I was thinking about this the other day because my son is 23 and I recalled what I was doing when I was 23.
At that time, I had just arrived in Rockhampton, broke, unemployed and with a sliver of experience on a little country newspaper in Monto … yes, Monto.
Talk about humble beginnings.
I got to Rocky and was staying with friends until I got on my feet. I fronted the local TV station to see if they had any work and they said they would try me out as a reporter.
But the news editor also thought, for some bizarre reason, that I might make a good newsreader. Although there weren’t that many newsreaders around with long hair and John Lennon glasses.
Newsreaders are, on the whole, square. Except for Mike Higgins, for those who remember him.
Anyhow, I went into this little studio and sat there reading some news reports to a camera that was closer than I expected it to be. I felt ridiculous and that’s probably because I was.
It was no surprise to me at all that I didn’t make the cut and the people of Rockhampton and thereabouts were spared. But the TV station did hire me to do some casual reporting. I had no idea what I was doing of course and they sent me down to Gladstone to do a story on mining.
Then I had to go to Clermont for the opening of some coal mine. I thought we would drive out there but now, apparently, we were to fly into Emerald.
In a small plane. A very small plane. As someone who is not a very good flyer – I was far worse when I was younger – the prospect was terrifying but what could I do?
I went out to the airport with the cameraman and we piled into this flimsy light plane and off we went.
We seemed to skid across the clouds and bump through others. I was white as a sheet by the time we got there. The whole episode is a blur from then on because I was terrified that I had to do it all again to get home.
My reportage was dreadful and after that day the station never called me again. Thankfully I got a job on the local newspaper, The Morning Bulletin, shortly afterwards.
So, my television career came to an ignominious end, which was the best result for all concerned.