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
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
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
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.
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