How was lockdown?
It was rough. My biggest problem when it comes to relapsing on drugs is boredom, so you can imagine how hard the last few months have been. But I have successfully made it through without relapsing, so that’s what counts. And now I’m back at work, so I’m well happy.
‘I’d like to go on a holiday, which I have never had in my life’
What did you do to keep busy?
Not a lot, to be honest. It was easier for me to stay in because if I went out I’d have done something stupid. It was easier to lock the door and just go out once a week to get some shopping. I watched a lot of TV and played on the computer. I’ve been sitting in my chair doing nothing for so long, I’ve got a trapped nerve in my neck and I can hardly lift my hands above my head now.
How did you feel about not being able to sell the magazine?
It’s been stressful. I wanted to start back much earlier but there was a lot of commotion about having a bank account and having a card machine at first. I’ve not had a bank account for nearly 20 years and to get one I needed to get some ID sorted out first. I’ve been waiting for my driving licence to come back so I have some photo ID, but it’s been six weeks and I’m still waiting. I’ve been stressed out over that. Thankfully Big Issue North then said that we could go back on the streets and start taking cash, so I have been able to start selling again after having to rely on the hardship fund.
What are your plans for the rest of the year?
I’m saving up to buy a car. Well, I may as well get one if I’m going to have a driving licence. I last owned a car about 15 years ago or something like that. Having a car will really help me get magazines. I can drive to Leeds on a Monday morning and pick them up in one go and then be back on my pitch the same day to start selling. I’d also like to get a passport and finally go on one of those rare things called a holiday, which I have never had in my life. I would go somewhere sunny and warm during the winter to get away from the cold. I love the sun – I’m a sun worshipper, I am. Of course, it will depend on what countries are safe to go to.
How do you think the government has handled the crisis?
It’s been a mess really, hasn’t it? They should have stopped things long before it got going, when they first discovered it in China, but they took so long deciding what to do, by the time they made a decision it was too late. I think we will probably have a second wave. Look at what happened in London when the bars opened. Once people have a drink, social distancing goes out the window. I’ve got a funny feeling that somewhere along the line some places might get shut down again. What I hope is, if there’s a city that has a problem, they just shut that place down, and not the whole country. There’s no point shutting the whole country down just because one town has a bit of a blip.
Do you have a message for your customers?
My customers are happy to see me back and happy to know that I got through it. A lot of them really look out for me. I just want to say a big thank you for all the support they have shown me and for being patient during the crisis.