Cambridge was not well known for producing famous people; perhaps the most well known person in Cambridge was an inhabitant of Main Street, Mike Pirrit. The only problem was that many people knew of him for the wrong reasons – busking, sleeping rough and his arrest. Others knew his story and respected him for what he had been through. He himself had achieved his goals in life, everyone sets goals in life and his was to ‘make it through’, his proof was the fact that he sat on the side of the road each and every day.
Mike had been abandoned on the side of the street as a baby, but at this stage, obviously was nameless. He lived unhappily at the local orphanage for the next twelve years, refusing to accept the rejection that he had suffered from his parents. His parents are still unknown to this day and the surname “Pirrit” was chosen by Mike himself, not that many people knew it. Mike and the orphanage searched long and hard for a foster family for him, they had no success.
With staying in the orphanage out of the question, for Mike it seemed like taking to the streets was his only option. So, at the age of twelve, he left the orphanage with one set of clothes and a tin whistle. The tin whistle had been found with Mike and he taught himself how to play it, it was his prised possession. This is when he set his goal of making it through life, with dignity and without stealing or cheating.
His ‘home’ was near Richardson’s Park in the centre of Cambridge, where he met his lifetime companion, Miles. There were many stray animals fighting between themselves and against humans for food. Miles and Mike teamed up and managed to scrape themselves a semi-decent meal every couple of days. In his early 20’s, Mike new the streets of Cambridge like the back of his hand and he put his knowledge to good use with his job as a ‘paper-boy’.
Mike’s job was more for Miles than for him, as Miles was carried around in the paper bag. Every once in a while, Miles would jump out of the bag with a paper and contribute to the work by helping with deliveries. How a stray dog was so well trained was unknown to near enough everyone.
In 1974 when Mike was 29, Miles was killed in a road accident, this lead to his downfall. With insufficient discipline as a child, no father figure to look up to and little guidance, merely a push in the right direction, who can blame Mike for his actions. The man that hit Mike’s only love was thrown out of his car and beaten.
This lead to five years imprisonment for Mike. Where he refused to socialise in the slightest, he kept himself to himself and got on with life. The other prisoners were unfamiliar with the tin whistle and wanted to learn how he got this talent, but still no signs of socialising from Mike. His five years were playing the tin whistle and learning to read and write, but he would only use these qualities when writing letters to Miles. Some wondered if he would ever stop denying Miles’ death, but the saddest thing was that Mike was always waiting for a letter in reply.
In prison, Mike met one man who he believed was different to the rest, he believed Scott was worth the effort. Scott’s parents had died when he was young and he had fought his way through life, shifting from foster home to foster home. Mike and Scott got along well and they seemed to enjoy each other’s company.
When Mike’s time was done, he was sad to see the back of Scott, but at the same time pleased to be free. He was convinced that everyone was out to stop him reaching his goal, which made him more determined than ever.
He started his life again unemployed; the few pounds a week that he made were from busking on Main Street. To be fair to Mike, he made more money than the average busker, but his musical skills were also much higher than the average busker.
As Mike became more and more well known, the owner of the orphanage he once lived at caught up with him. Dion felt guilty for letting Mike escape and take to the streets, so the first thing he did was to offer Mike a place to stay. Mike rejected the accommodation and after some persuasion, accepted a job.
The job involved loading and unloading delivery vans at Dion’s shop. The pay was poor but the work was easy, he made enough to feed himself and that was what matter to him. Mike continued to work at the shop for several years, until living on the streets for many years finally caught up on him. Thousands of nights on the pavement would be enough to destroy any man’s back and the malnutrition he suffered gave him arthritis. This obviously destroyed his working days.
Mike went back to the far end of Main Street near Richardson’s Park, which had served him so well and as a place he could call home. Now with bad lungs, Mike struggled to play his precious tin whistle at all. This not only meant that his only known talent was now wasted, but that his little income was now no income.
His only means of survival was the money which he had saved when he was employed, this was little. Mike spent the rest of his days on Main Street, suffering abuse from youngsters and slowly using up the remains of his savings. He was looked down upon by many and known by all, but he knew that he had made it, and he was proud.
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