Reproduced here are monologues used in a presentation on homelessness at the Partnership for Theological Education (Manchester). The three Big Issue vendors are real people but all the names have been changed to protect their privacy. The six monologues are an amalgamation of several conversations with each vendor. As far as possible their words are recorded verbatim.
Come here you stupid dog. No, come and sit down. On your blanket.
What is it you do again? You're going to be a priest or something aren't you?
No come on Tixie - come and sit on your blanket. No don't eat that you silly dog - it's plastic and you'll get ill and we'll have to go up the vet again.
She's a good dog - she's all house-trained and everything. This woman came up to me, right, and she was making out I wasn't looking after my dog. But I do look after my dog. She always gets fed before I do - she gets fed every day - but I don't. This woman, right, said I wasn't looking after my dog and I let her, well, poo on the pavement. But I never. We always go round the park on the night and she does it then. But this woman, right, she said my dog had done it down there. You know I was right polite and everything - if you get mouthy you only give street-people a bad name. I said it wasn't my dog 'cos if Tixie like does anything I always got these bags.
(Big Issue love? Bless you. No, this isn't my husband, my husband's down there. This is my friend.)
You don't mind me saying you're my friend do you? I just thought you might not like it. When I said we was married - we're not really - but it's like we are - know what I mean?
I was married - I got a daughter, she's twelve now - you wouldn't think I was old enough would you? How old do you think I am? I'm *******. Her dad treated me real bad. You know, beat me up and everything. She's with her grandma now. She won't let me see her.
Do you think God gets angry if you, like, get angry with him? He's not going to send me to hell or anything is he? You see, I don't think I'm a bad person. These people all walk past and they look at you like you're dirt, but I know I'm not a bad person - not as bad as some. I'm a person too you know. Then there's some that stop and talk like you do - but there's not many.
I'll bring you that book sometime. It's all about God. I didn't understand it. I want to know what you think.
How are you? You alright?
No, I never got to hear from Joanne over Christmas. I sent her some money, like, but I don't know if she got it. I don't know if her grandma lets her see the letters I send her. Perhaps she doesn't want her to see what her mum's like. I want to get some money together and go down and see my dad. he lives close to her and we might be able to drive across and see her - that's if her grandma lets us. When we got the divorce it was, like, open access - I can see her any time but she's in Plymouth and I'm up here. I've got some money saved up at the office but it's not enough yet.
I've been doing this since my mum died. There wasn't anything to keep me there then. I just started travelling. You won't believe this, but all I ever wanted was to get married, be a good wife and mother and have a nice house. That's not wrong is it? I know I'm not a bad person.
We're staying in Sneinton at the moment. Do you know it? We were in the cave. That's right, the one under the castle near the statue. It's not bad in there. there's one big bit then there's some small bits off it. There were seven of us in there. The council come and threw us out. They threw all our stuff away. This was in the summer and I was out vending all day in my T-shirt and all my stuff was back in the cave and when I got back in the evening all my stuff had gone and they'd hosed the cave down. We rang the council but they said there was only rubbish in the cave. But there was a brand-new radio cassette. You can't tell me they thought a brand- new radio-cassette was rubbish. Someone's had that. That's stealing. I don't steal - I'm not a bad person - so why should they steal off me?
Rick? No, I haven't seen him for a while. I asked at the office and they said he'd been to hospital with his chest again - you know his chest was really bad. Then someone said he's gone back to Wales so I don't know.
OK, see you around.
No, I've only been doing this about six weeks, No, I don't mind.
My wife was messing around so I walked out.
You look at me now you wouldn't think I used to have a big house and two Volvos would you? But it was all her money. I was like a - what do you call it - househusband. A kept man. We thought it was working OK but then she started acting funny. She denied it, but I went round to his house and her car was there. She said I was wrong and it was all over but she did my head in so I just walked out.
She's still got all my music. My solicitor says she's got to let me have it but she says I'm coming back and everything's going to be like it was - but I'm not. She's messing me about. But she's got all the money. You see it was all hers. I didn't have anything so I didn't take anything when I left.
I've written some poetry. I've sent some up to the Issue but they've not printed it. You know "Buskers" bar on Maid Marion Way, they have acoustic bands there and I was there on Saturday night and read some of my poetry. The manager said I could come again.
Yeah, that's Becky my girlfriend - she's really smart you know. She said I should go up to the People's College with my poetry and try and get on a course. They said they'd take me if I could get a grant.
Hiya mate, how you doing?
Not good mate. These b*****ds come and took my dog. This was last week and I was just standing here vending and these three fellas got out of this car, and they come across and one of them said "That's my dog" and just took him. So they go back to their car and I run after them and one of them just grabbed my bag of Issues and they all drove off.
I went to the Police and they said I hadn't a chance of getting my dog back but they found my bag of Issues 'cos they'd dumped that by the road. So I asked if I could have my Issues back to sell as it's my trade, right. They said they had to keep them as evidence so I said how am I going to make a living? So they said I could have them back next week. That's no bl**dy good is it? I said they're out of date then but they said they couldn't do anything.
I'm working part-time up at the office now. It's getting me some experience so I might get a job. They won't take me up at the college 'cos I can't get a grant.
Alright mate - take care.
How y'doing? Alright?
No, I don't mind, ask what you want.
Me, I've been on the streets for about two years now. I've been selling the Biggy for about a year.
No, I only just come here a couple of months back. I was in Birmingham. That's where I come from but I idn't get on with me dad. I come here 'cos I got in trouble with the law. I can tell you 'cos I know you.
Well, I was just on the street, like, and this old lady got knocked down and the law said I done it but I didn't. So I got scared and done a bunk. Where am I going to get the money for a lawyer? And if you're on the streets no-one believes you anyway. So now there's this warrant out for me. This isn't my real name - that bit is but this bit isn't. If the law found out I was here they'd send me back to Birmingham and bang me up.
I want to go back and see me dad but I daren't in case I get to the station, right, and some copper knows who I am. That's me banged up.
You got your own place? Oh yeah, you said you and your missus got somewhere. I'd love to have me own place you know. Wouldn't it just be great to go back to me own place on a night, lock the door and say "F**k off world". That would be just me, that.
Ok, see y'round.
Hiya mate, y'alright?
Cheers for the other day. Nice one. That copper was bang out of order. What's the big deal nicking someone for falling asleep? I was busking - you're allowed to busk up there - I've done it before and they've not done nowt. I had my whistle and everything. I've got to busk or I can't afford to buy me Biggies. I was that knackered I fell asleep didn't I? Next thing I know there's this copper saying he's nicking me for begging. But I wasn't - I only fell asleep.
I know I shouldn't have run. That was bl**dy daft. That's why he nicked me. The man said if he saw me again he was going to fine me or bang me up. Good job they didn't know who I am - I never give them my real name.
Thanks for taking that money down to Joe. He shouldn't have let me give you that 'cos he'd already nicked me but I need that money. That's not my Issue money - that's for something else. I got this little habit. I've done it since I was at school. I can't get up some days if I don't have a sniff - know what I mean? If they took my habit money I'be be stuffed - know what I mean? Thank's for that - nice one!
Noone's buying today. I've been here since ten o'clock and sold two.