I grew up in Greenacres, stayed there until Mum and Dad retired. I was probably nine years old when we moved to Moonta and I became a country boy.
I wasn’t terrific at school. I wasn’t attentive, and I learned in my mid-to-late thirties that I have ADD. It affected my interaction with the curriculum. I discovered my intellectual capacity after school, but I always loved science.
When I was in my country-boy phase, I wanted to be a beekeeper. I had about 20 hives. My father was an industrialist – he was very responsible and work-oriented. He was turning my hobby into work. I was doing it because I was interested in bees. Then I had a bad year when there was a heatwave. All but three of the hives completely collapsed, melted out. It was a hell of a mess. He said, “You’re not thinking of quitting, are you?” And I said, “Well, now that you mention it…” It’s like he put the thought in my head, and I quit because of that whole mess. But I don’t regret being a country boy. I think every kid needs to know what it’s like to be out in the country.
I moved back to the city when I was 16 years old. In my twenties, I had a job as an offsider in a truck that delivered explosives all over the country. I was there to clean the truck, fuel it, change the signs, help load and unload, and keep the driver company. You’re sitting there for nine hours, so I’d go into bookshops and buy a bag-full of books – cosmology, chaos theory, quantum mechanics, things like that. Got right into Popular Science. That’s how I came to have an interest in writing. I didn’t have any science qualifications, but I thought, I could write something about the nuts and bolts of certain areas. I came to The Big Issue with a bit of an inclination to explore that, but I ended up selling the magazine instead.
I did need to make some money, so I thought, Well, why not? You could be having a meh sort of day and people stop to chat with you. They cheer you up, and you cheer them up. It’s more than just a commercial transaction.
The Big Issue’s always been there for me. They’ll always welcome you back with open arms. When I need something, it’s helped me pull myself up by the bootstraps. It’s reliable; it’s a support system. That’s why I love being able to come back. I used to have a little joke: when I came back the second or third time, I announced that I was “the periodical son”, because I’d come back periodically, and I do sell a periodical.
This time I’ve been a bit more engaged in the social aspects, too. I go to the littles dos, the quiz, the big breakfasts. I’d never been to Street Soccer before, but I went down there. I think I’ll turn up a little more to those sorts of things.
Steve C sells The Big Issue at Topham Mall, Adelaide
Interview by Aimee Knight
Photo by Craig Arnold
Published in Ed#704