Feral, The Body Shop, Bath

Feral is trying to learn the ukelele to entertain customers on his pitch

Every day’s a different story. My pitch is quite new, and I’m in the process of building it up. You’ve got to be in it to win it, and the more you see people, the more they talk. 

Having that one-to-one conversation is important, and it reciprocates. It’s good for the sellers, because it’s good for your head. But it’s good for the people you’re talking to as well. Some people don’t have anybody to talk to in the day. Some of the best conversations I’ve had with people have been with people who have nothing. They don’t have to be anybody. You just chat about all sorts, there’s no hierarchy. 

Bath is great, there’s lots going on. I was in Wells before. I wanted a different outlook, a bit of city life, and I’m enjoying it. The buildings, the different varieties of people. You see all sorts.  

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My caravan is my home – I’ve had it for seven years now, but I don’t have a car, so it’s just stuck in a field. It’s on the side of the road, on a bit of land that nobody’s bothered about. I’ve been here a while now. It’s just a basic caravan really. I’ve got a wood burner in it, and a two-ring gas burner. No electric. I have these LED lights which let off quite a lot of light. Having the caravan has made a hell of a difference. 

When Christmas approaches, I normally do German decorations because they’re better made – the green stuff, all to do with St Nicholas. That goes back thousands of years. Santa’s just a Coca-Cola advert – our original Santa was St Nicholas. 

Before I had the caravan, I just had a tent with my home on my back. I travelled around like that for nearly 33 years. 

I’ve been homeless for 33 years, and I first started selling The Big Issue about three years into that. Selling the mag gets me up on my feet, and you get a good support network. They keep an eye on you. They’ve never let me down. 

I don’t think they can ever get rid of cash, but it feels like it’s on its way. The Big Issue are helping me open a bank account, so I can use a card reader when I’m selling. But I don’t have my birth certificate, so they’re helping me get that. Getting a card reader will really help. It’s a struggle for street people and homeless people, not being able to get bank accounts. 

At the moment, I’m trying to learn the ukelele. Hopefully I can cheer people up with that. 

I’m a proper islander, I love our traditions. Solstices, Halloween, bonfire night, going round the maypole. Every bonfire night I’ll make myself hotdogs and soup. My dad used to be a long-distance lorry driver, I used to go with him. I’ve seen a lot of England, Wales and Scotland, but I’d like to see a lot more places. There’s so much to see on this island. 

Getting out into the countryside, going for walks on my own – that’s what does it for me. Over the years I’ve done parachuting, I’ve had a good life, I’ve gone out and done a lot. But I like going on my own. When you’ve done a lot of work with people in the daytime, you want a lot of space. I like going up the towpaths, over the stiles. This time of year, there are so many colours in the trees. 

I’ve seen and done loads, I’ve had a really good life. I’ve done a lot of things that a lot of people haven’t been able to do. 

Interview: Greg Barradale

The Body Shop, Burton Street, Bath, UK

The Big Issue

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