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21 January 2015

Malcolm

I grew up in Perth in Middle Swan, but I don’t remember much of it. Just a normal life. Mum and one sister – my father walked out when I was about two years old.

I went to a special school in Kensington. I was very slow at learning, had a difficulty. I went okay at reading and writing – well, writing I’m not too crash hot on. I’m okay with numbers.

I left school when I was 18, started the fruit packing, stacking potatoes, drove the forklift. I learned to drive it during a course at Fremantle Port Authority.

After that I had various jobs. I moved up to the supermarkets about 2000, and worked for many of the Coles supermarkets – mainly packing shelves. Then I moved out to customer service, as a checkout operator.

There was quite a long time after that when I was on a pension. This was because I couldn’t find any jobs, no suitable work.

One of my friends, now an ex-vendor, got me into The Big Issue. I started in November 2013. It was pretty slow at first, but after a few days it picked up and I started getting more sales.

I sell the magazine at Raine Square or on St Georges Terrace, opposite the Supreme Court Gardens. I start about seven o’clock in the morning and do till 9am on St Georges, then move up to the Art Gallery bridge, just by the train station, till about 1pm. I say, ‘Good morning, Big Issue’, and say what’s in the magazine, the articles. I read the cover story and tell people.

I’ve got a few regular customers who stop by for a chat and all that; it’s pretty good. You have your good days and bad days, and you’ve got to learn to live with it. I’m trying to save up for an iPad. That will probably come sometime in 2015.

I live in a shared residence, with our own room and shared kitchen and laundry. We do it all, our own cooking! I wouldn’t say I was a five-star restaurant

cook, but I can make a decent meal. Most Friday nights for dinner I go to my mum’s place, when my sister is free. I don’t drive, so she will pick me up and take me.

At home I generally watch DVDs. I’m a big fan of Hogan’s Heroes, and I’ve got a full set of them. I’ve got seven seasons of The Simpsons and a full set of ’Allo ’Allo! When I’m not watching them I put my Xbox 360 games on – I love the army games and Mafia, stuff like that.

I want to send out a special thank you to all my customers. Sometimes they will ask me if I would  like a cold drink. Once people get to know you and you see them all the time, they generally help you out if they can.

I suppose I’ll just sell The Big Issue till they take me away in a wheelchair, or a hospital gurney!

Interview by Peter Ascot
Malcolm sells The Big Issue at Raine Square, St Georges Terrace and the Art Gallery Bridge, Perth.