Today, whilst buying mags from Ben, the co-ordinator at Waterloo, I asked to have a look at the latest list of sales figures, listed by vendor number. The list was from the week before last and as Ben looked at it he said “Your figures are wrong on here, surely?” I told him that, no, unfortunately, the figures were quite correct – my sales dropped by a quarter to a third after New Year when three of the Kent platforms closed and those trains could no longer stop at London Bridge. Since then my sales have dropped to half of pre-Christmas levels leaving me in rather a woeful state. In the last three months I have been in debt more than out and the whole situation is beginning to feel quite hopeless. The recent losses in sales are due to people avoiding the rail chaos that is London Bridge and instead they are travelling to Charing Cross, Blackfriars (which apparently is quite a civilised choice), Victoria and Cannon Street. I have no idea how this will all end but it’s not looking hopeful for me – getting new people to buy when they have been walking past and ignoring you for months is very difficult. Most regular customers are the sort of generous people who would buy the magazine automatically, without thinking, usually from a vendor who is a regular fixture on their route to work. If they changed jobs or offices, then they would automatically scout around for a convenient vendor and then transfer their allegiance to them, usually with no thought at all – they are just naturally kind and generous. Unfortunately, most of the 46,000 people who pass me in the morning are not naturally kind and generous – in fact a large number of them can be rude, arrogant and thoughtless. So my task is now much, much harder than it has ever been before – and with no guarantee of any success. Keep watching to see how I fare – Sharon
I am sure you have all seen my whiteboard that I write messages on to keep the public up to date with what is happening in my life. This week a plain clothes policeman reported me to the Big Issue office as using language on the board that could be construed as begging. The notice on the board actually said – Lots of people on hols this week (lucky them!). Sales Tues 8/Wed 7 so not so hot – please stop and help, it will make you feel great!
So this was the supposed “begging” message. Unfortunately the Big I office was more interested in the board itself. The vendor co-ordinator, Chris, asked me – what is this board you have, where is it, how big is it, where is it in relation to the passing public etc. Now, everyone in the Big Issue office has seen my blog and also the film of my day that world-class journalist, Danielle Batist did for an online magazine article and my board features prominently in all these. I had to go into the office for a dressing-down about my potentially dangerous board and I have been told that I may use it only if I buy public limited liability insurance in case someone gets hurt by the board. Basically they are terrified that someone will try to sue them in such a situation, even though I am not an employee of the Big Issue as such, I am self-employed – if I was one of their employees then I would surely be covered by their own insurance. So now I have to raise £58 for insurance before I can entertain the passers-by with my wonderfully witty board! That’s definitely health and safety gone extremely mad – especially as my board has been in situ for three years already with no problems. If you have a minute, please email the Vauxhall office of the Big Issue and tell them how ridiculous all this is – thank you.