TELEVISION / BRIEFING: If paradise is half as nice

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The Independent Culture
Lager can in hand, Gerry sings 'Roamin' in the Gloamin' ' while beside him Peter paints a mural on a bare corridor-wall. This is a typical scene from the bizarre life of Arlington House in Camden Town, north London, Europe's largest hostel for homeless men, as captured in WHAT DO YOU EXPECT - PARADISE? (9pm C4), Rex Bloomstein's engaging contribution to the 'Gimme Shelter' season. Inevitably, some residents appear to have been released from other institutions for 'care in the community'. Theft is so rife that the figurines gathered round a Nativity crib have to be locked in a glass case to prevent them being 'kidnapped'. But overall the film serves to contradict the stereotype of the homeless man as a drunken illiterate. Peter the painter quotes Rembrandt on the art of self-portraiture: 'I sense all the misery in my face'. Seamus, an articulate former chemist and property dealer, says he can cope with Arlington House because it is not dissimilar to the public school he attended. And an Ulsterman called Joe eloquently explains the effect the murder of 15 of his friends had on him: 'the true homelessness is within yourself; I've never felt at home anywhere in the last 20 years'. Touches the heart as well as the mind. (Photograph omitted)