Last week I got into a conversation with a homeless man I’d seen many times before, but never really spoken to. Scott Hadlow, a man with blond tousled hair and a limp, was sat at one of his usual spots: a warm air vent on Brasenose Lane, where for many he is probably little more than a brief prick of the conscience en route to the Radcam. After speaking generally about his life, from growing up in South Africa, to smuggling Khat – a natural stimulant legal in parts of Africa – to finally breaking his leg at 23 in collision with a car, he said he’d be happy to write a piece on how he came to live on the streets of Oxford and on his current situation.
My Dad who was from Northern Ireland, whom whilst serving in the British Army met with my mum, whom at that time in her life was known as Debbie Allman. But after I was born and my dad moved my surname changed to Hadlow. So I’m now known as Scott Hadlow. I’m not sure if my surname is from Ireland or England as I never got the chance to ask my Dad as when I was 18 months old my Dad, who was a fitness fanatic and serving in the British Army at that time, took me and my mum to South Africa to join the army but sadly when I was two he got shot in Angola and I lost my Dad.
Me and my mum carried on living in South Africa but when I was about 6 we came back to Folkestone where I started my schooling and where me and my mum lived with my nan Betty up until I was about 9 and we returned back to South Africa. Here I did the rest of my schooling where I was forced to learn Afrikaans – the old version of Dutch with a small amount of German.
Even now, living in Oxford at the night shelter at O’Hanlon House and living as a beggar, I often speak to people from Holland and Belgium so I have one clever thing that most people cannot do – being bilingual in another language which is made up of a few languages.
I’ve now been here seven years living in Oxford. Two years ago I was attacked which resulted in an aneurysm bursting at the back of my brain. I now have six aluminium coils wrapped around it to stop it bleeding. I’m lucky to have survived, as most people die.
Also where I was hit on my left cheek bone it caused an infection and during my first operation the infection pushed my throat to the side and I stopped breathing, so 4 tubes attached to an oxygen tank were used to help me breathe, so now I have a scar across my front. I have metal plates from knees to ankles in both legs, and my right leg being about 4 inches shorter than my other leg where I have an insole in my trainer because of shortness which affects my hip and lower part of my back. So I live suffering in chronic pain and in the winters I suffer that and the way my life has gone is the reason why I’m addicted to pain killers (i.e. morphine and codeine).
I’ve got to cut this short so I can go back to my begging spot outside Blackwell’s and the alley of Turl Street to meet the man who will be publishing the story of how I came to have a life on the streets.
So my finishing of words will be please carry on helping the homeless, go back to looking after them like people of Oxford used to. Anyone can land in that position, so please help.
Scott Hadlow’s full story is available in My Story, written by homeless and formerly homeless people of Oxford, and sold in Blackwell’s bookshop.