Framework 2013 Big Sleep Out

Keith Turney attended Framework 2013 Big Sleep Out on the 28th November 2013 in Sneinton Square. Keith Turney was representing Keyworth and Ruddington Rotary Club. Enclosed is Keith’s account of the evening:

My Prize Winning Structure at the Big Sleep Out

Keith Turney in 'Box Factor'

Keith Turney in ‘Box Factor’

The theme of Framework’s sleep out this year was ‘Covent Garden’ and I made the effort to join in. Covent Garden is famous for two things, the Opera and its fruit market. Don’t worry it was the fruit market theme I pursued. I left the Opera to a trio of talented ladies who entertained us all with unaccompanied recitals using their classically trained voices. For my part I could empty the square with my pub singing efforts.

I made the effort to join in the Box Factor Challenge and my fruit stall turned out to be a prize winner! but bear in mind my den’s ‘Prize Winning Status’ for later on! Being an entrepreneur I made an effort to win a prize and I was glad to learn that you could begin your efforts off site (it’s in the rules). The evening before the sleep out I constructed what I considered to be a sturdy double skin box which was even reinforced by ribs made out of tightly rolled cardboard bound by masking tape. I even added a user friendly detail, if you had read my article last year you will remember I woke up realising my glasses had fallen from where I had perched them and had joined me in the sleeping bag. I did manage to retrieve them intact but I could not rely on such luck again. A design detail brought about by experience resulted in a ‘glasses shelf’ being installed to the back wall of the den. Ribs in place I then constructed the roof of the stall. This too was double skinned and was ribbed to stop it sagging and, of course, it had some weight. Before constructing the supporting legs I gingerly placed the roof onto the box base. My spirits were crushed as the square opening to the box den took on a parallelogram shape in slow motion. Being on my own I could not retrieve the roof quickly enough without distorting or damaging the box section and the ribs were parting from the inside wall. As well as placing too much demand on my construction the cardboard was beginning to weaken as it absorbed moisture from the evening air. Needless to say that concluded my efforts for that evening, and my comments as I switched off the lights were certainly not of self congratulation!

During the following day which was in fact the day of the sleep out, I was on business in North Yorkshire and was very conscious of my half collapsed efforts. One of my visits involved visiting one of my gangs working on site. I am still wondering if my startled client actually understood what I was planning to undertake after I asked him if I could help myself to the cardboard from behind the wheelie bins. With the back of my car crammed with cardboard I headed for home hoping my additional materials and the modification I had in mind would provide me with a viable structure for the event. I reinforced the base with lathes of timber (I know it’s not cardboard, but that had failed remember, only the original bearded one could walk on water and make soggy cardboard stand upright)! Gingerly and with help this time, and after installing the uprights which were a complication in their own right we lifted the roof onto the base and thankfully there was no failure. We dismantled the construction and then borrowed a truck from work to transport it to site. The fruit? (You will remember the theme was Covent Garden) Well, bless Google images, one chooses a fruit and calls it wallpaper and you get a choice of wall to wall lemons, strawberries and so on. The stall is a cardboard replica, I am assuming I was not expected to provide anything other than paper fruit!

It had been a long day up to the point we arrived at the Sleep Out camp just 5 minutes after the gates had officially opened. I spent the evening being snapped with cameras and mobile phones and I even went onto one or two Facebook pages. I wondered if I was going viral. (In my youth in the 70s I would not have admitted to that in case my contemporaries thought it was anti social and/or catching, surprising how the platelets of the English Language move) However, apart from being the object of some attention more rewarding, as in previous Sleep Outs, was the camaraderie which is obvious within the camp. We are there to benefit those whose luck is low or even nonexistent, but we also gain. Wandering around we talk, sometimes being surprised at what mutual friendships we have. There are a lot of young girls there dressed in their ‘Onesies’ and behaving as if they are on a ‘Sleep ‘Over’ not ‘Sleep Out’. I have seen these sights each year, all I can say is these girls are harder than they look and they do the distance along with those of us who are attired for a Polar Expedition. My neighbour was a young woman who, like others, was repaying Framework for the time it provided her with accommodation when she needed it. It would be unfair to repeat what she told me and I will not give her name, but she now lives in a far nicer neighbourhood than she began life and supports her son and is now an employer. She had raised over £550.00 via her Facebook page. It is important to remember that those who benefit from Framework are just like you and I but often have no support network which most of us would assume would be there for anybody. There is also another important item in our lives which we take for granted and which I will describe towards the end of this article. Then came the prize giving and I won the ‘Box Factor’.

