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‘Ask their name. Remind them they are a human being. Just ask their name’


London born, Canadian raised author Peter C. Mitchell earned his degree in English Literature and is a business journalist whose exploration of Corporate Social Responsibility resulted in his examination of social ills, and in turn studying his great, great grandfather Sir John Kirk’s biography of Victoria-era London and Kirk’s support of the causes of children, the disabled, and the working poor. RUDE AWAKENINGS FROM SLEEPING ROUGH is the author’s real-life personally experienced living as an ‘unhoused’ or ‘homeless’ person of the streets. It is a call to action and a diatribe against the ‘charitable institutions’ that fail to alter the cycle of poverty around the world.

Peter opens this jarring but eloquently written ‘memoir’ with a Preface depicting insight into the dire life our unhoused people face: ‘I woke up in St. James Park this morning to find a man masturbating over me while I slept. Bizarrely, my first reaction was “Thank God
it’s not a cop.” The harsh reality of what I had woken to quickly became evident; but by that point the pervert had tucked himself back into his track-pants and was running away…This wasn’t the first disturbing incident I’ve faced since I found myself in the streets of London, and likely it won’t be the last. I have received self-defense lessons from friends in the homeless community and can defend myself enough to buy time and run from a situation…’

In this dramatically intriguing book Peter presents his origins and childhood and university time in Canada and his move to London to explore writing a book about Sir John Kirk’s drive for revealing the truths about the failures of organizations to address the real needs
of the victims of poverty. His life hit a snag when proof of citizenship uncovered errors that eventually forced Peter out of employment and income and placed him on the streets, penniless. In his writing, Peter makes the life of the homeless vivid. Example, ‘You make a valiant effort to stay clean and presentable, but if too proves a battle you are destined to lose. You master the unique and time consuming art of public toilet bathing; hiding in a stall in your underwear waiting for the facilities to clear, then dashing to the sinks for a splash of water and a squirt of soap, then dashing back to the stall to wash one body part at a time. Invariably, someone catches you mid-dash and you wince at the look of sheer contempt they throw in your direction. It is a look you grow to learn well.’

It should be imperative that everyone read this book. It is a call to action to truly address the plight of the indigent, the homeless, the disadvantaged, the disenfranchised – whatever moniker we have assigned – and having fully addressed the tragedy, correct it!
‘Everybody sees the homeless; several study them; but few truly listen to them. People, whether their intentions are noble or narcistic, add to the din with their self-appointed missions to “raise awareness.”…they all publicly congratulate themselves for giving the homeless a voice. With all due respect to the noble, it’s crap. Pure self-aggrandizing crap.’ Read this book for the pleasure of exceptional writing, but take away the message, the plea, for change. Very highly recommended.

~Grady Harp