Denizens of Aigburth and Sefton Park will no doubt have been driven by geography and circumstance to attend the Tesco’s near the junction with Lark Lane.

For as long as I has lived in the area, the area outside has been patrolled by two men; one of whom sells The Big Issue and one of whom props himself up against a rubbish bin and pulls can after can of lager out of a plastic bag.

I have never seen this second man speak, or even look at anyone, and once saw him slump to the floor, out cold. I haven’t seen him for ages, a few years at a guess, but he was there today, as if nothing had happened.

Where had he been? What had happened for him to vanish for several years, only to assume the same spot and past-time? So many questions.

I also started wondering about the man who sells The Big Issue, a man I’ve greeted and purchased a mag from for the best part of a decade. He looks old and frail now, and shakes slightly. He used to patrol the entrance and help ladies with their shopping, but now he sits in a garden chair by the entrance.

And I realised I didn’t know his name. Not, in ten years of admittedly-cursory interaction, had the subject ever come up. Why would it?

So when I bought the latest issue from him I introduced myself and asked him what his name was. He looked vaguely surprised and whispered: “Tom”.

“Nice to meet you, Tom,” I said, shook his hand and bade him good night. He smiled slightly and nodded.

Did it mean anything to him? Who knows, but I feel better for knowing his name.

  • http://www.abscraft.com Alison Bailey Smith

    Tom walks to collect his Big Issues from the city centre and back to save the bus fare, at least he used to when we lived there in 2002-2003.