Every week in The Big Issue magazine, a Big Issue vendor tells their story in our My Pitch column. This week 55-year-old Ian Duff, who sells the magazine at Union Street in Bath, talks about his last day before returning to life as a chef and why that means his beloved pet pointer springer Boycie will be retiring too.
This week was my last week as a Big Issue vendor. I start full-time work on July 7 at The Pack Horse in a place called South Stoke in Bath.
I had a trial the Saturday before and that went really well. I went in and I worked the evening shift, it was pretty cool. I found it a bit weird being back in a commercial kitchen because I hadn’t actually worked in one for 18 years. It was a little bit unusual because I didn’t think I would be doing a shift, I just thought I’d be there observing so I’m glad I went there prepared. I was only on starters so it wasn’t too hectic. But it was good to be there – I felt like I just fit in straightaway. I was really excited to get started but a little bit nervous about getting back into it.
I got a little bit bewildered with the business 18 years ago and went into the pub trade. That was out of the pot and into the fire really. I went into pub management and did that for eight years but even then I was in the kitchen half the time. I didn’t leave because I didn’t want to be a chef anymore. I left because I wanted a career change and to do something different, although that didn’t pan out.
I decided to start later rather than right away because I didn’t want to leave without telling all my regulars that I was going. I obviously told them I’d had interviews before that but I wanted to let everyone know that me and Boycie weren’t going to be there. It was mainly for Boycie’s sake because everyone would have felt like Boycie had died or something.
I think Boycie is one of the main reasons I’m leaving. He’s getting really old now – he’ll be 15 in November – and I don’t think he will last another winter outside. It’s well overdue. He has been selling The Big Issue – it’s not me people come for, it is definitely the dog – for well over 13 years now so it’s time he retired.