Location: New South Wales, Australia
Date: 1979-1983

Posted December 2010

After Gregg Sinclair from my old 2GB days read my last post, he wrote: Mate - that final entry on the 2GB scrapbook page is just too funny! I'm honoured to be included.......I think.

Well, well, well, yet another job. Mind you, if I'd stayed with the Registrar General's Department until retirement, this scrapbook would be a helluva lot shorter and, dare I say, far less interesting.

There was no room at the old 2UE building on the corner of Miller and McLaren, North Sydney, for a copywriter so the boss installed a desk and a manual typewriter in the basement locker/lunch room, adjacent to the undercover carpark and next to the toilets. How flash! Actually, I didn't mind at all. My little hideaway was far from all the hustle and bustle of the main offices and studios upstairs, and I could pretty much run my own race. Speaking of which, every time I wrote a script I'd race up the stairs, two at a time, which kept me fit.

Photo 'Courtesy of North Sydney Heritage Centre collection, Stanton Library'

This is the corner of Miller and McLaren today. The current apartment building occupies the old 2UE site as well as its rear open-air carpark created after an old house there had been demolished. 2UE moved to a rented premises at Greenwich in the early 90s by which time I'd fled.

One of the reasons I bought a house in Glebe was because it was within walking distance of 2GB in Sussex St, Sydney. Now, I had to drive all the way to North Sydney across the Harbor Bridge in peak hour traffic! Well, I did after I decided to buy a car. I went to a small used car dealer close to Glebe to check out a VW Beetle he advertised for sale. When I arrived I saw a '67 VE Valiant. It was $1200 and looked okay. It had widened chrome wheels. So I bought the Valiant instead of the Beetle. And it was cheaper! That was the third Valiant so far, and I wasn't even interested in Valiants! (Web pic - mine didn't have mags or that green stripe at the back). But having wheels again was cool.

Life at 2UE was pretty good. I had lots of friends with whom I had one particular thing in common. Booze. You can see my dog Kelly in pic #1. She was part of the group. The young blond bloke, Jared, to the right of Kelly went on to became a major star in TV soapies. The bloke seated in pic #2, and at the head of the table in pic #3, was the garage attendant and dog's body at 2UE. We became great mates. He later became the boss's chauffeur and knew more about the goings on at 2UE than anyone except the chairman. Hehe. The group of us in 2&3 had formed a club with some silly name. I can't remember what it was. The club's main objective was to have monthly meetings at the North Sydney Rugby Club which were nothing more than an excuse for a booze up. "Right, motion passed, let's order the grog."

I just phoned the young bearded bloke second from the left, Bradley Power. (I always called him Bradwell). I asked him if he remembered the name of the club but he couldn't. He said he'd think about it and get back to me. But he did remember the name of the "chairman" - John Candy. Meanwhile, Bradwell has threatened to visit me in Taree and buy me lunch. How nice!

Ian Parry-Okeden, the bare-chested bloke in the lower pic, owned the classic old Chevy. He also loved cowboy hats and boots. I think he was having some kinda mid-life crisis so he bought the Chevy. One day, a group of us piled aboard and drove out to Palm Beach, with Beach Boys' songs blaring from the radio. It was a hoot! By contrast, Parry-Okeden on air was a quietly-spoken, sophisticated and intelligent talk-back announcer. To his right is David Allender, who became news director at Channel 9, then Tony Delroy who runs a popular talk-back/interview program on ABC called Night Line, then Tony's friend, and far right my mate Philip Smith, sales exec who kept getting me into more trouble than Speed Gordon.

I think these pics were taken at a dinner for Des Hoysted's retirement. Des was a race caller, and 2UE for quite a number of years had devoted Wednesday and Saturday afternoons to broadcasting the races. That's Des second from the right in the top photo, with me on the far left. In the bottom photo, is Graham McNeice far left with me in the middle looking ridiculous. Graham is also a race caller but better known these days as a sports presenter on SKY TV and producer of documentaries by his own production company. If I'm right about this particular occasion, all of Sydney's well known race callers turned up that night to farewell Des, and they all had very funny stories to tell.

