I was four when I moved to Adelaide. I was born in Peterborough – my home town was just nearby. I have only been back a couple of times for Christmas, back when Dad was still alive. This was quite a few years back.

I have four brothers and three sisters. We live all over the place now. I am closest with my younger brother John, who lives in Mount Gambier. When John comes to Adelaide, we go out for a meal together. I have another brother in Victoria and two sisters here in Adelaide and the other sister in Kangaroo Island. I also have lots of nephews and nieces – too many to count! I even have a great-niece.

My childhood wasn’t all nice. We had some bad times growing up. Family violence – some stuff I wouldn’t like to repeat or talk about. But we made it out, all on our own. That’s how we’ve ended up scattered everywhere across so many places.

I went to primary school here in Goodwood, then high school up near Kilburn. I didn’t like school too much. I hated it! It was the teachers I was not too happy with. One teacher, in particular.

I had friends at school, but I lost contact with them. I think some of them went off to do similar things as I did probably. When I left school, I first started work down on Henley Beach Road. I would have been 15 or 16 – it’s hard to remember. It’s too far back.

I used to work in carpentry, in a furniture warehouse, making bed frames and tables and things like that. I used to work on the twin saw – which was dangerous! They had to have protection gear of course. I used to cut the timber pieces down to the size they wanted. I was a leading hand back then – the person who helps and shows other people what to do. I worked for them for about nine years.

I started working for The Big Issue in 2014. I heard about it from a friend of a friend who was a vendor years ago. I get along well with most of the other vendors, and I have missed not being able to have our vendor breakfasts due to COVID. I look forward to being able to have those breakfast meetings again – they’re a lot of fun.

I save most of my Big Issue money for a rainy day. I could save for a holiday. I might go to Darwin to see what it’s like up there.

I like to listen to music: rock’n’roll or country music is what I love. I always have.

I’ve had lots of different pets: dogs, cats and birds. My favourite was a dog I had called Susie. A small German shepherd cross. She was pretty smart. I trained her to walk, to heel without a lead.

I like my pitch and I have loads of friends and people to talk to me. I have quite a few regular customers. I like meeting other people and making friends. I like to help other people and I know a lot about local Adelaide.


Fred sells The Big Issue at Bupa Dental in Adelaide CBD.

Interview by Erica Rees
Photo by Nat Rogers