Dean, Co-op, Whalley

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We spoke at the beginning of the first lockdown.* How has the last year been?
It’s been a challenge. That’s the polite word that everybody has been using, I guess. Yeah, it’s been challenging, not being able to sell the magazine. 

What was the worst thing about lockdown?
The sense of isolation – not being able to get out and about. 

Where are you staying now?
I’m in the same place that I was before, basically sofa surfing. I do some stuff for the bloke who owns the place. He has a disability, so I run some errands for him in return for having a place to sleep. 

Are you still learning to play the harmonica?
Yes. I’m not an advanced harmonic player but I’m learning it. I’ve been posting videos of me playing to my YouTube channel. I enjoy it as a hobby but I wouldn’t mind making a bit of money from it as well at some point, being a busker or getting some money from my social media pages. It would be great if people could find and follow me on social media and let me know what they think of my playing. 

You’re quite active on social media. Do you enjoy using it?
I do, yeah. I had to change some of my social media accounts because I had some problems on there. I was not being abusive or insulting in any way but I think it’s a common tactic now that if you don’t share someone’s opinions, they report you and try and get your account cancelled and get you kicked off. If someone has a difference of opinion from me, I just politely challenge them and put my opinion across. But some people don’t know how to do that. It’s like freedom of speech isn’t happening at the moment. I think it’s important that people can have disagreements but not hate each other for it. But people have the lost the art of being civil and they put too much emotion into their opinions. 

How did you survive financially during the lockdowns?
I did try and do a bit of busking, and I got the odd bit of work. And I got a bit of support from the Manchester Big Issue North office as well, which helped. I have been through some difficult situations in the past and so I was able to mentally cope under that kind of pressure, but it was tough. 

Tell us a bit about your dog.
Her name is Elli and she’s a Staffordshire bull terrier, about 10 years old. There’s a lot of photos of her on my Instagram feed – mrdeanporter. She’s a soft little dog and she’s a treasure really. I got her when her previous owner died and no one could look after her. She’s really attached to me now. 

Are you hopeful about the future?
Yeah. There’s still stuff to be hopeful for. My biggest ambition is to cycle around the world and go busking with the harmonica as I go. I think by doing music, it would be really good, because music links people and it’s something we all share. And I have a good bike that I could use to do it. 

How old are you now?
I’m 46 years old. I share a birthday with Kylie Minogue, and the funny thing is I have been to her house. Back in the late nineties, I was working in London, delivering food for a posh delivery company. And I delivered food to this woman and I was looking at her and I was thinking: “You look strangely familiar.” And as she closed the door I realised that she was Kylie Minogue. I’ve met quite a few famous people and celebrities. It’s one of the things I miss about being in London. 

Would you go back there?
I would like to, yeah. Most of my friends and family are there but it’s just being able to afford it. The price of renting anywhere in London is crazy. But I always say if I won the lottery, I would move back to London. 

Do you have a message for your customers?
I think they are brilliant. They keep me motivated and it’s nice having decent people to talk to. Even if they don’t buy a magazine from me, they are always decent to me. Also I want to let them know that if they do want to buy a magazine but they haven’t got any cash, I now take card payments as well! 

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