I was born in Elwood in Melbourne – and I’m still there. I’m living with a lady friend who I’ve known for 40 years now. We’re very compatible. So close. But we’re not married, just good friends. Her son is at my place as well – I’m his godfather.
About 10 years ago, a friend said to me, “I’ve got something to tell you, Greg. You’ve been adopted.” I found it hard to believe until we found out about it at Births, Deaths and Marriages. They’ve got my birth mum’s name and my real name – I was named Greg by my adopted parents. They had passed on when I found out. It was a big shock. I could have brothers and sisters, who knows? I will eventually look for them, when I’m ready.
I was bullied at school. And I got bashed by a teacher…yeah, I had a bad time at school. I had a couple of nice teachers to start with, and then this teacher came in. He was no good. He even had a fight with another teacher. Then I went to a special school when I was 13 or 14. I found it a lot easier there. I should’ve gone there in the first place.
The specialist school got me my first job when I was 15. I made door frames for seven months until I hit myself on the head with a big blade. It put me off. I’ve worked at the Brotherhood of St Laurence, a bottle yard and at a car wash. You’re not going to believe this, but I had said if I’m going to see that teacher again, I’m going to hit him. I ended up washing his car, would you believe?! But I’ve never hit anyone…
I love music. I saw all the bands you could think of in the 60s and 70s: Paul McCartney, John Denver, Suzi Quatro, the Doobie Brothers, the Hollies, the Bee Gees, Manfred Mann, the Kinks. I play music but I don’t play guitar much now. My first band was called Crystal Key. We were a three piece, this is in the early 70s, and we played a few gigs at pubs and places like that. We played all this stuff that was around at the time – Creedence Clearwater Revival, the Beatles, the Stones, the Kinks.
My lady friend got me interested in selling The Big Issue, seven years ago. She thought it would be good for me to be doing something – I hadn’t had a job for quite a few years before that. I’ve met so many lovely people selling The Big Issue. Including celebrities. I’ve met Ken James from Skippy, Magda Szubanski, Judith Lucy, the guitarist from Spiderbait. I have so many regulars, I can talk for hours with them. They are very lovely people. It’s a very good spot in Melbourne. One of the best.
I’m 66 and I feel better in my sixties than I did in my twenties. I’m on medication for anxiety and panic attacks. My first panic attack was when I was 12. It was pretty serious. But the medication stops that. It helps a lot.
The best thing about selling The Big Issue is the enjoyment I get out of selling, and the money. It goes towards bills and stuff for the house. Thanks to all my customers for buying the magazine. I enjoy the job very much. It’s one of the best jobs I’ve ever had.
Greg sells The Big Issue at Carlisle Street, Balaclava, Melbourne.
Interview by Anastasia Safioleas.
Photo by James Braund.