Anthony Williams, 50, outside HMV, Stall Street, Bath

“I was a tree surgeon for 20 years. It took me from one end of the country to the other”

I’ve been selling the magazine in Bath for over a year, I’m pretty well-known. It’s a great place – lovely buildings, very relaxed atmosphere, and very affluent. I’ve built up a really good, friendly clientele.

My dog Bean is always with me – she has an even bigger fan club than me. She’s only seven months old, and she’s very good natured. I got her on Christmas Day. She was the runt of the litter and nobody wanted her, so I took her and we’ve been inseparable since.

Before I came to Bath I was living in Cornwall, and I went through residential rehabilitation for a year. After that I wanted a fresh start, so I came up to Bath. For a while I was camping in a tent on the outskirts of the town. It was okay. There were a few travellers near the field so I was able to get a cup of tea from a guy I knew.

For a while I was camping in a tent on the outskirts of the town

But getting through the winter doing that wasn’t great – not at my age.t So after staying with a friend for a while, I managed to prove a local connection to Bath and got into a night shelter. It’s clean and tidy and they let Bean stay so I can’t complain. It’s a thousand times better than being on the streets.

I’ve moved around a lot over the years. I grew up in Manchester but I left home at 15 to fend for myself. I went to college – a horticultural college in Guildford –and I got an HND in tree surgery. I loved working with trees, and loved being outdoors back then, so I became a commercial tree surgeon for about 20 years.

I would be the guy who made sure trees were healthy. I would keep them trimmed for buses going past or clear branches to make sure they weren’t interfering with power lines. It took me from one end of England to the other.

Unfortunately, I was in a climbing accident and damaged my knee. So I was out of work and that sent me off the rails. Slowly but surely things are falling back into place for me. I’d really like to make a go of it here in Bath.

My mate has a barge on the river, so when I’m not working I’ll potter about the barge and do a spot of fishing with him and the dog. It takes me back to my childhood, fishing on the canals in Manchester or going up to fish in the Lake District.

The best book I’ve read in ages… Spud. It’s by John van de Ruit and it’s about a boy growing up in a boarding school in South Africa. I like reading for an hour every night, mostly memoir-type books.

The one place I’d love to visit… India. I’d visit the palaces and forts and live quite cheaply there for a short while. If not next year then maybe the year after.

On my pitch… I’m outside HMV on Stall Street, Monday-Friday from 10am to 4pm.

Photo: Sean Malyon

Stall Street, Bath BA1 1QE, United Kingdom

The Big Issue

Sign up to get your FREE Doctor Who Archive Special

Celebrate the 14th series with your FREE edition of the Dr Who Special Archives