Me and My Christmas Tree

Carl Richardson, Big Issue vendor
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Indy Lifestyle Online
THIS TREE is nothing like the one I had last year. I had an eight-foot tree, but then I was a happily married man with a suit and a company car. When I lost my job as a cable television sales rep, the family broke down. I came down to London and h ave been sleeping in hostels ever since. Being homeless doesn't scare me. I was on the streets in London five years ago and that was really bad, but that was before The Big Issue. Selling the magazine gives me a bit of direction. Instead of sitting there with a bottle of wine getting drunk, I'm up at 7.30am to get myself motivated to bash the streets. People will walk past and not look at you. To make them notice me I run after them and make them laugh. I may not look much, but I am an actor like Harris on Ford or Jean-Claude Van Damme.

I sell The Big Issue outside the Adelphi Theatre in the Strand. The Christmas tree is my gimmick: you've got to use something to get people to feel sorry for you. I've also got a Father Christmas hat on so people know it's the season of goodwill. I got the Christmas decorations from a pub in the East End. I asked for them - I didn't just wreck their display. I'm hoping to get some lights and some flashing Father Christmases.

Sales of The Big Issue should go up this week: there are a lot of Christmas parties and people are unwinding and relaxing and feeling generous. Hopefully I'll make a few quid and be able to jump on a coach to Liverpool and see my kids.

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