I was in Melbourne for the first eight or nine years of my life. Then we moved to South Australia. Things didn’t work out between my mum and my dad, so they separated, and both got remarried. I have an older sister, and we’re pretty close.

There were a few hiccups in the family, not with my actual dad. I was living with my mum and that… I had to put my safety first, and so ended up going into the welfare system. So from the age of 13 upwards, I’ve virtually been bringing myself up.

I went to school until I was about 15, then tried my hand at a couple of different odd jobs and that: deckhand, stablehand, and I used to make a fair bit of money collecting cans and bottles.

I decided to come back to Melbourne when I was roughly 16 or 17. I was living with my aunty, and my mum and sister moved over a couple of months after me. I got a job as a stablehand again, then I got other jobs, like asparagus packing, bit of factory work here and there, bit of lawn mowing.

I tried to do a TAFE course – that’s how I met my wife. She was going to TAFE, and I met her on the train. But I never actually approached her, because I used to be really, really shy of girls. I found out that she knew my sister and my mum, from church. And my mum turned around and told Katrina how I felt and it just happened from there.

Now I’m happily married with a wife and a 15-year-old son. Being a dad is very, very exciting, and keeps you on your toes. But he’s a pretty quiet, good kid.

When I was younger, I used to play the violin. My wife, for one of my birthdays, bought me a violin, which I couldn’t tune properly, so I put it away. But I’ve just found someone that’s cheap enough for me to take lessons up again. So yesterday, I had my first lesson. I actually picked it up pretty quick.

I love fishing and camping. But being on dialysis three days a week, I haven’t been able to go away for a holiday. I first started dialysis in 1999. I had one kidney transplant that was fine for a while, and then failed. So I ended up back on dialysis in 2014. Now I’m trying to get back on the transplant list again.

I’ve been selling The Big Issue since roughly about April last year. My dad Ron sells it in Adelaide. It helps me financially. It helps me feel good about myself – if I sit around home, then I get depressed. It helps me because I’m the type of person if I want something, I hate asking for help, I’d rather work for it, so that way I can say I’ve earnt it. It’s one of the skills I’m trying to teach my son: if you want something, you work and save for it, that way you appreciate it a lot more. But also, The Big Issue gets me out in the community a bit more, and gives me a purpose in life to do something and that. I’m thankful that The Big Issue is around.

Bradley sells The Big Issue at cnr Swanston and Little Collins Sts, Melbourne

Interview by Amy Hetherington
Photo by James Braund
Published in Ed#668