The Big Issue : Edition 470
THEBIGISSUE24OCT–6NOV2014 5 VENDOR PROFILE MARK SELLS THE BIG ISSUE AT THE CORNER OF PIRIE ST & GAWLER PLACE, ADELAIDE YOU KNOW, ONCE I was a real wild bastard. And even up to when I turned 50 I thought I’d grow old disgracefully. Then, six months ago, I came back to Adelaide and totally changed my life around. Instead of being a wild man, doing The Big Issue has put some direction and discipline in my life. I grew up in the northeast suburbs, Tea Tree Gully way. Both my parents remarried and found happiness second time around. I’ve got a brother and two sisters, but I don’t keep in contact with them. They think they’re well balanced, because they’ve got a chip on each shoulder! I was educated at Rostrevor College, but in Year 10 they asked me to leave. [They] rang up my parents and said I was wasting their money and the school’s time. I went to a technical college for a few months, then got a dead-end job in the motor trade. After a year [of that] my old man gave me an apprenticeship in the family butcher shop. That was in 1978 – I’ve still got all my fingers! But I had to retire for health reasons, and then I drove taxis, did barwork, fruit picking...all sorts of things. I got put on a pension years ago for chronic alcohol abuse, and I used to be a firm believer in drug testing – namely, what drugs are we testing out today? But it was more so that alcohol was my favourite poison. I’ve had three trips up to the Territory; lived in Port Lincoln, Coffin Bay [both in SA]; spent the last five years in Melbourne. A friend of mine was selling The Big Issue there – I made enquiries, but I never got around to doing it. I came back to Adelaide ’cos my old man was really crook, and I got the induction course done and started selling. I normally work seven days a week, mostly at a new pitch on the corner of Gawler Place and Pirie Street, outside the NAB. I’m getting regular customers – a lot of the businesspeople like the magazine and now they can walk out of their business and find a vendor on the way to the coffee shop. I’ve got a big personality and a big work ethic – they treat me as another one of the workers down Pirie Street now. Material wise I’ve got bugger all, but since I’ve been doing this I’ve bought myself a good camera and a watch, so I have something to show for the money that I’ve earned. Most of the time, for enjoyment, I grab the camera and go take some photos. Or I’ve got my head in a good book. I’ve normally got both a fiction and non-fiction book on the go. They put me back on the pension a couple of years ago for emphysema and this is the only job I’m capable of doing now. I get puffed out real easy – it was 35 years of smoking cigarettes and marijuana, so I’ve just about got the lungs of an 80-year-old. I’ll be alright for a while; don’t have to drag an oxygen bottle around with me yet! interview by Peter Ascot photograph by Nat Rogers.