Leeds Rail Station

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We last spoke in October 2015. How has life been since then?
A low point was that my ex-wife passed away in November 2015. I miss her a lot. She used to proofread my poetry and I miss sharing things with her. My daughter has been struggling to come to terms with it too. It was hard for her.

‘What makes me happy? Watching my beloved Rhinos.’

How’s the poetry writing going?
It’s going well. I’ve been writing poetry now for 20 years or more. It uplifts me and it’s something I’ve always enjoyed doing. It inspires me and gets my creative side going. I’d like to write a book of poetry before the end of this year because I turn 50, and one of the things I would love to do is get my poems into a proper book form. I share my work with friends on Facebook and from time to time my poems appear on the letters pages of  Big Issue North as well.

Why do you continue to sell the magazine?
I just enjoy doing this. It gets me out, meeting lots of different people from different backgrounds. The support I get from the staff is absolutely first class. I suffer with depression and my ex-wife’s death was a difficult moment for me, but with the support of Big Issue North and my friends, I don’t think I’ve done too bad.

What was your childhood like?
It was a really enjoyable childhood. My dad was a bus conductor and my mam did work a bit, but then she had five kids so she was busy looking after us. I’m the middle one of the five. My youngest brother was born in ‘81, and he’s done well for himself. He’s a vicar for the Church of England now. We get together for family dos from time to time.

What do you do in your spare time?
I’m vice-president of my local sports and social club. I call the bingo and operate the lights and the sound when we have turns on, like comedians or singers. I’ve been on the committee there for a couple of years. I enjoy it and have quite a few friends there.

You’re a big Leeds Rhinos rugby fan. How are they doing?
They had a blip last season and finished in the bottom four of the table. They managed to stay in the Super League though and so far they’ve been a lot better. Last year, I was given the biography of Kevin Sinfield, who was their captain until he retired a couple of seasons ago. I went to a book signing and got the book signed by him.

Are you going to vote in the general election?
Definitely. I vote in every election. Everyone should vote and make it count. I haven’t decided who I’m going to vote for. I’m looking for us to get a good deal out of the Brexit negotiations and one of the most important things for me is improving the homeless situation. It feels like there are more people homeless now than there have ever been.

How do you feel about turning 50?
I’m looking forward to it. They say 50 is the new 40. One of the things I’d love to do in the next 10 years is get a passport and go abroad because I’ve never been abroad. I’m also planning on having a party on my birthday.

What makes you happy?
Watching my beloved Rhinos.

Manchester in my thoughts

I sit by the quiet water

Lost in my thoughts

And as I sit by the quiet water

And I am lost in my own thoughts

I pray for peace to come

While I am lost in my own thoughts

My thoughts are like a carpet

That has been made of silk

So please tread on that carpet carefully

Remember they are my thoughts

And that carpet is made of silk

I pray for peace to come

As I sit by the quiet waters

I pray for peace to come

I pray that peace will come to you

As I sit by the quiet waters

I hope that peace will come to you

As I sit by the quiet water

Lost in my own thoughts

Howard Newton

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