I was born in Melbourne. I’ve got my mum. I’ve got my twin sister – I’m classed as older, by a couple of seconds, I think – and then I’ve got my little sister and my brother. My parents separated when I was young, around four or five.
I was living at my grandparents’, on and off since I was little because my mum was working, or she couldn’t afford the rent, so we stayed there. We were all close to them. My grandpa taught me to ride bikes and fish and all that. And my grandma was good, she bought me ice creams, and she taught me knitting. Mum taught me how to live. My dad died at 60, when I was 15 or 16. He had asbestos exposure from James Hardie.
I went to Concord School, a specialist school. I just was slow at learning. The people there were good. Then I went to Lalor North. I finished Year 10, then left. I just didn’t like school that much. When I went from Concord to Lalor North, people were just teasing too much. I didn’t feel good, and decided to leave.
I did a brick labouring apprenticeship for a year. That was alright. And odd jobs here and there: painting, bricklaying, working in a fruit shop.
I moved out when I was 18 or 19. I had nowhere to go – and they chuck you in a rooming house, which is no good. Now I live in a caravan at my mum’s. I prefer my own space.
When I was moving around everywhere, I decided to leave my cat with this guy Martin in a rooming house. I got Jacky when I was 14 or 15, from my mate across the road, when his cat had babies. She was my cat. My mum said, why don’t you leave her with Martin? And then one night, I was catching a tram back home and I just got talking to this guy. He said he was staying in a rooming house in Brunswick, and I asked, like where? And he said my one. I go, “How is Martin? He’s taking care of my cat.” He goes, he died. This is not even three or four weeks after I moved out. I jumped off the tram to race to the house, and my cat is almost doing circles in the backyard. I called her, I grabbed her, and I took her home. I shouldn’t have left her there. But if I had never spoken to this guy, I would not know. That’s some kinda divine intervention.
I like playing RuneScape. I’ve been playing RuneScape for 15 years. It’s a role-playing game. I like talking to other players and doing my own thing, and making a lot of gold in the game.
I’ve been selling The Big Issue for seven or eight years. It has helped me with money, because before that, I had no money. My Centrelink went straight to rent. I’ll sell The Big Issue until I can get a house and get a girlfriend, and that’s about it, I guess.
James sells The Big Issue on Bourke Street Mall, Melbourne.
Interview by Amy Hetherington.
Photo by James Braund.