Dean, Booths, Garstang

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Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m 45 in May and I was brought up in Putney, London. That’s my home town. But I’m staying in Blackpool at the moment. 

How long have you been selling the magazine?
I was selling for about a year or so. This is the second stint. I was selling before, but then I got a job as a cleaner at Blackpool Pleasure Beach. The season came to an end and then I got a job in a factory but then that finished too so I came back to selling the magazine. I enjoy selling it and I have some great customers so I can’t wait to return to Garstang when I can.

What jobs have you done in the past?
I’ve had a variety of jobs. I worked in a pub, I used to refit and clean aircraft. I’ve worked as a chef and I’ve been a cycle courier. I loved that. Selling the magazine came out of the fact that I couldn’t find any other work and I needed the income. 

How did you become homeless?
I split up with the wife. She had the flat before I moved in with her and so when we broke up I had to move out and the council wouldn’t rehouse me. I was homeless for a time, selling The Big Issue down in London. Then I came up here and I stayed in B&Bs for a while when I could afford it, or slept rough when I couldn’t. I knew Blackpool was a cheap place to live and I’d been up here a couple of times in the past. I’d love to move back to London but it’s just too expensive.

How are you coping with the current coronavirus crisis?
Fortunately someone has let me stay at their flat. He’s down in London at the moment and I’m doing him a favour being here and looking after his place while he is away. It’s got a garden which is good for me and my dog and if I hadn’t been able to stay here I would have been in a very difficult position. The B&B that I would normally stay in was planning to close and I don’t know where I would have gone. The council didn’t seem to know what would happen. I don’t know how long I can stay here for or what will happen when the owner comes back. I’m just playing it by ear really. Fortunately I’ve managed to put some money aside to be able to get some food but I don’t know what the future holds.

How are you spending your time?
I’ve been practising a few songs on the harmonica, learning new tunes. I have a YouTube channel (youtube.com/deanportertv) and I’d like to reach more people on it, so I hope they tune in. I’m in the process of learning a lot. I used to have a banjo as well but I had to put that in Cash Converters because I needed to borrow some money against it. Hopefully I can buy it back at some point. I’ve always had a love of music, even if I couldn’t play it. I like Bruce Springsteen, Rolling Stones and John Lee Hooker. I may not be that great at playing, but I don’t think Jedward are musically talented and they seem to do well.

Do you have any family?
From my dad’s first marriage there was myself, two brothers and my sister, but she passed away a few years ago. My brother down in London has a history of not looking after himself and he’s in a high-risk category if he gets the virus, so I’m worried about him. Sadly both my parents passed away almost 20 years ago. I fell out with my mum about a year before she died and we never made up. Now I say to someone if you have an argument, always make your peace, even if you think you are right. 

What was your childhood like?
I grew up in care but from the age of five. My father was somewhat abusive and my mother was alcoholic. I was lucky because I was put in a good place with this woman who ran the home brilliantly. 

Do you have a message for your customers?
Remain calm, follow the advice and stay in if you can. Try and support the magazine and feel free to subscribe to me on YouTube! 

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