Tudor Paraschiv, 63, Gloucester Road, Bristol

"I was a dental technician for 30 years, but I don’t think anyone would employ me now"

This week it’s six years since I had my first Big Issue badge made in Bristol. I had a different pitch to begin with but then later that year in October I got this one and I’ve been here ever since. It was hard and confusing at first but people recognise me now and say hi in the street.

I was a dental technician in Romania for 30 years but the political situation was very difficult so I came here to be with my son. I enjoyed my job and I’d like to be able to do it again, but I’m 63 now and I don’t think anyone would want to hire me at my age. It was a good job though because I was helping people with their teeth and that made me happy.

But I enjoy this too and I like my pitch. I have a motto in life – respect people and you’ll get back respect. I like the people in Bristol and I get only respect from them. I get along with everyone.

I had a portrait done recently for a special Big Issue display for Upfest [a street art festival] in the city. I’ve just seen it for the first time right now and I have to say it’s fantastic [see below]. I can’t take my eyes off it! I met the artist, Fetch, beforehand – he did the portrait from a photo and it’s a very good likeness. It’s good that he wanted to show Big Issue vendors to the world.

Now that I’m a salesman instead of a technician it’s really taught me how to get to know strangers

Now that I’m a salesman instead of a technician it’s really taught me how to get to know strangers. The greatest asset has been meeting so many new people. You learn how to deal with people – some want to speak and some don’t – and I’ve learned a lot about human nature through selling the magazine.

Upfest, Bristol
The Upfest picture by Fetch – Tudor in his trademark hat is on the far left, bottom row

I work every day, including weekends. I don’t have a lot of free time but when I get home from my pitch and I’m tired I like to listen to opera to relax. I have cassettes at home, I love The Three Tenors in concert. That and a bit of Bizet.

My son and I live in a shared house of nine people. We’re moving into a new place soon but I’ll still be with my son. I have other children too – another son lives in Romania and my daughter is in Italy – but I haven’t seen them in the six years I’ve been here. We keep in touch by phone but I have grandchildren too and it’s hard. I miss them a lot.

On my pitch… I’m outside the Fox + Feather on Gloucester Road 8am till 5pm daily.

Photo: Sean Malyon

Gloucester Road, Bishopston, Bristol BS7 8BE, United Kingdom