I was born in Subiaco and spent my early years growing up in Perth. When my dad got a job as a labourer we started to move around a lot. I reckon I must have been to about a hundred different schools. Me and school were not the best fit and I couldn’t wait to get out of there.
I dropped out of school when I was 13 and went and worked on a market garden. I did that for six years; I really enjoyed the job and liked my workmates. My next job was bloody hard – I worked at an abattoir. After a few years I decided to hit the road; I just stuck my thumb out and hitchhiked around the country.
After spending some time in Victoria, I moved around the east coast living a bit of a hippie life. For a while I lived in Kuranda in Queensland; they were good times. One day up in Cairns I was looking for work and ended up joining the sideshow, working the dodgem cars. I travelled with the show for almost 10 years.
Working with the carnival was a good lifestyle. I loved meeting all the people in different towns and seeing the country. When the carnival went to Camperdown, in Victoria, I met my wife. I decided it was time to stop moving around and we settled in Victoria. I stayed there for eight years, and we had two kids, a boy and a girl.
My mum became very ill and I decided it was time to come back to WA and spend some time with Mum and help take care of her. I also have four sisters, but sadly three of them have passed away.
I always worked hard, and I’ve had a pretty adventurous life, but after I retired things got a bit tough. I ended up doing a lot of begging, but I was getting so much hassle that one day I said to myself there’s got to be something better than this.
I saw a vendor selling The Big Issue and went over and asked her “How do I get in on this?” And as they say, the rest is history. That was three years ago, and I still love being involved with The Big Issue. Selling the magazine gets me out of the house, it offers me independence and freedom. The best thing about it is that I get to meet all sorts of people. People always stop and have a chat.
I love to listen to music from the 60s while I’m on my pitch, and that often catches people’s ear and gets them talking. I sell out the front of a store called Joynt Venture, and the staff always look out for me. They love music as much as I do.
In 2021, I was really looking forward to a visit from my ex-wife and daughter, but COVID put a stop to that. I’m hoping that everyone stays healthy, but I’m really looking forward to the borders opening up, and I don’t want any more lockdowns.
I’m 74 now and I’m looking forward to a few more good years selling The Big Issue. I just really like doing it.
David sells The Big issue at Northbridge, Perth.
Interview by Chad Hedley.
Photo by Ross Swanborough.