I’ve been selling the magazine for 25 years, and in September I’ll be celebrating 11 years of selling in Concord. I’m really proud to see the evolution of the magazine, and my evolution as a person too.
The thing that’s been the hardest is my mum passed away four years ago. Mum had me when she was 22. And because of my cleft palate, she had to really focus on me and my operations and stuff like that. When Mum and Dad divorced, Mum raised myself and my sister on the parenting pension – that’s hard going. That’s probably where I learned a lot of my lessons in life, particularly my budgeting skills. Because whilst we never had a great deal of money, things always got paid, and we always had food.
School was hard for me. Mum always used to say “Just do the best you can. Failure is a part of life; don’t be scared to fail. So long as you’ve had a crack.” Because of the support of my friends and teachers I was able to finish Year 12.
I love my pitch in Concord. It’s a little village, a busy little strip. And my customers, they’re like family now. Even people who don’t buy from me, they stop and say g’day. I get lots of puppy dog pats too. I can’t have a dog in the boarding house where I live, so it’s good to get some therapy while I’m working.
Selling The Big Issue and being a Classroom speaker has given me a reason to get out of bed in the morning. It’s given me a routine and structure. It’s one of my coping mechanisms for my bipolar as well. I’ve been doing the Classroom for 11 years now, and even though it can be a bit tough sometimes, I’m at that age where I do feel comfortable talking about it. My attitude has always been if I get through to one kid then that’s been worth the effort, you know?
One of my customers said to me once that I should write a Letter to My Younger Self. And I said, with all the greatest respect, if I did that, I’d have to dig up some stuff that I don’t really want to recall. I always joke with people that hell doesn’t scare me, because I’ve already been there and I got kicked out.
I love my motorsport. I’m a volunteer marshal, have been since I was 14. Motorsport’s been a lifelong thing because my dad raced speedway when I was a baby. And when he was marshalling at the tracks, I was always there.
The Big Issue journey has been half my life. I still love doing it. It’s the best job I’ve ever had and it’s the hardest job I’ve ever had. I’ve got to meet a lot of different people. I had a brush with the Dalai Lama – that’s one of the biggest things to happen to me, ever.
My big plan now is saving up for my 50th next year because I’d really like to go home to Tassie, where I grew up, and celebrate with friends and have a proper party. You only turn 50 once!
Marcus sells The Big Issue in Concord, Sydney
Interview by Melissa Fulton
Photo by Michael Quelch