Stefan, Asda, Pendlebury

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How is life at the moment?
I am very, very sad because I was supposed to go on holiday to Thailand for two months but now I cannot go. I was there two years ago, but I was not able to go last year because of the coronavirus and now I cannot go again because although I can get a flight it would cost me a lot of money to stay in a quarantine hotel when I get there. My plan had been to go and sleep in a tent on the beach, which would not be very expensive, but I cannot afford the prices in the hotel. Now a dream is dead! I miss the sunshine and I need the vitamin D. In April I will be 61 years old and I need to be in the sun as I have pain in my bones. This coronavirus is a diabolic invention!

‘I used to sell many magazines but now I might only sell ten’

Tell us about your pitch.
I sell in Pendlebury now. I have sold the magazine in many places before including in Victoria Station in Manchester and in Bolton. Things are much quieter than they used to be. I used to sell many magazines but now in a busy week I might only sell ten.

How was last year for you?
Very difficult. Very sad for everyone. I have lost many customers. Now they ignore me or they just give me a bit of money but do not take the magazine. Some of them are scared of the virus. Some of them think that Big Issue North has lots of money and that they do not need to buy the magazine. I want to have an honest life and earn money by working. In my country of Romania there is so much corruption and that is why I came here to the UK. 

What else do you do in your spare time?
I do English language classes twice a week. I enjoy them very much. I have been learning English since I came to England seven years ago. I can speak a lot of English but sometimes I do not understand people when they speak to me, especially if they talk quickly. But when I do not understand I have a dictionary and I ask people to help me. 

What did you do over Christmas?
I stayed at home. There was no work and no buses. I slept a lot, I did exercise and I read.

What books have you been reading?
I have been reading a lot about staying healthy and well. I have read that there are six steps to a healthy life. First, to be healthy it is necessary to have sun. Second is to have rest. Third is exercise – I do a lot of that. And fourth is diet and I am vegetarian. Fifth is self-respect. When people do things like smoke, they do not have self-respect. And the last one is to have friends – this is very important. If you have good friends, you have a good life. I also think there is step number seven. I think it is important to have a good relationship with God. 

Are you staying fit?
I have very good mobility for my age. I can still do many things that people who are younger than me cannot do. When I first came to Manchester, I used to stand on my head on Market Street with a hat out in front of me to collect money. I can still stay in those kinds of positions with no problem. I like to stand on my head with my legs in the air and say that I am walking on the Milky Way! 

Do you have any other plans for this year?
Maybe in the summer I will go to Romania. Perhaps things will be better by then. I do not know what the future holds for anyone though. It seems there are many problems in the world. I am normally a very positive person, but I do not feel very positive at the moment. We are being hammered by problems in the world. 

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