Why are you called Smurf?
I’ve been called Smurf for years now. The short of it is, I took way too many happy things years ago, got so completely relaxed that I forgot to breathe. One of me mates saw me and went: “You’ve gone as blue as a Smurf!” And the name stuck.
‘My regulars look past the uniform and they see the person.’
Where are you from?
I’ve been travelling for nearly 30 years now, so I don’t say I’m from one particular area. I just say I’m English and this is all my back garden. Even when I was a little kid I used to spend days outside. And as an adult, well, I just prefer to be outdoors now. If you stick me in a house I get all depressed.
You recently moved pitches, where you sell the magazine. Why was that?
I had a pitch outside the old British Home Stores. The dogs were tucked out of the way and it was a good pitch. But I had some problems with the people who owned the land it was on. They said my dogs were a danger to people, even though they are fine and I keep them on leads. So I came up to this pitch and they were happy for me to sell here.
How long have you sold the magazine for?
On and off for about 22 years, all over the country. I love selling Big Issue North. I love the interactions with other people. I’ve got a lot of regulars here who come and ask how I am. They look past the uniform and they see the person, which means a hell of a lot. They are amazing people. When I had trouble on my previous pitch someone set up a Facebook and just reading the comments on it brought me to tears.
Where are you sleeping now?
I was in a tent for years and years but when they kicked me off my old pitch there was also a crowd-funding page that got set up, and out of that I managed to get a caravan, so I’m up on the traveller site now. It’s the prefect balance of being outdoors and indoors – much better than a tent and much better than a house. I’m just saving up to buy a vehicle now so I can tow it.
Tell me about your two dogs.
Luna is a pure Siberian husky and Woof is her 18-month old son. She gave birth to him into my hands. They are my world. They are the reason I get up in the morning. They keep me sane and cuddle up to me at night.
Will you stay here?
For a while, but I’m already getting itchy feet. I love Sheffield and love the people here but, me being me, I’m just ready to move on. I’d like to go to the Highlands of Scotland in the caravan. Luna can hunt and I know how to live off the land. To me that’s the best way of living.
What’s your secret to staying positive?
Every cloud has got a silver lining. You might have to look at it at the right angle, at the right time of day, or with the right glasses, but it’s there somewhere. A lot of stuff happens in life, but if you focus on the bad, you’ll miss out all the good.