A man who has lived “like a hermit” underneath a railway arch for a decade insists he chooses to be homeless.
The 53-year-old bloke, only known as Paul, lives in a graffiti clad cave underneath railway lines in Birmingham.
Paul, from a family of 9, told BirminghamLive he chooses to spend his days in squalor.
He has a bed built with scaffolding poles, propped up by beer cans to keep scurrying rats at bay.
He has a washing line suspended above his sleeping area, and uses the sun to tell the time.
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The homeless man said he is happy and free, and claims that he chooses to sleep beside a noisy dual carriageway.
Speaking just outside his pad, which is lined with old newspapers to keep the floor dry, he said he hasn’t seen his own kids since 1993.
He said he “doesn’t think” about life on a day today basis.
He added: “I don't think about it, I just do it. That's the way it is, I've got nothing to say about it.
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“I go to soup runs, a chip shop and Sikhs. Water comes from a tap just round the other side of the bridge.”
Asked how long he has lived under the railway, he explained: “The last five years. I went away for two. And six years before that. So I've been here 11 years.”
And speaking of a new padlock, he said: “The lock has only been there for the past few weeks since lockdown in case people are coming around looking for somewhere for themselves.”
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Paul said he was happy and healthy, and does not take drugs.
The homeless man confessed that he did use to take heroin, but has been clean for eight years.
Explaining why he decided to to live 'differently', he said: “I just did. It just happened. I didn't want to be in an office. A factory. Just sitting there working. I went out and worked on a farm.
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“I wanted to be out working and to see something before I got older.
“I wasn't pushed on to the streets, I chose to be on the streets.
"I don't live in doorways or park benches, I live in tents or places like this, squats, caravans and buses and all that.
“The people you tend to see on the streets now, they're just too lazy to get off their arses basically.
"I know most of the homeless in town, some of them couldn't be arsed to work.”
The bloke, who has six siblings, said his 80-year-old mum still lives nearby.
When asked what advice he would give Boris Johnson, he said: "I'm not a politician. I don't know what to say.
"They're all as bad each other. Give them some power and they change."
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