Easton Christian, White City tube station, London

Big Issue vendor Easton Christian is out of retirement to sell The Big Issue and his customers' support helped him take a well-earned holiday

I’ve been back selling The Big Issue since November after retiring a couple of years ago. The people at The Big Issue told me that my customers were asking what happened to me and they kept getting phone calls and emails asking about me. They asked me if I wanted to come back and help out so I said no problem. I’m back by popular demand! 

Was I missing selling the magazine when I was retired? Not really but it’s no problem, it’s a bit of extra cash in your pocket. Collecting your pension and your pension credit and paying all the bills you’re left with the same amount of money at the end of each month so it’s good to have a little bit extra, you know what I mean? I still see a few of my regular customers but not all of them. Some of them may have retired or started working from home. But the ones I see do still get me Christmas presents and stuff like that. 

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Things are OK on my pitch at the minute. I was 70 on my last birthday and it does get a little harder to sell the magazine when you get older. When I first started I could sell 10 magazines a day. Now I can hardly do 10 for the week but it’s starting to pick back up again. I’m one of the vendors involved in The Big Issue’s #streetismystore campaign and I’m looking forward to seeing what the mural looks like. I like a bit of street art. 

I was born in Jamaica. When I came to England at the very end of the 1960s I lived in Notting Hill. I’ve been selling The Big Issue since 2008. I was homeless and I used to go to a centre in Essex Road in North London for coffee and tea and sandwiches. Someone who was working there asked me if I wanted to sell the magazine.

I said, “Yeah, no problem.” At least it was something to do and at least I could be earning something instead of relying on those centres. I’ve got a place to live now. I come over to my pitch from Hackney and I live in a place run by an almshouse charity. Bills are going up but I’m getting by. 

When I’m not selling the magazine I like listening to music and going out socialising, meeting people. I’ve got a place where I go where people meet up with music and food and coffee and tea so I spend some time there. People bring their own music – reggae mostly – so I enjoy that.  

I used to go to the Frampton Park Baptist Church in Hackney but I don’t go there anymore because the lady who invited me there in the first place died. Jesus said to Peter: “On this rock I will build my church” so instead I think we are the church. To keep in tune with God, you only need God there to tell how good he has done for you. Some people don’t open the Bible until every Sunday. 

I’d like to thank my customers because if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t have got what I’ve got. I went on holiday for four days in May and if they weren’t buying the magazine, I couldn’t do that, could I? I went to Clacton-on-Sea in Essex at the caravan park. You go there and they’ve got a bar and a swimming pool – but I’m not too bothered about swimming to be honest. I went to the discotheque in the evenings, it started from about 10 and went until about 2 so I was doing a bit of dancing. The weather was good every day too, it was very hot in May. Without my customers I wouldn’t have been able to do that.  

Words: Liam Geraghty

White City Station, Wood Lane, London, UK