Hughie, West Kirby

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Do you enjoy selling the magazine?
To be honest, it’s hard at the moment. I’ve been selling Big Issue North for about 14 years now and I need to do something else. Even when we were able to come back after the virus, I didn’t. I felt like I’d had enough. I came back in October though. 

“I had to come back. In the pandemic I never spoke to anyone.”

Why did you come back?
I had to come back because otherwise I was stuck in. It’s a good way to earn some money and it gets me out. During the pandemic I never spoke to anyone for six months and it drove me nuts. And Dave, my dog, isn’t any good for chatting to. He just looks at me when I talk to him as if to say: “What are you on about?”

How’s your dog doing?
Dave’s not so well at the moment. He’s had fleas for the first time ever and it made him really poorly. He’s 15 years old now and I feel so sorry for him. Still, he’s going to the vets and hopefully he’ll get sorted. 

What would you do if you did another job?
A friend of mine who I knew when I did care work, 15 years ago, got in touch with me and said there was work going as a fisherman. I’ve had a chat with him about it and I’m hoping to get that. I’d be working as part of a crew and the money is phenomenal. I’m just waiting to see what happens, but it would be great if it did. That would really put me in my “plaice”! 

How old are you?
I feel about 70 but actually I’m 53. 

What’s been a highlight of the year so far?
My nephew got married. It was amazing. It was nice to see my family. I get on well with my sister. She lives in Anfield and she’s a teacher. She looks after loads of kids. 

What’s not been so good?
A friend of mine committed suicide a few weeks ago. He was only 25. He said no one was listening to him. He felt like no one cared about him. He had had a hard life as a kid and I even looked after him for a while when he was younger because he had trouble at home. But he robbed a hundred quid from me and I never saw him again. That was about seven years ago and then I found out that he’d committed suicide. It’s terrible. He’d been asking for help but no one was there. I think there’s so much
of that now. People not coping. 

What do you wish for?
I’d like to go and live abroad. I want to leave this country. It feels like a horrible place to live at the moment. I saw these two blokes attacking these two lads the other week. I was in a taxi on the way home and driver wouldn’t stop because he said he didn’t want to get involved. It was sick. It kept me awake all night thinking about. They could have been my two lads. 

What was your childhood like?
I was sent to a boarding school. It was awful – full of nuns. They didn’t like me because I told them I was an atheist. They used to make us go to church every Sunday and I hated it because I didn’t believe in any of that. There was one time this priest asked if there was anyone who didn’t believe in God and I said: “I don’t!” I had about 20 nuns running after me. I was always running off from there. 

Tell us something about you that we might not know.
I play darts. I’m in a team and play every week. I’ve been playing for 37 years. It’s dead easy to get a 180, you know. Once you get one, you can get them all the time. I played Eric Bristow once. It would have been when I was about 16 or 17. It was only a practice match but he beat me five games to two. Still I managed to get two games on him. He said I was a good player, but I just enjoy the game. I would never have taken it up professionally. It’s just a bit of fun. 

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