Location: New South Wales, Australia
Date: 1967 - 1969

Posted November 2010.

In 1967, I was fired from Long John's. I can't remember why exactly but it may have had something to do with my boss's wife who bought me a copy of Dale Carnegie's How To Win Friends And Influence People. She wasn't the only one who suggested I lacked certain social skills - or perhaps boss skills. My former boss at the Registrar General's Department told me never to darken his doorstep again. I think he was seriously peeved about people phoning the RG's to book my band, Climax. For the life of me I couldn't understand what was wrong with having the Registrar General's phone number printed on my Climax business card.

So, what to do? I had a 1967 Beetle so I applied for a driving instructor's license and got a job with Barnes Driving School. There are quite a few hair-raising stories I could tell about that job but that will have to wait for another time. I finally quit in disgust one day after the Beetle's battery went flat during a driving test. The testing officer walked several blocks back to the police station (it was the cops who tested learners back in those days), leaving my student sitting in the car wondering what the hell was happening. By the time I arrived, she was distraught. Students are under a great deal of pressure when they go for a test. She was in tears and I was furious. I apologized profusely, gave her her money back, drove her home, and went to Barnes to tell them I'd had enough of heartless asshole cops.

A bloke had to earn a living so I applied for a job at a shirt shop in Bankstown Square. Fell madly in love with the young MGB-driving window-dresser there but that's another story. One day the boss overheard me telling a customer that the cheap shirts were crap and not to buy them. I was sent to the shopping-center personnel officer who told me to start work in the hardware department. The manager of the hardware department handed me a broom and told me to sweep the joint, so I took the broom back to the personnel officer and told her to ride it to the moon. And that was that. How to win friends and influence people.

Next, I applied for a job at the Department of Motor Transport (now the Roads and Traffic Authority), Roseberry and told a fib about having learned my lesson and wanting to get back into the Public Service with a secure job and career. Meanwhile, I was still managing a band, this time the Dynamics. I arranged for them to appear on Channel Ten's New Faces. They sang the Monkees' song Cuddly Toy. The feedback was great and I took a lot of bookings for the band, mainly because the lead singer/guitarist Brian was a honey. I did have a photo of that TV performance but I sent it to Brian some years ago, dangit.

Anyway, the success of the Dynamics' appearance on New Faces got me to thinking that maybe I could try out the announcer spot.

Can't remember how much it was. The announcer spot involved the contestant sitting on a stool in the middle of a huge studio in front of a live audience, talking to the camera about the channel's upcoming programs that night... a sort of ad-lib promo. Before the show, they gave me a bunch of typed sheets that outlined that night's programs. I was supposed to familiarize myself with the content and then do a 60-second ad-lib in front of the camera as I occasionally referred to the typed notes. Yeah, right. I wasn't that silly. The previous night at home, I got the TV Times and wrote my own script. If there had been a late change in the program line-up that was too bad. I wasn't gonna deviate one iota from my memorized script.

The floor manager gave me instructions. When the camera's red light was on, that was my cue to start talking. The floor manager said he would signal when I was half way through at the 30-second mark, and then wind me up at 60 seconds. Fine. No worries. I was a bit put off by the previous act... a trick dog that piddled on the studio floor. I had to wait for the cleaner with his mop and bucket to get rid of the mess before the program resumed. It was video taped on a Sunday afternoon, and telecast later that night.

So the red light came on and away I went, reciting my memorized script and glancing occasionally at my typed notes just like a real pro. Then I saw the floor manager's hand signal out of the corner of my eye. My heart was pounding and I was terrified. It seemed to me like I'd been talking forever so I thought I'd reached the end of the 60 seconds. Nope. I'd stopped when I was only half way through. "Is there a problem, Gary?" the adjudicator Bob Rogers asked. "I thought it was all over," I blurted. "No, you're only half way through." Oops! Well, my brain was shot, and I couldn't remember where I'd left off. There was no way I could pick up the thread. But Bob Rogers came to my rescue and said, "No problem, Gary. What we heard so far was very good, and it's obvious that you have a career ahead of you in broadcasting."

Available? Me? Was he kidding?

Well, that wasn't so bad. Shortly afterward I got a job as booth announcer on The Marriage Game with Malcolm Searle, which is where I learned, albeit too late, to pronounce Noritake dinnerware correctly.

Scrapbook Part 3
Return to Home Page