By Morgan Lauer
We settled into our lovely flats in London on Friday night after a long day of travel and getting lost in the city for three hours (lol). Yesterday, a few of us explored the fascinating city of Camden, where many famous bands and musicians started off, including Amy Winehouse and Oasis. I instantly fell in love with the town due to its unique scene of art, music, and mouth-watering food.
We were delighted to find out that we were going back to Camden for an Unseen Tour by a former homeless man named Mike. He took us to Primrose Hill, which is a quaint area near Camden. It was a very cute and quiet town, and he explained that there was also a strong sense of community in Primrose Hill. The residents make almost every decision for the town such as the stores and restaurants that can go in. It reminded me very much of my hometown, Harbor Springs, where we focus on buying locally and chain restaurants and stores are forbidden.
Mike then went on to inform us of the numerous celebrities that have and currently reside in the community such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law, Chris Martin, Kate Moss, Daniel Craig, and HARRY STYLES (AHHHHH). It felt so cool to be in the places where we see photographs in the media of these famous icons. My fan girl mode was definitely switched on today as I was on high alert just incase I
happened to passed by another celebrity.
Mike told us his story of being homeless and how he rose up from it. He began in the engineering business, eventually being promoted to a leadership position where he was making a very good amount of money. When the recession hit in the early 2000s, it took a huge toll on Mike and his life changed dramatically. After all of the hard work he had put in to becoming successful, he refused to let himself hit rock bottom, so he moved to Vietnam to teach. There, he made a stable life for himself, but then became very sick to the point where he was hospitalized for some time. When he was finally able to leave the hospital he found himself with a large medical bill and unable to start working in the same field again due to timing. He ended up having to sell his most prized and sentimental possession to pay off the medical bill. He moved back to London and tried to sign up for unemployment but was denied. He then realized that he had no choice but to live on the streets. He did this for a few months before he was taken in by a local charity and began working at “Unseen tours.” He was put up in a flat in Primrose hill and currently resides there. He is now living a secure life. He also mentioned that even though he still did not make much money, he was happy. After everything he has been through, he was able to rise above it all to be happy once again.
Mike was someone that I will never forget. Even being at the lowest point in life, he still had incredible experiences. He spoke to us about his worst times so easily, which most people cannot do. He proved to me through his positive spirit that money does not bring ultimate happiness.
This being my third visit to London, over the last few days I have fallen in love with the city once again. I am grateful to be able to spend two more weeks here!