PEACEFUL AND SPIRITUAL
James Harte is a longtime fan of bands such as Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple, but it’s the human and humane simplicity of Cat Stevens’s 1970 album Tea
for the Tillerman that gets his top vote. “I was only about 13 or 14 years old when I started to listen to Cat Stevens’ music. He always came across to me as being both peaceful and spiritual. Because some of the words of these songs, he actually shows he cares.”
To care: it’s a verb that Harte uses a lot. His favourite track on the album is Wild
World. “She’s going out there into the world for the first time and he’s telling her to be careful because you can’t ‘get by just upon a smile’. It’s a moving lyric, because in the song he actually shows he cares very much not just for her, but actually for her safety. That comes across crystal clear in the song.”
Harte currently lives in a flat in Dublin. There are no cooking facilities so he continues to avail of the services at Merchants’ Quay.
Mercifully, he hasn’t had to sleep rough in
“When they sat around and cooked, if one family hadn’t got enough, they shared with another family. That’s the way they were, you know?”
more than a decade. But he still finds himself haunted by the spectre of homelessness – “It was the first time I could understand that word stigma” – and will be thinking this Christmas of those currently without a place to call their own. He wishes Christmas was less about money and more about the birth of Jesus in a stable. “I do believe in God. Sometimes I’d even get angry with God as well because of the situation I’d find myself in. And not just for me. I’d see certain things out there, you know, like people on the streets and other things, and the way certain people are treated as well.”
He feels there is something scandalously unchristian in the fact that “to have a good Christmas now, you have to have money in your pocket”.