Ed#473: Christmas Edition 2014

8 December 2014 Alan Attwood

Ed#473: Christmas Edition 2014

Christmas comes but once a year… So once a year, in our own ways, we respect the traditions. A particular meal. A tree (or a tree substitute). Reunions. And, in the magazine, there is our present to you: seasonal messages from vendors. Not all arrive on time; some come in late on scraps of paper or scanned so they can be emailed, marked URGENT. We try to find room for all.

And each year a vendor becomes a cover star: this year it’s Mark from Adelaide, playing his part with aplomb. Special thanks here to Nat the photographer and Naomi and her team. From Mark himself came this message: “What a great year! I have moved into a Housing SA place; it is so good to get out of my boarding house… I got my handsome face on the Christmas-edition cover: I wanted to have a centrefold in my mankini, but that was knocked back!” Each year, I get the feeling that many vendors are auditioning for the prized role – even cultivating impressive Santa-style whiskers (like Paul F in Melbourne). Every year, too, we get nagged (politely) about squeezing in some particular photos. Points for effort go to Ray and the Geelong team who improvised their own photo shoot (see p22).

Every year, without fail, I am especially impressed by some of the messages – their sentiments, their style, their cheekiness. Like this one, from Drew in Sydney: “Those who buy the magazine aren’t looking for recognition or praise; they simply want to help another person and the magazine’s not terrible either.” I’ll take that as a compliment.

Some messages are beautifully simple: “My wish for 2015 is family reconciliation.” (Billy M from Brisbane.) Or pithily political: “My wish for 2015 is that the gap between rich and poor gets narrower.” (Ben, also from Brisbane.) In Canberra, Grant was pragmatic: “I bought some good shoes this year: selling on the street is hard on the feet and legs.”

Some messages reflect impressive ambition: “I’d like to get better with my music and play some more serious pieces, such as Chopin, Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich. I like playing the piano. It’s a big deal for me.” (Greg S from Adelaide.) Brian S, also from Adelaide, reminded me of our purpose: “I’ve had a really hard year, trying to get over my mum’s death. Selling The Big Issue means I can earn some extra cash to pay my bills, and it gets me out of the house.” Luke M, from the same city, sent a shout-out to his customers: “I really appreciate everyone who buys The Big Issue – it means I have a job.” Similarly, Darrin in Melbourne addressed his patrons: “It is because of people like you that Big Issue vendors are out there and trying to do their best.” Also in Melbourne, the inimitable Kimba aimed high: “Merry Christmas, one and all. All I want for Christmas is a VW Beetle and 650cc motorbike. Funny thing is, I asked this last year and I didn’t get them!”

In Perth, Frank reflected on the past year: “Heaps has happened in my life since last Christmas. My partner, Tiff, has had our wee baby girl, Ruby, and I have been featured with the family cat in The Big Issue’s 2015 calendar.” But let the last word be from Susie, who, with fellow Perth vendor John, starred on last year’s Christmas edition cover: “Thank you for supporting me and Georgie [her little dog]. “My hope for the New Year is to find a home to live in. It’s been a bit of a tough year but having The Big Issue has helped me get through.” To Susie, and her colleagues around the country, and to all of you: may Christmas be all you want it to be.

Alan Attwood, Editor