I was awarded with a No 7 Toiletries Pack. For those who do not know what that is it contains a face scrub and after shave and such like. I am the original hippy so my 15 year old grandson became the ultimate beneficiary, and he thinks I am ‘well cool’. Earlier I asked you to remember that my effort won a prize. I am from the construction trade and as anybody in the construction trade will tell you, Award Winning Designs can prove to have useless practical detailing. At 3.30 a.m. I understood the original meaning of the term ‘well cool’.

View from within the den with no door

View from within the den with no door

Because I had not provided a front door to my den, (in previous years my constructions resembled mounds which were ‘closed off’ after I crawled in and were therefore warmer or less cold to be in) the searching early morning late autumn breeze regularly washed over my face, even with my head at the far end of the den from the opening, but I was tired so tried to ’sleep it out’. I slept , woke, slept, then came a period when for an hour I put off a visit to the loo, hanging on to my tiredness in order to gain more sleep, necessary to get me through the following day (later on that day I should say!). The moment came when the visit to the loo could not be put off any longer and I knew that when I was up I would be up for the day.

At 4.30 a.m. three of us stood shivering at the tea/sandwich caravan. The camaraderie is even strong at this time and we make a laugh of it. “A bacon sandwich, tea and a hot water bottle” I order, the others laugh in sympathy “I can do the bacon sandwich and the tea my sweet”. This lovely woman was good natured last night and having had no sleep because her role was to be available for nourishment throughout the night, remains nice natured, (not natural if you ask me) “That will have to do” I reply.

Fortified and slightly warmed by our early breakfast we are talking when suddenly the shape and the direction of the gust of wind raises and lowers discarded polystyrene cups and paper from the night before. There was a sea wave of vulnerable looking polythene and tarpaulin coverings and some corners strained and began to fail. A site wide groan soon followed this gust, and so too were some half asleep screams as a number thought their dens were about to fail around them. “That woke a few” I commented. 15 minutes later there is a constant slamming of sprung loaded portaloo doors being let go as the occupant perhaps now more awake than when they went in gingerly re-entered the outside air, drawing their bedding up as far as their chins and around them as they walked around the square. By 5 a.m. there was a long queue for the sandwich and tea caravan. The square was awake! Social groups sat in circles cross legged in their torn dens waiting for 7 a.m. to come, the official end of the sleep out, quieter than the night before but having completed a mission.

My prize winning structure being recycled in the morning

My prize winning structure being recycled in the morning

I will be at the Sleep Out again next year. So why do I want to do it? For the crack to begin with, but my neighbour for the evening reminded me of a reason. I am a male, and therefore familiar with the loss of my keys, and like most males I don’t know what agency is responsible for hiding them, I never find them where I last left them (who is pig headed – moi?) Losing keys can be infuriating. The temperament is not helped when your beloved comes out with that immortal phrase which must exist through different languages and cultures, “where did you last see them?” For the sake of decency I will paraphrase the usual reply “If I knew the answer to that my dear, I would not be asking…..WOULD I?’ But occasionally some of us have lost our keys and it is upsetting. It is as if you had provided uninvited access for somebody into the world which you cherish, your fort against the outside world. Imagine though that you do not possess a front door key, that you have no place to think, to rest, no nest. Worse, imagine you have children who need you for support, guidance and nourishment and you cannot provide that.

Framework is about supporting those who, through no fault of their own, find themselves without something, or about to lose something which gives the rest of us that mental base, a place where we can make our plans, recharge our batteries, laugh, cry, relax, decorate according to your taste, a place you can organise in your own way, a space where you form and nourish your identity and to have your own thoughts in private, that place is the home. What if you have no home and no key to symbolise this. A key is about dignity as well as about the necessary material things a person or a family needs.

I will end with Framework’s own tag line. “I slept out and raised money in order that others don’t have to”.

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Posted in: Keyworth and Ruddington