact the story continues
after the credits as overleaf)
On the roadside she and Paul are having a blazing row as behind them the engine jerks to a halt, and emits a pathetic puff of smoke.
They are too busy with their recriminations to notice faint cries of 'Mum! Mum! It's us!'
The two diminutive figures, who must have persuaded the bus driver to stop, are running back along the verge towards her.
In a car (3"). She and Paul and the children are travelling joyfully. They have been given the keys to a council house.
'Well, they say it's quite nice, but there's nothing there of course, no cooker, nothing, no electric or gas to start with. But it's something. It's a start. It's sleeping bags on the floor tonight, kids, at 1B Maysoul Road.' (She's reading the address off the label on the key).
At 1B Maysoul Road, identified by the street sign on its corner, a group are executing a squat with efficiency and speed. In hardly a moment the door has been forced, basic furniture and a family rushed in, and corrugated iron put over the downstairs windows, the squatters 'Take Notice' sign nailed to the door.
Behind the credits we see the mother, children, and Paul getting closer to the house and our final moments before we go to black could be the front door from their point of view, and them approaching it.
Jeremy Sandford FanClub Archives
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[Jeremy Sandford FanClub]