I used to buy the Big Issue back when it first started, when it was a broadsheet and cost about 50p. But it was a friend of mine who suggested I try selling it, when I was in a night shelter about two and a half years ago. I’d gone off working with some travelers, came back, and became homeless. I used to be in a tent until a man from round the corner, who worked at an estate agents, asked if I wanted to do a bit of [house-sitting} for him. And since then, I’ve been in a flat. It was a top offer.
Prior to all of that, I was a roadie. I used to follow bands around on tour and a friend of mine had a company doing theatre work in Cambridge, unloading the trucks and fixing up big arenas for gigs. This led me into doing guitar technician work, and I worked on a self-employed basis for about 15 years. I was working with bands and performers like Manic Street Preachers, Catatonia, Paul Young. I traveled the world and got paid for it. It was brilliant.
But I’m born and bred here in Gloucester. It’s my home city. I’m standing here, looking at Northgate St. and I do know it really well. It used to be a vibrant little street but since the docks were redeveloped, it feels as though two city centers have been created. There are a lot of closed down shops and not much need for people to venture over here. Slowly but surely, town planners are killing the city. That’s what it feels like anyway.
This year I’d really like to pick myself up and get another job. Selling the Big Issue is one of the hardest jobs I’ve ever had to do, so I wouldn’t mind getting an easier one. But then, a woman came up to me the other day, when I was feeling really depressed, and said, “I see you out in all weathers — you’re a real source of inspiration to me.”
My hours are 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Gloucester goes dead quiet at 3 p.m. My Pitch is Red Circle. I knew this street when we used to be able to drive through it, but it’s all pedestrianized now.
I love selling the Big Issue, but I don’t think people realize what a hard job it is.