Gordon, Manchester Victoria Station

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Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m 73 years old and originally from Darlington. I’ve been selling Big Issue North for nearly 15 years now. 

You are also one of the stars of this year’s Big Issue North calendar, aren’t you? 
I am! We went to a place behind Piccadilly Station in Manchester to try some food that they’d made. Some of it was really nice. I loved the strawberry cheesecake. I’ve never tasted anything like it before. 

And you’ve moved pitches recently too.
I used to sell outside Sainsbury’s in Heaton Park. I was there for 12 years and I had a lot of regular customers who’d all become friends. I used to look after people’s dogs when they went in to do their shopping. Everyone knew me there. I was very sad to leave that pitch. But I’ve decided to give Victoria a try because there’s not been a vendor here for years. 

How’s it going?
It’s been a struggle because I don’t have any regular customers at the moment. Everyone seems to race out of the station in the morning and race in at night so it’s quite difficult to sell here. But another vendor told me that if I stand here long enough eventually people will get used to seeing me.

Have you ever thought about retiring?
The reason I’m still working is that I’m keeping my mind occupied and I’m still earning a little bit of money as well. If I were to sit down and watch that daytime television every day, I’d go round the bend. Also it helps me pay for some of my bills and for life insurance, which I have so I can leave my sons something when I go.

Tell us a bit about your family.
I’ve got two sons. They are grown up now and I am very proud of them. And I’m a grandfather as well. I was the eldest of four children myself but all my brothers and sisters have died now. 

What do you do when you’re not selling the magazine?
I watch a bit of television when I’m at home. There’s not a lot on that I like but I do watch the quiz shows. If someone asks you a question and you know the answer, then that’s great. And if you don’t know the answer, you learn things. There are a lot of repeats on the telly though. Some of those quiz shows are 20 or 30 years old. There’s a lot of dead people on the telly these days – Bruce Forsyth. Jim Bowen. They’re already dead and they’ve still got them on the telly. There are more dead people on the telly than there are people who are alive. 

What was your childhood like?
I had a good childhood. When I was younger, I was a good athlete and I was a good darts player too. And I used to breed rabbits. I’ve still got my trophies from that. New Zealand White – that was my prize rabbit. I called him Billy after my dad. 

What makes you happy?
I like watching a good comedy. I’ve always been a big fan of George Formby and Norman Wisdom. When I was a kid, seven or eight, just down the street from where we lived there was an Odeon picture house which showed Saturday morning minors’ matinees. The main film was always George Formby and I got to love him.

This year’s calendar is all about food. Do you like cooking yourself?
Yes. I do all my own cooking at home. I don’t buy ready meals. 

Have you tried to cook with any of the recipes in the calendar yet?
No, not yet but I might get around to it at some point. Maybe I’ll have a go at that cheesecake!

Do you have a message for your customers?
Thanks for supporting me and please come and say hello to meat Manchester Victoria. 

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