Sarah Jane Lynch (on twitter) is s putting together a project on Moseley, its history and community over the last 100 years — she started by interviewing Pete the Feet…
Pete Mckenzie, better known as Pete the Feet, aged 64 has been propping up the bars of Moseley, Birmingham since the hedonistic days of the sixties. His resilience against the norm of wearing footwear, the fact he has created his own merchandise in form of homemade lighters and purses which he carries everywhere, and not least his warm and friendly nature have made him into something of a local legend.
For many Pete is an iconic figure. He isn’t one of the many millions on the social networking site, Facebook, but a group set up in his honour has attracted over 1000 members. He has had a song written about him by local band ‘Katlama’ and was even voted the ‘most famous Midlander who isn’t actually famous’ in a radio poll. I caught up with Pete to unveil the real man behind the legend and to
discuss his love of Moseley, the corner of Birmingham he is synonymous with.
“ I came here I was about 20, I’d travelled all over the world after joining the navy at 17” Say’s Pete “ I’d been travelling around this country looking for where I wanted to live, once I arrived in Moseley , I thought I had arrived there. When I first arrived it was something like 60 per cent female! I became involved in the Moseley festival, which was a lot bigger in those days”
Pete then met his wife, Jennifer, and married in 1970, they are still together today. He went on to have a daughter and three grandchildren.
“I like Moseley because the people are very cosmopolitan – that is what got me. I like all people. There is nowhere else like it, nowhere else I would rather be”
Pete has now been part of the furniture in Moseley for many years, but a common myth that he had never left the village is completely unfounded:
“For starters I was born in Lancashire!” laughs Pete “ I like to travel but I don’t go abroad any more because they don’t do real ale, and there’s parts of this country I haven’t seen yet. I think it’s important to get a real feel for a place and you can’t do that if you only go on a short holiday, you have to stay for a while and get to know the place and it’s people properly”
And this is exactly what Pete has done in Moseley, visiting each of the pubs for stints at a time, he has got to know the area and it’s residents like the back of his hand.
“ I only like to visit one pub at a time, how some people visit a few in a night, I don’t like to do that. I would rather just stick to one for a few weeks. At the moment I like The Junction, but my favourite was always The Trafalgar”
“ Moseley as a whole has changed though, it used to be more of a village atmosphere. It was a very studenty type place, with lots of house parties. What went on the house parties could never go to print though – it was the sixties! These days students don’t have the money to do that, they have to study for their degree”
Pete looks right at home with a pint of Speckled Hen, poured in his very own glass decorated with two feet, his very own logo. This can also be found larger on a mirror behind the bar and a smaller in front of the bar marking out Pete’s own spot. Wearing a cowboy hat, and with bright pink toenails. Pete is ever the eccentric and by the queue of regulars wishing to by the man a pint, it is clear that his popularity will never wither.
The question begs however, what is Pete’s massive aversion to shoes? Even with this winters cold spell, he was trudging bravely along barefooted.
“ I just don’t like them, I never have” He smiles “ Back in the day, no one wore them, it was normal then. I haven’t worn them for years. I’m used to it now, the snow’s not cold it jus feels soft under my toe’s. Plus if I’m wearing shoes I feel like I want to kick people, so it’s probably best not to. I’ve done some crazy things when I’ve been wearing shoes!”
Moseley is just a small proportion of the City, but just this area alone is packed with a rich heritage and culture is the only home for Pete. He is just one of the many quirky characters that contribute to Birmingham as a unique and dynamic city.