Ed#438 Love My Neighbour

2 August 2013 Melissa Cranenburgh

Ed#438 Love My Neighbour

Next to this page sits our ‘Vendor Profile’. On it, edition after edition, are tales of the most extraordinary lives: those of the people you may see – every day, a few times a week, once a fortnight – on the streets of your city, holding up a copy of the latest Big Issue. On this page, and the ‘Streetsheet’ page that follows, vendors have told of their formative years and the ones that led them here. They’ve recounted the highs, the lows, the epic yarns and everyday pleasures. But one thing you can count on in every issue is a reminder of the connections people have made through selling The Big Issue – important relationships with other vendors, with staff at The Big Issue offices around the country, and with the people who buy and read the magazine. So…I guess that makes us all part of the life – the lives – we’re reading about.

Within this Big Issue community – because that’s what it’s become – we have witnessed each other’s brisk selling days and frustrating slow ones, great loves and difficult break-ups, achievements and setbacks, pregnancies and…deaths. That last one can hit us hard. Over the past few weeks we have farewelled three of our longest-serving vendors. One, James – better known as Les to his Melbourne friends and colleagues – we commemorated on the ‘Streetsheet’ page last edition (Ed#437). Another – Raph, originally from Cuba, became one of the first Queenslanders to sell The Big Issue. Since Raph’s death in mid-July, the Brisbane vendor office has been flooded with fond remembrances from vendors and customers alike (see ‘Streetsheet’, p7, and ‘Your Say’, p10). And, finally, there’s Gerald – a pioneering Perth vendor who died, in late July, as we were putting the finishing touches on this edition of the magazine. A founding member of The Big Issue’s Spirit of the Streets choir, Gerald was a particularly active member of his community. As Perth vendor support worker Naomi writes, “He…will be remembered as a well-loved, larger than life personality by all who knew him. Gerald – you will be missed.” Vale.


You may be thrice divorced and severely allergic to roses, yet still enjoy a good rom-com – strictly for the laughs, of course. After all, you don’t have to be a cop or a killer to fancy a police procedural. No one would assume that a mostly vegetarian editor who guiltily enjoys the odd two-part episode of forensic thriller Silent Witness really spends her evenings at the local morgue. (Or does she?) No. Romantic fiction is just that, fiction. The kind of fiction where things often end up smelling rosy. In our cover story, ‘Addicted to Love’ (p14), a defender of the romance genre, blogger Kat Mayo, wags her finger at critics who take issue with the ubiquitous happy ending: “The optimistic ending is no more or less realistic than any other kind of ending,” she says. “They’re all fiction.” But, it’s how romances reach the happy ending that annoys some. As film critic Thomas Caldwell complains, Hollywood rom-coms are “churned out and repeated without any diversity. I’m increasingly at the point where I feel short-changed”. Written by novelist Toni Jordan – herself an avowed love addict – this cover story will give readers a good sense of why some are attracted and others repelled by romance on the page and screen. And carrying our love theme to the saucier end of the spectrum in ‘Sex and the Scribe’ (p19), author Nicki Reed – whose novel Unzipped earned her a reputation as a writer of erotic fiction – explains the pleasures and pitfalls of writing sexy stuff, and the frustrations of being put on the same shelf as Fifty Shades… Read on. You may even find that special story you’ve been waiting for.