John Tapp told a story about his early days as a race caller. There was a wall of horses heading down the final straight towards the winning post when all of a sudden, John noticed one horse ahead of the pack. He was flabbergasted! How could he have missed that horse ahead of the field? He figured it was because he was using binoculars and somehow failed to see the leading horse so far out in front. So he finishing calling the race and declared the mystery horse the winner. Then he realized that the leading horse had actually gotten so far behind the field during the race that the other horses had lapped it. Hehe. So he had to apologize profusely for his mistake, and declare the winning horse as having run last.

Graham McNeice also told a wonderful story. He was calling the Bong Bong picnic races one year, which are always held on Melbourne Cup day. He had been given a tape recorder by a 2UE technician, fitted with a phone plug so that the recording of the call could be played over the phone line back to 2UE after the event. The call couldn't be broadcast live because there were too many other more important races being run in Melbourne, Sydney and other capital cities. Besides, there was no broadcast line direct to 2UE studios. So Graham turned on the tape recorder and called the race. Then he discovered that the recorder's batteries were flat and it hadn't worked. The race had gone unrecorded. Graham jumped into his car, drove to the nearest roadside petrol station a few miles up the road, threw some coins into the red public phone, and dialled 2UE. "Are you ready to take the race?" he asked. Then Graham did a phantom call of the race as he remembered it. Hehe. People filling their tanks with petrol or shopping at the station couldn't believe their ears. There was a bloke calling a race into a public phone, and there wasn't a single horse in sight! BUT, here's the best bit. During the actual call, Graham had called the wrong horse as the winner. He corrected that little faux pas during the phantom call over the phone. So all was well, and nobody was any the wiser. What a wonderful story.

Sydney's most famous talk-back announcer, John Laws, who had recently retired from 2UW, decided to return to radio and 2UE after 6 months off air. He was twiddling his thumbs on his farm and getting bored shitless. I remember one time at 2UW when Laws failed to turn up for his shift, John Burgess (who was the DJ at Long Johns before me) took the chair and said, "John can't make it to the studio today... he was walking to work this morning and got run over by a ferry." Anyway, I hadn't worked with Laws since '66/7 at Long Johns and there he was coming to 2UE in '79.

He was very nervous on his first day back on air after 6 months but soon got back into the swing of things. Part of my job was to write his live commercials, which on occasion he would tear to pieces on air and bitch about the content. So I then wrote his live commercials in two parts, top and bottom, with a dotted line across the center of the page with the words "Tear Here" typed at the side. Hehe. One day, I was so mad at him I came storming down the hall as he was leaving his studio for the day and he looked at me and said, "Yes, I know. I'm a cunt." Another time, just after he'd finished his shift, I burst into the studio, gave him a colorful verbal battering, and then exited before he could respond. It was a game, though. At a party one time, he introduced me to his wife (the Princess) as "the best copywriter in Australia".

Laws wasn't an easy person to befriend so I didn't really get to know him all that well. But I did befriend his personal secretary, Pam Stanley. There we are at my little house in Glebe. Pam was lovely, but very protective of her boss. There was no way you could get to Laws without going through Pam first. The irony was, she worked as a company secretary at 2UW when Laws first went there. Laws needed a personal secretary so he asked the boss to allocate one. The boss volunteered Pam. Pam hated Laws back then - thought he was a pompous smartass - and refused. Hehe. I dunno what changed her mind but she relented and the two were inseparable until she retired over 20 years later in the mid 90s.

When I say I didn't get to know Laws very well, I certainly understood enough about him to get 60 seconds out of a 30 second live script. I would write certain lines in the ad that I knew Laws couldn't resist. Sure enough, he would go off on a tangent and the advertiser would get double his money's worth. I never told Laws that, but I did tell the advertisers. They thought I was awesome. If Laws had known what I was doing he would have been furious. He retired from 2UE about 3 years ago but is due to come out of retirement and return to the airwaves at 2SM in February 2011. He's 75 now.


Scrapbook Part 10b
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