A blessed life outdoors | The Islington Twins

By Redactie See All This | March, 2024

Chuka and Dubem Okonkwo, ‘The Islington Twins’, have called London their home ever since they were born at an East London hospital in 1962. Now, the impeccably dressed brothers live on its streets. To master their situation, they live by their own  set of rules. Exclusively for the new winter issue of See All This ‘Make yourself a home’, they documented their daily lives and routines.



NOBODY PLANS to be outdoors in London, spending time with the sky as their roof and the ground as their floor, constantly at the mercy of the wind, rain, snow or hot sun; not when they can be in the comfort of indoors. Alas, things can happen in this life. Our answer to anyone who wonders how we ended up dwelling outdoors is simply this: It happens to some, but not to all; it can happen to anyone, but it doesn’t happen to everyone. During our time outdoors we have followed certain principles, rules and ways of thinking and behaving:

I. Act as a training consultant at all times irrespective of what people may think.
II. Never address members of the public unless they speak to us first.
III. Never ask anyone for anything or speak of lack or hard times.
IV. Keep away from offers of help from homeless charities, the council and the state – kind and well-meaning as they are – and rely solely on one’s inner power to attract whatever is required. What these bodies offer is for the vulnerable, and we are not vulnerable. We are training consultants offering a mental fitness service for corporate bankers and lawyers.
V. Keep where we sleep at night and stand during the day clean by leaving both areas spotless in the morning and evening when moving from one area to the other.

Whenever anyone asks if we are homeless, this is our reply: Life sets the examination. We are temporarily, outdoors, not homeless. There’s a difference. Outdoors states exactly where you are: outdoors. Homeless states what you are. We are not homeless; we are training consultants.

The Islington Twins, foto: Chloe Dewe Matthews voor See All This


We are not outdoor people in the slightest; we are indoor people. We do not share the love and affection that many have for being out in the fresh air; leaving one’s home to go for a stroll in the park or round the block has simply no appeal. When indoors, we don’t leave unless we’re going shopping, seeing friends or visiting galleries and museums. In March 2020 a combination of the pandemic and lockdown meant we found ourselves spending our entire time outdoors (24 hours every day for weeks and months) without any sign of things coming to an end. (Between 22 March 2020 and 12 December 2022 we spent 11 weeks indoors.)

In our opinion, to spend 24 hours of each day with the sky as your roof and the ground as your floor, puts one in a position to understand the challenges posed by such an existence. If you want to feel what it’s like to be outdoors then forget about spending a few nights in a sleeping bag; do it properly. Doing it properly means existing without any state support or help from the council, no Universal Credit or begging cup for spare change from empathic members of the public, and no assurance that on a given day you’re guaranteed access to finance. The real outdoor experience is the uncertainty of the present and the unknown future promising much of the same.

Eating and sleeping outdoors, reading and studying outdoors, doing everything in the open. There’s no daily shelter, e.g. a library or public space, in which to hide from the elements during the day till the night falls. Rain, sunshine, snow or wind, all have to be borne and the challenge is to make the best of the situation by guarding one’s mental environment. 




Read the whole story of The Twins and learn about their daily routine in See All This #32.
Order the issue here >

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