There are not many vendors out today, Stefan. How is it selling the magazine on this wintery day?
Today is very cold, yesterday was very cold, tomorrow will be the same. To stay warm I have many tops on and many pairs of trousers. I have four pairs of thick socks. Normally I am a size eight shoe, but because of these socks I am wearing a size ten boot. I have two hats on as well. It is slow selling the magazine. Sometimes it’s very quiet. Everybody ignores the vendors. It’s difficult in winter, anytime it’s windy or cold, people rush on past. But at least here on my pitch I am protected from the rain.
“I am a true Forest Gump”
You are taking part in a half marathon in May. Tell us about that.
I am doing the Great Manchester half marathon to raise money for the Big Issue North Trust. I am training three times a week. I have an exercise bike and a cross trainer in my house which I bought from a charity shop in Bolton. I train in the middle of the night because I work so much. I want to raise money for the trust because it does a good thing. And I like to run as it keeps me in a good physical condition.
You took part in another championship recently, didn’t you?
Last week I was in Romania at the National Athletic Championships. I was in the over 55s category, but I did not have such a good experience. It was an indoor championship and I did not have the right trainers on, they should have had spikes on the bottom. The best I did was in the 200m, I got a bronze medal for that. For the 1,500m I came sixth, but five years ago I was national champion.
How old are you now?
I am now 56, and I am 57 in April.
What else are you doing at the moment?
I am trying to get my CSCS card to work on a construction site. I need to pass an exam to get it. I have tried twice and failed because I didn’t understand all the questions. I listened again and again but the time was flying. I am preparing to take the exam again in a month. I am confident that I will pass soon. After that I have the possibility of a job as a gate person on a construction site.
So you might have a new job soon?
Yes. This will change my life. I will no longer be a vendor, I will be a customer instead. I will still support the magazine because I know that vendors are working and not begging and I want to give help to them. I know how hard it is to be a vendor. I see a lot of people giving money to beggars and not always buying the magazine. This is their choice. But I will always support vendors of the magazine.
You once walked from Romania all the way to Egypt. Would you ever do such a similar walk?
Maybe when I am a pensioner. I want to make a big journey, about 40,000 kilometres to Asia, around and back. This would be my last dream for this life. I am a true Forest Gump.
Do you have a message for your customers?
I want to say thanks so much to all the people who have supported me.