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Posted on 30th May, 2013

Spider,

the homeless Northampton rogue.

 

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Spider, the homeless Northampton rogue, with Roxy the dog.When you hear that Spider (the 'designer tramp') has spent half of his 50 years in prison, including time for armed robbery, you might be forgiven for thinking that he's undeserving of any help from society. As is not uncommon with those who've experienced homelessness however, there's great complexity behind the headline, but a complexity which simply boils down to 'there but for the grace of god....'.

 

His father was in the marines, but whenever on leave, was always arguing with Spider's mother. Worse than that, he beat her. Not surprisingly, this resulted in Spider's mother leaving the family when he was just 6 years old. His father took in lodgers, but they abused Spider. There was never any food in the house, and Spider was forced to beg to survive. Begging developed into stealing, and he was put into care when aged 10. The stealing habit was by now entrenched however, and Spider was therefore incarcerated at just 13 years old.

 

After 6 months, he was released to a foster home, but to Spider it felt like an extension of a young offenders institute. He therefore went on the run, homeless, and sleeping rough. He fell into even worse company, further compounding his appalling early-life problems. Now into drink and drugs, the petty stealing became armed robbery, and Spider eventually ended up in Dartmoor for a 20-year stretch. Ironically, it was during this sentence that he achieved the height of his fame, as well as notoriety: he was the subject of a prison photo-shoot, for The Big Issue and the Olympus camera users magazine, by a certain David Bailey.

 

Considering how deeply Spider had been sucked into the underbelly of society, it's probably no surprise to know that he's now in a repeating circle of prison, release to homelessness and sofa-surfing, crime, and prison again. All is not bad news however, as the gravity of his crime has reduced significantly. He's cut his alcohol-intake greatly, has kicked his heroin habit, and is fighting hard to finish with methodone. Not only that, but he's just taken a practical step that he hopes will bring him a legal income: he's obtained a dog, Roxy, which he aims to breed with a Blue Staffordshire Terrier, to produce very saleable pups. It's an imaginative idea, and one that I hope will succeed, because Spider really does want to break out of his vicious circle. And considering how his terrible early life, that he had no control over, has shaped so many of his 50 years, I believe he deserves that break.

 

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