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20 September 2018

Bob C

Bob C sells The Big Issue at Kings Cross Markets and Circular Quay, Sydney.

I was born in a delightful hamlet in outback Queensland in a town called Thargomindah. It has a population of 250 and always has. It has no doctor, one pub, a shire office and two cemeteries. Even though I’ve been away for 30 years, I’ll still walk back into that pub like a local.

I accept that I’m in this position because of mostly my own stupid decisions. For years I abused alcohol as a way to deaden the pain. While some things about drinking are good fun, the pain is still there when you sober up. I know I could have been a lot more sensible with money, I could have drunk a lot less…hundreds of things I could have done differently. I could have dealt with childhood trauma a lot earlier.

I was sent to boarding school in Brisbane when I was nine. I was sexually abused. It is an experience that does terrible things to a person. I never told anyone about it, including my partners or my family, until both my parents passed away.

I couldn’t stay at school after that. So, I went back to my little country town to work in the shire office for three years. I loved that experience as I got to reconnect with my parents, but I realised that I was undereducated so I decided to go back to Brisbane and finish my HSC. Since then I have lived and worked in Canberra, Hobart and Melbourne. I eventually moved to Sydney with my sister and her family after my father passed away around 30 years ago. We all live within a five-minute circuit of one another, and we are all fond of one another.

I don’t think my family will ever leave me in the lurch, but I don’t want them to keep paying for me. My sister supplied me with food for 12 months, and her daughter did too. One of the other daughters paid my rent when I couldn’t. But I want to earn my own money, so I sell The Big Issue.

I am living on the age pension and pay 75 per cent of my income in rent. While many people may consider my flat cheap, if it increases any more I won’t manage. That’s why I’m doing The Big Issue.

I would desperately love to get a job but some time ago I accepted I wouldn’t. I had one interview in two years. I’m still applying for jobs, I even applied for two last week.

I’m also trying to do walking tours. I’ve done a few. They are about the crime and sex scene around Kings Cross and Oxford Street. I think it could be a great thing to try and combat homophobia as well, because I lead them wearing my tutu.

I read a lot and I like writing as well. I wouldn’t say that I have many ambitions, I’m getting old now. I’d like to stay healthy, and would like to keep selling The Big Issue and getting my walking tours going. I am very grateful for the support from my family and community. Thank you all.

Photo by Peter Holcroft

Interview by Sam Clark