Lloyd Rusdale, Waitrose, Marlborough

Lloyd is a gardener and likes to spend time outdoors just listening to birdsong

Image: Frankie Stone

I still work for another company doing gardening on Tuesdays and Fridays. They tend to do the softer side of landscaping: grass cutting, cutting hedges and a lot of bed work, weeding, putting plants in, taking plants out. We do all the fancy stuff and we try to make it stand out as much as possible. On the other days I tend to my own private garden which I’m getting more into.

It’s nice. Gardening away from everyone, maybe sitting on a bit of land, just you and a couple of other people. You’re listening to the birds singing. I like walking about on my own and listening to birds sing. My mum used to be a twitcher. Some of the sites we’re on you can hear the birds, and now and again I get a bollocking from my boss asking me: “What are you doing?” To actually hear nothing but a bird sing is still a nice thing to hear.

It’s really the bed work that I enjoy, making the flower beds stand out more. It can be tedious; half the time you’re picking up little leaves by hand and it can be backbreaking and do your nut in but the end effect? It’s worth it.

Last year I was a senior gardener and I was in five days a week, but last December the Marlborough and Hungerford buses stopped. So instead of being a senior gardener pulling in a decent wage, I’m now back to being a part-time gardener earning less.

I first started selling the magazine in the ’90s. I stopped to work for the gardening company for three years, then I started selling again. Things are different now to a degree, I think people seem to notice it more. Things are not too bad on my pitch. When I stopped selling in Marlborough, there are people who stopped buying the magazine. So when I started selling again I got quite a bit of custom. The Big Issue helps towards the council tax and stuff.

A lot of people here don’t like getting asked to buy the magazine. They’re old enough to know if they want to buy something or not. I tend to put the issues on the floor and I’ve got a big red bib on so I’m basically a billboard. If people don’t know what I’m doing in a big red bib with Big Issue on it, they’ll never know.

I was basically living in Savernake Forest near Marlborough for five years before being housed in 2012. Marlborough is lovely, I can’t imagine myself not living here. I’ve lived in some right rough places but this is the place if you want your kids to grow up without much hassle. 

My friends call me Posty. When I was 13 or 14 years old my old man buggered off and didn’t really give a shit. To keep up goodwill, he gave me a hand-me-down postman’s jacket. You get a lad wearing a dark blue jacket with a red line like they used to have in the ’80s and, no matter how far away you are, you look like a postman.

It’s still my dream to own at least an acre of land. I basically want to be self-sufficient. So I want to grow my own food, have my own drinking water, things like that and then what I don’t need I could always try to sell. It’s come from about 20 years NFA [no-fixed abode]. You’ve got nothing and you’re starving most of the time. You’re thinking it’ll be nice to have your own hideaway place where you’ll never run out of food or water and if you come across anyone who is hungry then you can always offer them food. The food’s got to come from somewhere, and you’re buying from the supermarkets. If there was a natural source then I think a lot more homeless people would be better looked after.

Interview: Liam Geraghty

Waitrose & Partners, High Street, Marlborough, UK