How long have you sold Big Issue North for?
I’ve just started it recently, but I sold The Big Issue years ago in the South West. I’m from Cornwall originally, but I’ve travelled about a lot. I’ve got itchy feet. I’ve never been comfortable being settled in one place, in a house or a flat. I feel a lot more comfortable when I’m closer to nature, in a caravan or something.
Where did your urge to live like that come from?
A lot of my education I didn’t get from school. I was always one of those kids at school, they’d say: “Oh, he’s intelligent but he doesn’t use it.” I learnt a lot more about history and politics through the 1980s punk movement, the anarchists, record covers and pamphlets, than I ever did in a class. Also a lot of people came to my town busking and stuff, people my age who were like wild kids, and I realised that you could live outside the system or on the fringes of it. It’s a lot more difficult these days, of course, with the different laws they have put in place to stop us, to make this kind of lifestyle a criminal act.
Why are you selling the magazine now?
Lack of money, basically. I had to come back to the UK after living in Spain because I was getting Employment and Support Allowance here, but that got stopped because I missed a doctor’s appointment. I have a lot of health problems. I’m not scared of hard graft, but I find it hard to keep to a nine to a five job because some days I’m OK and some days it’s difficult to get out of bed. I’m not getting any money coming in right now and the magazine is keeping the wolf from the door while I sort my benefits out again.
How long will you stay here in Sheffield?
If I want to get this claim sorted, it’s going to be a few months at least, but I don’t know. I mean, life can go many ways at any time. You don’t know when it’s going to be your last day either. I was a heavy drinker when I was 18. I didn’t think I’d make 25. Then I got into hard drugs and a lot of my friends died young from drug use. I didn’t expect to make 30. Then I got told I had health problems and I thought I wouldn’t make 40. Now here I am at 47 and my health is improving a bit, but I never made many plans because I never expected to get this far.
You like writing, don’t you?
I love writing and I have had bits published in magazines and stuff. I write to banging techno and I just let the words come out. I write descriptive pieces, some things that have happened to me. And I like writing about nature and the way it comes together with the inner city – how you can find beauty in the grimmest places. Everyone tells me I should write a book but it’s hard to do something off your own back, especially if you have been living a semi-chaotic lifestyle. I try and find other creative people to be around. I’m in a writing group and I share my work on Facebook.
Do you think you’ll ever settle down?
I might be forced to at some point, I suppose. If I ever won the lottery I’d be over in Spain tomorrow. My girlfriend and I have a live-in truck there, which is parked on a piece of land. It’s near a fresh water spring and I would like to go there and work on the land and use solar panels to make our own electricity.