A serpentine cycle
My father strapped the 1962 Golden Slipper winner, Birthday Card, which is quite a story in itself – the only winner in the history of Sydney’s rich and prestigious horse race to come from a battling stable and be ridden by a battling jockey (Reg Ferris and Roy Greenwood).
I was therefore destined to begin my working life as a racing writer, something I eventually became jaded with, as a bus driver grows weary of stops and starts and a General Practitioner becomes bored dealing with colds and flu.
A brief spell as a movie critic led me to six years in film publicity, meeting and organising media interviews for touring stars such as Tom Cruise, Harrison Ford, Anthony Perkins, Mel Gibson, Jimmy Stewart, Helen Mirren and others all promoting their latest movies. Almost without exception (the convivial gentleman Alan Alda being the rare one) publicists are treated like doormats and so I was never star-struck, only struck by the fact that Ford, Perkins and Mirren behaved like monsters.
And so disillusioned I crossed to the other side to review films for a number of publications – TV movies for Melbourne’s Herald-Sun for many years and finally TV Week, which was probably the happiest time of my reviewing career. In between time I freelanced with weekly radio segments and became a racing journalist once again. I was the Fantales wrapper writer for a couple of generations, upgraded their rather archaic attitudes to wrapper bios and introduced new categories such as Trivia.
My father was a chronic asthmatic who drank too much and died in his mid 50s. My mother went earlier – she smoked and drank to excess and died of throat cancer. Mum and Dad fought for 25 years of married life and their three kids were inevitably scarred. Only one of us married. The “go to” defence for cagey lawyers is to argue in court that their clients’ crimes were the result of a tumultuous upbringing – a notion that forms the framework for a forthcoming story. But really there is no justification for confusing right and wrong. We siblings learned that the lifestyle choices of our parents were flawed because the dysfunction was painfully evident and ever present.
Like the bus driver and the General Practitioner I became jaded with the pressures of big city life - or rather, a city that has gotten too big – and retired to Stawell on a 60-acre lifestyle property about 2.5 hours west of Melbourne. I am surrounded by wildlife and delight in spoiling my ageing whippets. They were the inspiration for “Old Lady’s Dream” and the canines in other stories. I’ve never enjoyed writing more.
* I still run cross country with the Stawell Amateur Athletic Club (President)
Stawell and Ararat Cross Country Club (Secretary) and
Victorian Cross Country League (Melbourne, past Secretary)