As a young man I travelled around Europe a lot, grape-picking and stuff like that. Then I came back and lived in Ireland for 10 years and went up to Scotland in the Eighties. I had gone there for an interview to get on the oil rigs but didn’t get on them. I ended up going to Peterhead and getting a couple of trips on a fishing boat. When I came to Cornwall in 2000 it just seemed the natural thing to do, to go to sea. I’d worked out of Newlyn from 2002 until 2013. I still go out now as emergency crew if someone is ill or on holiday.
I became homeless when my relationship with my partner ended last year, but it wasn’t until January that I got off my arse and started selling The Big Issue. I was on the streets over Christmas and was in a bit of shock, I didn’t know what to do with myself. You just kind of drop out a bit. But after speaking to other vendors I thought ‘Here’s a way out’. I wasn’t getting back into my relationship, I knew that wasn’t a possibility.
I stopped a robbery on a sweet shop [Pennyworths, pictured below] close to my pitch in January, which helped cement the bond between me and the shopkeepers where I work. The man from the sweet shop always says hello when I’m in town, offers me a coffee or a choc bar! I’ve made some really good friends. Everybody says hello every day. I’m always smiling and cheerful to them. I’ve got all me old ladies that come by and shoot the breeze. My punters are lovely. They always stop and have a chat. I have started building up regulars, getting familiar with everybody’s faces. I can spot them a mile off now, but I used to say hello to the same faces about six times a day! I love it. It gets me out and it puts food on the table.
I’m in emergency accommodation now. A few weeks ago I got a virus, and because I was still trying to sleep rough it turned into bronchial pneumonia. I ended up having to spend all my savings to get a B&B to get off the street but I got so ill there was no way I was going to survive if I went back on the streets. So within a couple of days I got a call from the Housing Association people and they put me up in emergency accommodation in Camborne. Now I’ve got to commute to do my pitch, but I’m just so made up not to be on the streets. I’ve got six months here, but I want to go somewhere out in the country. I’m thinking about this summer going to try and work on organic farms. I’ve been talking to a few people about it, I’m just waiting on a follow-up.
I had a smallholding for five years, I was self-sufficient. I had goats, geese, pigs, ducks, chickens. My long-term plan would be to get back to doing that again eventually. Either I can save up money to buy a static or someone will let me have one on a bit of land where I can start growing stuff again. It’s my hobby. Chillies are my speciality. I grew 30 different varieties last year, including the Trinidad Scorpion, which is apparently the UK’s strongest-tasting!Malletts Home Hardware, Victoria Square, Truro