October 10th, 2020Journalist, paperboy… living the dream
Growing up in this environment formed influences in me that remain difficult to reconcile. On the one hand I was imbued with a strong interest in global art and culture alongside a love/hate relationship with all things regional. This schism remains with me to this day.
By the time I was in my late teens and ready to make my own decisions on what to do and where to go with my life, I was only certain of one thing. I did not want to stay on the land training horses and feeding cattle, I needed to find out what was beyond the farm gate.
I bolted for the nearest big city (Melbourne) on the pretense of studying and remained there long after tertiary studies fell by the wayside. This led to other cities both here and abroad where I indulged in bohemian time wasting, dole bludging, casual work, travel and romance (or messed-up versions of it).
Usually I’m fairly circumspect about going into specifics regarding this time but it did cover over two decades, and such a large chunk of living deserves some elaboration. Even if it’s just for my dear readers of The Local.
Essentially, I fell in with activists and artists covering a broad gamut of left-wing causes and ideologies accompanied by a soundtrack of punk, death metal, noise and electronica. It was interesting enough but in hindsight, I don’t know really what good I got from it all. At a grassroots level politics and art frequently overlap but I found the latter usually came away badly diminished by it.
Squats, collective spaces, travelling activist circuses and sound system culture tend to reduce creativity to sloganeering at best and incomprehensible nihilism at worst. In short, art should be greater than the social causes that influence it and deserves a greater reach than a bombed-out audience at Rainbow Festival.
That’s why I eventually went back to uni to get a better understanding of how visual culture (my specialty) fits into the greater scheme of life and history. I don’t know if I succeeded, but one thing’s for sure; I did learn how to do proper research and string sentences together.
However, the way forward from these studies was not some ‘sendero luminoso’ to a glamorous writing career. It took me instead on a goat track peppered with lots of temporary casual jobs; doing everything from pushing road cases to working as an illustrator and cartoonist. Moving back to the bush didn’t help and I continue to work drafting cattle and look after chickens when things get quiet.
I wouldn’t have it any other way though and living out here has led to me working for The Local. While years ago I did do high school work experience at the Benalla Ensign, sweeping, picking border tape off the floor and pecking out briefs for a foul-mouthed editor, I never thought I would wind up wearing a journalist’s hat.
But in 2015 I read an advert in some fortnightly publication asking for someone to sell advertising. I decided to ring up and introduced myself to a fella called Kyle, “I’m not a sales person but I can write stories. What about horses?” He knew straight away I would be good for their paper and I began covering everything from giant cows to marauding geese. Today I have risen through the ranks and work as their paperboy. Dare to dream.
Words: Tony Sawrey