I looked after my mum for five years because she had Alzheimer’s Disease and when she passed away I moved in with my partner. We broke up, I had to move out, and that was it basically. I did a bit of sofa-surfing with friends at first but eventually I ended up living under a bridge near where me and my mum used to live. After a while I managed to get a tent and put it up there and that was where I lived for about two-and-a-half years. When it got cold I just piled the sleeping bags and blankets on.
In the end I thought, ‘I’m getting a bit old for this’ so I went into emergency accommodation, which was a B&B, for nearly two years. Then last Christmas I went to my friend’s house. She lives in a block of flats so she called her landlord and he said he had a flat going. I moved in on January 4 this year. It’s coming together slowly but surely.
I’ve been selling The Big Issue for five years on October 1 [Happy anniversary Alan!]. I’ve had this same pitch throughout and I’ve got quite a few regulars now. At the moment my next-door neighbour is a giraffe with pears all over it. It’s a campaign called Standing Tall in Worcester, in aid of St Richard’s Hospice, and there are 60 decorated giraffes all over town. Kids have to mark them off as they find them.
As long as I wake up in the morning and can get out and do what I want to do then I’m happy
This job is my social life. Sometimes I spend more time talking than I do selling, but that’s the way it goes. I really enjoy it. I’d go mad if I’d been stuck in the B&B or my flat. I’ve got about 20 or 30 regulars, sometimes they don’t come for a few weeks but they always turn up eventually. A positive attitude helps. A customer once brought me a big bag of coppers and said it was my lucky day. I said, ‘Every day’s a lucky day as I’m still breathing!’ As long as I wake up in the morning and can get out and do what I want to do then I’m happy.
When my mum was alive I was her full-time carer. Alzheimer’s goes in three stages and I moved in with her when she was midway through the first stage. It progressed and she gradually got worse and worse so in the end I was doing everything. I’m pipe fitter by trade but I gave that up to care for my mum. After five years of not doing anything really physical the idea of humping pipes around or going up scaffolds – I don’t think so! I like people and I talk a lot, so this is the job for me now.
My home city
Worcester’s a nice place. I was born here but I’ve moved all over and ended up back here. It’s got a lot of history, which I tell tourists about so I’m a bit like a tour guide I suppose.
My main hobby
I love reading, especially Stephen King. It’s a lot easier now that I’ve got electricity, when I was in my tent it was a torch and a lot of batteries.