Interview by Alex Waygood, Joanna Engle and Christopher Hill
‘They’re horrible people, where I come from…’
There’s a man playing an electric keyboard on Cornmarket Street. He introduces himself: ‘Darren Potter, as in Harry Potter’.
Music is Darren’s life. He bought his keyboard in a charity shop, and has been teaching himself to play; we can see the note names inked onto the keys. We heard him playing ‘Swan Lake’ as we were walking up Cornmarket Street, but he’s not much of a Tchaikovsky fan – his favourite tune to play is ‘Greensleeves’.
But Darren really wants to play New Wave music, the music he grew up to – his favourites artists are Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, The Human League, Gary Newman and Depeche Mode. He has three Yamaha synths, but can’t yet play them – he’s still saving up for an amp. He wants to make his own music eventually.
Darren’s been in Oxford for nine years now, he tells us. No, wait – it’s seven; he remembers arriving in 2009. Originally from Cheltenham, he ended up here by chance. On his regular journey from Evesham to London, his Westie dog urgently needed the toilet, forcing him to stop at Oxford. He’s been here ever since.
He likes it here, though. ‘They’re horrible people, where I come from,’ he tells us. In Oxford, people are ‘well-spoken, decent… civilised’. He likes the community spirit, and says that the students are generally friendly. He tells us he was shocked by the number of bikes in Oxford after Cheltenham – Oxford’s ‘gotta be bike city’. His favourite place? Christ Church – it’s so historic.
Aside from music, Darren is also super-keen on airplanes – he has a model airplane, two model helicopters, and a jeep. ‘I prefer to be by myself,’ he says.
To find out more about homelessness in Oxford, you can visit http://www.oxhop.org.uk