Ian Knowles, 69, Music Hall, Aberdeen
I used to be a trawlerman on the fishing boats, I did that for 10 years. In sunny weather it was beautiful but when it was gales of wind it was terrible. Really terrifying. Our boat wasn’t what you would call a big one and you’d just go right up on top of the wave and then down the other side. Then I worked in the fish houses, finning, filleting and smoking. I was a jack of all trades but I liked the fish house work better because it was safer.
I had an accident when I was trawling and injured my back. It started to get worse the older I got, so when I was 60 I retired. I didn’t like being stuck at home not able to do anything so I started with The Big Issue about a year and a half ago. I’ve got medication for my back pain, and where my pitch is I can walk up and down the street. Being on the move helps with the pain. On my first day, The Big Issue gave me the usual five free magazines to get me started and I sold them in an hour. So I bought some more and thought, this is going to be the job for me. I enjoy it because I get on with people and I’m polite. Bad weather doesn’t bother me.
We vendors have an agreement and if the boy at Marks & Spencer isn’t out I can work his pitch and vice versa. It works well either way for us. Most of the time I do my swapping is if I’m out working on a Sunday, and I’ll be going out on Sundays quite a bit now in the run up to Christmas. My pitch is on the main street but it’s a lot quieter now, it’s just vape shops, bookies and fast-food places. There are very few actual shops on the street itself now.
I live alone but my daughter and her husband stay just across from me. She checks on me all the time because of my age. I’ve got two granddaughters and a grandson too but they’re away from Aberdeen now. I’m in a skyscraper on the 15th floor so I can’t have a dog but I do have about 20 tropical fish. I’ve got a couple of angel fish, some sharks. Sometimes I like to put off the TV and the lights and just sit and watch the fish. The other thing I really like is my music. Elvis, Beatles, Stones, Freddie and the Dreamers, Dave Clark Five, Gerry and the Pacemakers, all the stuff from the Fifties and the Sixties.
At Christmas I’ll have a nice quiet day in the house with a bottle of Morgan’s Spiced and a roast. Anyone who comes on my intercom that day won’t get an answer. And this Sunday it’s my 70th birthday – that’s one Sunday I’m definitely taking off. I’m going to have a few tummy warmers at the Grill bar, where it’s £1.70 for a pensioner’s nip. I normally go in there every day after I finish selling, have my one and then go home. On my birthday I’ll be meeting up with a lad I’ve known since 1958, our fathers were friends and I’ve never been away from him. So that’ll be nice. I may be 70 but I’m not pushing 10 toes up yet. And I’m not ready to.
Photo: Richard Frew
Union St, Aberdeen AB10 1QS, UK