Location: New South Wales, Australia
Posted December 2010
In April 1991, I sold my little house in Glebe for $165,000. It's worth
about $700K now. Anyway, I was $40K in the black but as I discovered that
year, $40K ain't big bikkies if you don't have a job. I moved to a flat
at Greenwich because 2UE was then located on the Pacific Hwy, just up the
road. I figured I might get a bit of freelance work there.
Also just up the road was Dick Smith Electronics. It was Dick's original
store, cnr Pacific Hwy & Greenwich Rd, and it was there that I upgraded
my Amstrad computer to an IBM compatible 286 for just under $3000. The
386 had just been released but the salesman said I didn't need it, that
the 286 would be more than adquate for my needs. Yeah, right. It had a
10MB hard disk drive. Sheesh.
The internet arrived, the beginning of a most serious addiction that
continues to this day. The only ISP available in Oz at the time was Compuserve
South Pacific. My first monthly bill was $2500. I was horrified and questioned
it, so they sent me a printout of my online time which was the size of
a telephone book. It must have been pay by the nano second. My next month's
bill was $1500. Can you believe that? Compuserve were out and out crooks...
the legal kind that unjustly avoids prison.
Other ISPs such as Ozemail sprang up and joined the feeding frenzy.
It would be 1997 before I discovered Comcen, an ISP that offered connection
for $40 a month and which I've used ever since. Meanwhile, my $40K dwindled
to zero by 1992. I had to find a job.
Norwich advertised for financial consultants. I got the job despite
being a financial basket case. My colleagues included a bloke whose business
went bankrupt, another bloke who was penniless and lived in a backpacker's
hostel in Kings Cross, a bloke who was illiterate, and a few more desperate
cases. And we were supposed to advise people how to invest their money.
We were flown to Melbourne for a week's course in financial wizardry which
would then qualify us to sell Norwich Savings Plans. It was the worst mistake
- well, one of the worst - I'd made in my life, and I lost credibility
with a lot of my friends as a consequence.
Meanwhile, Ian Atkinson had been regularly pestering me by phone and
fax to move to Canberra. He had moved back there after the collapse of
The Shark Versus The Great White... back to his wife and kids whom he'd
abandoned some years previously. One time he faxed a long suicide note
saying that if I didn't support him in his quest for fame and fortune he
would "end it all". I wish he had.
There's Atkinson in my house back in '88/9 using the phone and drinking
my beer. In the early days of The Shark Versus The Great White, he invited
his parents and his wife up to Sydney from Canberra to meet me. I didn't
think of it at the time but he must have needed to convince them that he
really did have a business partner in Sydney and that he really was working
on a viable project. I figure he was borrowing money from them too, and
needed to allay their fears. We all went to a local bistro at a pub in
Glebe and I remember his wife saying that she had studied psychology at
university. My immediate response was, "And you married him anyway?"
Back to Greenwich. I was broke and desperate, so when Atkinson eventually
phoned one day to tell me he'd arranged a deal with the Australian National
University video production unit to provide me with a house on campus,
I figured I had nothing to lose. He borrowed a pantec truck and arrived
shortly thereafter to move all my stuff to Canberra. I followed a day or
two later in my Kombi with the rest of my belongings.
When I arrived in Canberra, I found all my furniture stored in Atkinson's
garage. There was no house on campus. There was no deal with the university's
video production unit. It was all a lie to get me there. But I was stuck
with nowhere else to go. The Kombi became my bedroom for the next couple
of years. I remember the day before I turned 50. I was in bed in the Kombi
staring at its ceiling and thought to myself, "This is all I have to show
for 50 years on the planet." It was minus 8C outside.
Atkinson is by far and away the most despicable person I have ever met.
He's a lying, cheating, conniving, creep who has no conscience... the mother
of all low-life. If he ever reads this and wants to sue me, let him. He
should have sued me when I had a house. Now I have nothing but a pension.
This is a period of my life I'm not happy to recollect or document.
It's very painful. Suffice to say that Atkinson and I eventually got a
concept for a lifestyle TV series off the ground, Blue Water Dreaming.
With assistance from a Canberra video production house, we put a pilot
episode together and sold it to Network TEN in Sydney. Suddenly, word got
around, and my former colleagues from my old Sydney radio days flocked
to Canberra to congratulate me in person. Yeah, right.
Network TEN didn't pay us for the series. Oh, no. They were too smart
for that. They put it to air and left it to us to obtain sponsorship. After
a couple of episodes had gone to air, the video production house in Canberra
contacted Network TEN and told them that Atkinson and I were a couple of
dickhead wannabes and that the concept for the show was all theirs. Charming.
They told TEN that they would continue to produce the show without us.
Atkinson went to Sydney and used his "silver tongue" to convince TEN that
he and I held the copyright and that the production house were a bunch
of crooks, which they were. TEN believed Atkinson.
We packed up and moved to Sydney. Atkinson rented a mansion overlooking
Roseville Marina with Roseville Bridge in the background. That's the view
we had from the backyard. Atkinson had always believed that "image is everything".
Before moving into the Roseville company headquarters, though, I spent
my first night back in Sydney sleeping in the Kombi parked in a Sydney
street. The next day, I relocated to a backpacker's hostel in Dulwich Hill.
It wasn't so bad really because I became good friends with the manager
and met a lot of interesting people there, including a couple of young
Japanese surfers holidaying in Oz. One night I tried to teach them to say
"owyagoinmate, noworries". Hehe. It was hilarious.
Anyway, that was the beginning of Atkinson's white-anting. Behind my
back, he convinced all the other members of the production team that I
was a waste of space. I was mystified, and couldn't understand why everyone
treated me with contempt. One time Atkinson gave me a job to do... a whole
bunch of wild footage on VHS that I was to paper-edit into a finished story.
He figured I wasn't up to it and that it would bring me undone. Next day
I took the paper-edit to the online editor and we sat side by side in the
studio. I read out the numbers and he spooled through the tapes, fully
expecting me to fuck up at any moment. But I didn't, and the completed
story was edited and finished in about half an hour, which was probably
a record. But that wasn't enough for Atkinson to change his mind about
It began to dawn on me that Atkinson was the type of person who used
others to elevate himself and then, when they were no longer useful, crush
them. I can't believe how naive I was at the time. Even when his vicious
white-anting would have been glaringly obvious to most people, I failed
to see it.
39 episodes of Blue Water Dreaming went to air on TEN but, towards the
end, our company had also gone into voluntary receivership. The series
was sold to a number of overseas television networks which paid all the
bills with a bit left over, but Atkinson made sure I never got a penny.
Last I heard, he went back to Canberra and re-joined the Public Service,
shuffling papers and shining his pants.
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