At the heart of homelessness. Peter Stone, an ex-vendor shares his incredible story of how he found love
I awoke to the sound of a road sweeper. Man, it was cold. I had absolutely nothing at all, and I was all alone in the world. An unkempt young lady on the street took me to a day centre, a place to eat and wash. I was in a desperate world. I didn’t feel able to tell anyone how I ended up living on the streets. I drank tea. I was lost, I was homeless.
Soon I was sleeping out under the footpath to the Tate Modern with a friend – without him I would have not been able to survive. He showed me all the different ways of living on the streets. Eventually he went into rehab and I was alone again. I missed him but I knew this was his best shot.
One cold night under the footway I saw a small bedraggled fox; I threw it a few sandwiches and watched as ‘Foxy’ ate some and then bounded off some distance to eat the rest. For months this went on and each night she would come a little bit closer until eventually she took it from my hand.
We had a mutual respect and when I woke one morning to find her a few feet from me curled up, I welled up. When I moved, she shot off . Night after night this went on until I had to move – the curator had found my little den, and one day when I returned all my blankets had gone. My alcohol dependency had taken over, I was drinking day and night not caring about the damage I was doing to myself.
I was almost always drinking. Many people won’t understand how cold it is for people living on the streets, you feel constantly chilled to the bone. The drink helps. I began walking, looking for hope. I circled London and ended up at Waterloo, and it was here my life would change. On Waterloo footbridge I met a man selling The Big Issue, his name was ‘Peter’ and he was well known by many – he was a homeless helpdesk. We got chatting and I resolved to try selling the magazine.