Thursday 12th July 2012, Dean Street, London
I bumped into Terry outside a restaurant while I was having a cheeky fag. Up until then, I'd been winning the ongoing war against the vicious weed, but a few drinks caused me to concede this particular battle.
Terry was trying to raise enough money to stay in a hostel for the night. He had a new job but wasn't due to get paid for a while. I've heard the story a thousand times, but for some reason I believed Terry. He was charming, eloquent and smart. I asked if he was sober and he told me that he had been for a long time. He described how his commitment to staying off the booze had proved to be a turning point in his life and he talked candidly about the evils of addiction. I stood there with a 4 day hangover and asked him how he managed to succeed. I think Terry sensed that I was looking for help. My own relationship with alcohol isn't always plain sailing.
I finished my cigarette and headed back to my table and proceeded to get very, very pissed. A few hours later, Terry's name flashed up on my phone – did I really give him my number? – but I ignored it. I was scared of that conversation.
The next day I played back Terry's message and he seemed genuinely concerned and keen to help me. Don't forget, Terry had no idea about my recent predilection for shelling out huge wads of cash to complete strangers. Nevertheless, I surprised myself by feeling very little suspicion or cynicism. I just felt a compelling urge to give Terry a chance and before I knew it, I'd called him back and arranged to meet.
Terry's had an incredibly rough ride. He's endured stuff that isn't really appropriate to describe here, but somehow he's remained positive. I listened to his tale and offered him the envelope stuffed with cash. I know that sounds a little crass; money can't change what has gone on in the past, but perhaps it can help to make a fresh start. Terry doesn't have access to email, so there's no Q&A, but he said he plans to use the cash to pay his rent, buy a new pair of shoes and perhaps even take a trip back to Ireland to visit his family. I hope we stay in touch; I'd love to see how this one pans out.