The Caveman of Kingsgate
"IT'S not a cave, it's an alcove, you can't call it a cave," he said.
I'd found him on the cliff-top shelter opposite from the Fayreness Hotel – a desolate figure wrapped in two hooded sleeping bags, wind beating over his shoulders, a backpack at his feet.
He'd had his back turned to the ocean like a broken Canute.
Maybe he'd been sleeping or just wary but it had taken a few minutes before I drew him into conversation.
"It's finished, it's finished," he told me several times, "life in this country is finished."
Some of what he said was incoherent. The wind boomed over much of the rest.
He said his name was John Wojcieszek, but that his surname had originally been Crawford. He was 68, a former ironmonger, who'd been sleeping rough for 18 years.
"When I first started out it was harder but it's much better now," he added.
Beside him was a Tesco carrier bag, the handles flapping like crazy in the wind. Every day, he said, he'd walk to Cliftonville to buy food from the supermarket.
Inside the bag was a bread roll, crackers, something wrapped in paper. A bottle of lemonade was on the bench.
John grew up in Edinburgh and Perth in Scotland, before travelling through England.
Last year he was kicked out of a hotel in Cliftonville.
He's slept rough in London's parks, in Ireland, in Great Yarmouth and other spots.
The alcove in Botany Bay has been his bedroom for about eight months.
"I check for new places sometimes but they're just not about any more. There were two shelters in Palm Bay, but they knocked one of them down," he said, peeking out from the hoods of his chrysalis.
He resembled Ben Gunn from Treasure Island with a beard, sun-varnished skin and long fingernails.
He pointed his forefinger out of the mouth of his cocoon to emphasise what he was saying about the nook where he sleeps.
"It's the only shelter. I've not got much gear, only two sleeping bags but the way the ground is in the alcove, you have got no use for a camping mat."
John blamed the inclement weather on global warming and the destruction of the ozone layer.
He said: "You have got no idea how it used to be. It wasn't this cold in the spring. In May it used to be warm and people would be out on the beach playing."
I was unable to follow all of John's observations.
When I asked him how he'd fallen through the cracks to live inside a rock, he seemed unable to say.
A light flashed in the conservatory of the Fayreness and John said they were taking pictures in there.
Maybe they were having a party, maybe they were having a get-together.
He refused to have his face photographed, when I asked.
He would screw it up in shiny creases like a clenched glove when I asked him things, shaking his head.
"People do talk to me," he said, in response to one question, "but I just ignore them."
Inside his bags he was clutching a watch and, as we'd been speaking for some time, I asked him the time.
John said he was waiting for it to go dark before he could walk down the cliff path to the alcove. He didn't tell me the time.
He said there wasn't anything else he wanted to say. "It's all finished," he said, "that's it. That's all I have to say.
"There's no point in all this about Dreamland and whatever.
"It's all finished."