Yes, I know the first thing you'll be asking is, "Where has he been?" And clearly with such a long break between these episodes I owe you some sort of explanation. I'll try to keep it brief. Dear Readers... I've just emerged from a medical black hole which dates back to a bad fall I had in the winter of 2008. That was bad luck but what was even worse luck was that I'd suffered two neck fractures which were not diagnosed 'til the winter of 2010. By the time I got to surgery in Westmead my spinal cord was irreparably damaged. The surgeon, a super guy, said he couldn't wind the clock back but he promised me he'd be able to carry out sufficient repairs to ensure I didn't have to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair. Two major operations later (don't ask!) and I'm still walking, with the aid of a walking stick usually, but the spinal surgeon kept his promise. I'm not confined to a wheelchair. Unfortunately some months later another specialist had to inform me that I had cancer. Yes, I know, that is a dreaded word. But I survived radiation therapy and hormonal therapy (and don't ask about that one either) in 2012-2013 and have managed to stay upright, though at times vertically challenged. I don't think we should spend a lot of our time on these medical issues except to say I owe my life to several doctors and to the astonishing support of my extended family. They were magnificient*****************
Now to be honest I really didn't pay a lot of attention to the world around me for several years. I tended to meditate a lot (that's if sitting in a chair staring at the wall actually constitutes "meditating"). But in recent times I have gradually returned to the real world and made contact with several colleagues, some from the distant past. This has been really uplifting and I am now venturing into 2013 in a much more positive frame of mind.
One of the nicest things to happen is my renewed contact with 2DAY FM/MIX 106.5 FM colleague Michelle Aleksandrovics, now with SBS (please revisit my article on "best radio voices"). We have a regular coffee/lots of talk at Gloria Jeans, Strathfield. The last time we met she set me up. Another long term colleague, John Kesbyâ€”ex 2DAY FM/MIX 106.5â€”was waiting for me amid much laughter. It brought back memories for the three of us when we operated one of the hottest newsrooms in the country. Man, we broke some stories and chased some incredible actuality. This is a trade where you know when you're hot and I hope you won't mind me saying we had a team at those two places which was "hot".
I include an attached photo, provided by Mr Kesby (who shall remain nameless) which dates back to our days at 2DAY FM. I've spoken to our Editor requesting that this photo not appear in the public domain without significant "air brushing". His response was, "Dad, we can do anything with computers these days." Anyway the last thing I heard was that Michelle was looking at making contact with several other pals from those halcyon days. I really look forward to that, but warn GJ's at Strathfield that they may need to get bigger tables. In recent times I've also caught up via phone/email with several blasts from the past, including Rob Grantâ€”ex 3AKâ€”and Mike Menner, formerly 3XY. Ah they were the days. I've also had long conversations with one of my dearest mates, Dean Matters of 6PR, 3MP and 2WS fame. Deano is currently enjoying an idyllic life which includes attacking little white balls on a golf course overlooking the blue Pacific. But he lives in fear. Because he knows that Frank one day will get strong enough to get those golf clubs into the boot and drive south where heâ€™ll rendezvous with Mr Matters and take him to the cleaners. Er, that might sort of be a bit of poetic licence as Dean is currently working on getting his handicap down to single-figures while your correspondent was last recorded sitting at plus-27. For those of you who don't follow golf plus-27 is sort or, well... er... not good. Letâ€™s put it this way. If you happen to run into Tiger Woods at the Masters one year and you mention that youâ€™ve got a mate who plays off 27 he'll probably fall to the ground laughing uproariously. Any other golfer who happened to have heard the conversion would fall over, in a similar manner. So youâ€™d have all these famous golfers, live on NBC TV with Johnny Miller telling viewers that there's some guy in Australia playing off 27... Yes... 27 is that bad. It's really bad. We won't talk about this again*****
The other great fun I've been having is a series of emails with John Burls and wife Carol. Both were incredibly kind to me during dark times when JB was PD at XY (sorry, but I've always wanted to say that).
We spend most of our time trying to out-do each other by name-dropping from our early radio days. This has turned out to be a serious mistake by yours truly. Noone is going to defeat JB. He knows where all the bodies are buried. I'm going to keep trying... Somewhere there has to be somebody from the Golden Age of radio that Burlsy doesn't know. I trace this back quite a few years when I happened to mention to Mr JB that I thought Dick Haymes was one of the most underrated singers of the era. I think I added that if you had to sit on a desert island with just one record it should probably be Haymes singing "It might as well be Spring" from State Fair. "Ah yes," was the reply, "nice bloke." Now I thought what's this goose on about... he doesnâ€™t know Dick Haymes... does he? â€œOh yes," Mr Suave responds, "Carol and I took him up to the Blue Mountains for a barbecue on his last tour... I think we burned the sausages a bit, but he loved it." That was it. I thought. Just wait mate. One day K-pow... right in the gibinski. I'm going to make you look like a proper galah. I suffered a similar moment of extreme jealousy back in the XY days when the master Frank Sinatra was touring downunder. That lovable rogue Laurie Bennett happened to get into the lift at a famous Melbourne hotel to find just one other passenger inside. Lobo looked at this bloke and there was this moment of recognition. "You like look Frank Sinatra, mate," said the super sophisticated Mr Bennett. "That's because I AM Frank Sinatra," said the gentleman opposite. "Jeez," said Laurie, "how are ya?" "Good," said the Thin Singer, "but I need a drink... you donâ€™t like whisky do you?" Wrong question Frank... and the wrong person to ask. Lobo actually made his air shift on XY the next day, apparently coming directly from Mr Sinatra's suite. He was, and I love this piece of journalistic code, â€œ tired and emotional.â€ Absolutely. Anyway, youâ€™d think I would have been warned off by now but, no, having made contact with Mr Burls in recent times I made the same old mistake, mentioning that back in the old days I actually queued up for God knows how long to get a ticket to a Jack Davey radio show... was it "Ask me Another"(?)... not sure. He was the greatest name in the history of Australian radio... you have no idea how big Jack was in the Golden Age. Quick came the response from You Know Who. "Yes, yes," he said, waiting to pounce like Viv Richards on a short ball from Dennis Lillee, "Really nice guy." "What," I thought, "what is this turkey on about... he wouldn't know Jack Davey from Ada and Elsie..." WRONG. "Oh yes," said JB, "he took Carol and I out for a ride around Sydney Harbour on his Cruiser. We had a great time." Can you imagine how deflating this is? I'm sitting here thinking "Where are the water police when you really need them?" Look, I'm not just going to sit here and cop it sweet. If you run into Burlsy just let him know... It's not over 'til the fat lady sings, pal... and she ain't singing yet. I'll let you know how things work out when we meet next time...