Location: New South Wales, Australia
Date: 1979-1983 Part 2

Posted December 2010

While working at 2UE, I was recommended to Channel 9 as a copywriter by 2UE's drive-time announcer Grant Goldman. He was also "the voice" of Channel 9 and did all the voice-over promos during ad breaks. I got the part-time job of writing the promos, which I did each day during my 2UE lunch hour. Hour? Okay, maybe 90 minutes. It was easy work and paid more than my salary at 2UE, so I was making $650 a week plus a few extra bucks for my freelance copywriting for advertising agencies. AND, I also got a couple of mid-dawn shifts each week on 2UE, so I was doing pretty well in the bikkies department. That meant new car time!

That's a web pic. Mine was a gray '73 VJ Valiant with dark blue upholstery. I'd already had 3 Valiants so why not buy a fourth? I figured I was destined to own Valiants whether I wanted them or not. I spotted it at a used car lot on Broadway in Sydney. It had been raining so the gray duco looked pretty good. I parked my old Valiant, checked out the VJ then entered the sales office. The salesman was reading a newspaper. "Excuse me, I'd like to buy that gray Valiant." He jumped up, led me to the car, started opening doors and bonnets and boots and pointing at things when I said, "Don't worry about all that. I'll TAKE it!" He couldn't believe his luck. It was a Sunday morning and he and I were the only two people within cooee.

I really liked that car. Sometimes I'd sit on my veranda admiring it parked in the street while my dog Kelly investigated various smells around the neighborhood.

It was about that time I started to take more than a casual interest in photography. These are a couple of pics I took of buskers at Circular Quay in Sydney, not far from the Opera House. The old blokes would have graduated to harps by now, and the kids would be in their mid to late 40s. I can remember thinking they must have thought I was a scrooge because I didn't give them a tip. Hehe.

This is pre-Darling Harbor. The old disused railway goods yard was being cleared to make way for the new harborside development, which gave me a clear shot from the Pyrmont Bridge side to the bottom of King Street (or was it Market Street?).

Top: The new flyover from Pyrmont to the Sydney Harbor Bridge during construction. Bottom: Another perspective of the flyover that shows the old railway lines of the goods yard.

Top: Pyrmont Bridge closed to traffic and about to undergo renovation to become a pedestrian thoroughfare. Center: Pyrmont Bridge with the city skyline in the background. Bottom: Another view of the flyover heading toward the Harbor Bridge.

This is Darling Harbor in 2003, taken from more or less where I was standing back in the early '80s, with the renovated Pyrmont Bridge on the far left. Note how dramatically the city skyline had changed, especially near the foreshore.

An aerial shot of Darling Harbor (center/right). Quite a change from when I was there in the early '80s. And to think my little house in Glebe was within walking distance to all that. Cest la vie.

A thank you letter from John Laws. He was another bloke who insisted on giving me two r's. Incidentally, C.B.E stands for Commander of the Order of the British Empire. He was awarded the C.B.E in the Queen's Honors List one year for tearing my advertising copy to shreds on air.

Anyway, one day in '83 I got a call from Barry Augustus, the bloke who hired me at 2GB. He was station manager of 4BH now in Brisbane, and he arranged to meet me for breakfast at the Hilton in Sydney. Breakfast? 7am? How uncivilized! But I went anyway and he offered me a job. I was kinda bored with 2UE so I accepted.

I rented my little House in Glebe to one of the sales guys at 2UE and headed for Brissie in my... oh... I forgot to mention my latest Valiant!

It was one of the last of the Aussie-built Valiants before Chrysler sold its South Australian plant to Mitsubishi in 1981. It was a pretty flash car... silver gray with a gray vinyl top, T-bar auto, light blue velour upholstery and all the trimmings, powered by a 4.3 liter ELB straight-six donk.

When I arrived in Brissie, I was booked to stay at a city hotel. I remember driving into town and listening to 4BH on the car radio. "Oh, dear," I thought. "This sounds awful." I was also surprised by Brisbane. When I looked out the hotel window I could see mountains and trees. All you can see in Sydney is buildings, so I thought, "Bloody hell, this is a hick town!" Next morning I arrived at the station, housed in an old city building, and Augustus showed me the pokey office I would share with another copywriter. He had to be kidding, so I told him I was going straight back to Sydney. He freaked and organized a separate office. That was a problem because it had just been allocated to the announcers as a staff room. After I'd settled in, one of the announcers walked in and said, "What are you doing in here?" I said, "This is my office." He was furious hehe and complained bitterly to Augustus. But I kept my office.

Pics of the house I rented at Taringa in Brisbane. A lovely old Queenslander built on a sloping block with rooms underneath at the back, and a huge backyard frequented by frill-neck lizards my dog Kelly loved to chase. She never caught one though. She wouldn't have known what to do with it if she had, so it was just a game. Frill-necks are funny to watch when they run on their hind legs. The house was gorgeous, with timber ceilings and ceiling fans... almost a mini version of Raffles.

Looking back, I think my problem with boredom or frustration was due to my never taking vacations. Instead, I'd go from one job to another hoping that a change was as good as a holiday. Within 3 months, I was disappointed with Brisbane as well as 4BH, so I wrote to my former boss at 2UE and asked for my job back. 4BH offered me $600 a week to stay, which was a considerable sum back then but I declined. In fact, I told Augustus that I was going back to 2UE for less money. He was cool, and understood that I hadn't used my move to 4BH for profit.

My house in Glebe was still rented to the sales guy from 2UE so I moved into the old mansion above (as seen from the North Sydney Rugby Club parking area). The owner lived most of the time in a country town and visited 2 Winter Ave only occasionally. She wanted a sort of caretaker. My flat was the old servants quarters on the left - one bedroom downstairs, with kitchen, dining, bathroom and living upstairs. I had a key to the main house and would check it now and then to make sure everything was okay. The house is perched on a sandstone cliff which overlooks the valley, once a 19th century sandstone quarry owned by the original proprietor of the house. The pic of the valley shot through the living room window shows the Sydney Harbor Bridge. Just to the left of the window was a pair of French doors that opened onto the veranda with a view that stretched 180 degrees right across the city and harbor. A pair of possums were regular visitors on the veranda railing. I fed them bread and jam. Kelly wanted to chase them but I told her they'd rip her eyes out if she tried.

One time the possums decided to establish their home in the roof cavity and made a helluva racket at night. So every time I heard them scratching around I banged the ceiling with a broom handle. They eventually got tired of the noise and moved out.

But, as I soon discovered, returning to 2UE was a big mistake... kinda like jumping outta the frying pan into the fire. So one of the sales guys told me that Sydney's new FM station was looking for a copywriter.


Scrapbook Part 11
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