A large tomato grabbed me in Oxford Street. Or was it some kind of onion? On second thoughts it was not red enough to be a tomato.
Anyway, a large vegetable – yes I know a tomato is a fruit – grabbed me on a cold day recently and insisted on shaking my hand. I was with my children and the large piece of vegetation told them about all the struggles on London’s streets 22 years ago to establish The Big Issue.
I have met some variously dressed former Big Issue vendors in my time, but never an unidentifiable vegetable.
I met a scaffolder who ape-like dropped from a great height down to the street level to talk to me. Or an impeccably dressed chauffeur who abandoned his car in the middle of the street, getting some honks for so doing, and embracing me. Or a chef in a restaurant who came out with his knives that had been purchased for him, along with the silly hat, apron and pants by The Big Issue.
Each had one thing in common: they were telling me that The Big Issue got them out of the sticky stuff. But the vegetable was surely the most dramatic. He had now given his life to raising money for children’s charities, and was a sure sign that though once a part of the problem, he was now a part of the solution.
Unfortunately for us we are not very good at gathering up the stories of former vendors and what happens next, good or bad. This is largely because our vendors often just ‘split’ when the time comes for them to graduate from street-selling to something else.