We pick the story up when I finished doing tours for Sundowners.
I worked at Club Habitat in Austria for 2 to 3 months at the beginning of 1980. My role was as a barman but the real reason I went there was to go skiing in the Alps, which was great.
I returned back to London to collect my things and headed off to the USA where I worked for ‘Trek America.’ 6 months and 6 tours later my visa was up and I then flew back to Australia. I stayed in America doing 6 trips until mid September.
The flight back was via Hawaii and Hong Kong. I came back to Australia through Sydney where I caught up with Gary Green (Buddha) and a couple of others that used to frequent the pub down by the rocks, The Diplomate, Darcy Waller and a few others. I stayed with Gary Green in Sydney for a week or two and then drove back to Adelaide. I bought an old Holden to drive back to Adelaide in; the oil bill was about the same as the petrol. Eventually it got me home which was under consideration all the way back.
Back in Adelaide by October 1980 I needed to find a job. Jobs at the time were hard to get so I did the occasional driving job for my father who had a small bus business. One day, on my parent’s wedding anniversary, I drove up into the Adelaide hills to take a group there. The trip was sprung on me at a minutes notice so I was rushed to pick them up and get them there. Once the people were dropped off I casually drove out of the property and onto the main road. It was not too far into the return trip when negotiating a corner a woman came around that corner on the same side of the road I was on.
Out of our vehicles, I asked what she was doing on my side of the road; she said what do you mean? Aarrr! Remember how I said I had been driving in the USA for 6 months? Mmmm! It was me that was on the wrong side of the road. Luckily she and the 2 children in the car were not badly hurt. My pride got a bit of a hiding tho.
1981 and it was March, Peter Fraser (Fraz) and I had just scored a job doing some manual labour that was to pay well. Peter and I played a game of squash on the Friday before we were due to start the job. Halfway through the game I broke my cruiciate ligament. One operation and 6 weeks later I hobbled about the job. Originally the work was only for 3 months so I got in about 6 weeks worth out of that.
I stayed in Adelaide until July 1981, while here I caught up with Tadpole. Then next to Sundowners in Melbourne to be their representative. It was Graeme Long from Adelaide who had originally booked 4 of us on an Alexander trip that set this up for me.
In Melbourne I used to see Peter Fraser (Fraz) most weekends, he had joined the air force by then and living at the base there. On several Friday nights Fraz and I would have a drink with Michael George (Powell) as his wife Cheryl worked at the pub.
After a year in Melbourne I moved to Brisbane to make my fame & fortune in real estate. This was in and around Sunnybank Hills for those that know the area. 12 months on and no fame or fortune.
An Adelaide travel company was looking for a representative to be based out of Brisbane and I scored that position. Interestingly enough the Graeme Long was now the General Manager of this company. The company was Kirra Tours and they did tours and self-drive holidays around New Zealand.
While in Brisbane I travelled from Tweed Heads up to Cairns. Fortunately I was able to catch up with Dave Yearly, Colin Davidson in Brisbane and further up the coast John McCabe who had become somewhat famous by becoming father to quintuplets. An article had been featured in a woman’s magazine which drew some financial and other support.
Living in Brisbane I returned to Adelaide at the end of 1985 for a holiday. While I was in Adelaide I applied for and won the position of Sales Manager at the newly opened Adelaide Casino. This meant going back to Brisbane to pack up everything and come back here. The Sales Manager was a great job with perks and good income.
My time at the casino was very good and after 5 years, when my position was just about exhausted, I was transferred to the department that looked after the high rollers. My job there was to make sure the high rollers had everything they needed in the way of food, accommodation and transport. To do this meant rostering others to be about the players and also entailed taking care of the paper work. I had 4 others on the floor to help the players and 4 others to assist with the paper work, all under my supervision. In September 1990 the axe feel on 3 of us, including my immediate supervisor and the 3 of us were out on the street.
While at the casino I had met a lady by the name of Dianne who had 3 children aged 5,7 & 9. Dianne left her husband and I moved in with her family just before the axe fell at the casino. Never had any children of my own, that I am aware of. Dianne and I lived together bringing up her 3 children for 19 years during this time we got married, I was at the tender age of 46. This union lasted for around 8&1/2 years when she woke up to herself and gave me the flick. I have always maintained that it was because of her mental illness that we separated…………. Just the thought of me made her sick. Now I am a free??????? Man. What is annoying is that when I tell any woman about having been a courier and a driver on European and Overland tours they could not give a toss. Wow!….. What’s gone wrong?
After the casino for 11 months I continued the search for another job but they were very difficult to come by. Eventually I got a job selling fax machines, which was not successful at all, as it was about then that new technology was coming in and stand alone fax machines were not in demand. Everyone was changing over to a 3 in 1; fax, copier and scanner.
From here I took on a variety of selling jobs none of which proved to be over successful. Amongst some of the work, I started my own handyman business; this was hard work and very little reward. My prices were too low and I always under estimated the time the work would take.
Out of frustration as much as anything I took on the position of bus driver for the state transport system. This lasted about 2&1/2 years where the money was average and the hours all over the place. Eventually the government sold the business off to private operators but they offered redeployment, a condition of working for the government. I had to attend an office in the city each day and supposedly do what I could to find another position. This was money for jam but it could not last forever.
The government paid towards me learning to be a counsellor; this was done mainly by correspondence. I never did finish this course but to improve my counselling skills I also did a course with ‘Life Line.’ After the course with ‘Life Line’ I did some volunteer work for them on the phones. I stayed with “Life Line’ for about 18 months, an interesting time there.
With government constantly on our backs to take up some kind of work I went to work for them on the trams. Adelaide has one tram line that runs between the Glenelg beach and the city. I stayed there for about 3 years but gave up my counselling course to try and win a pay rise for the operators. Along with a couple of others we were successful in getting a significant increase. The counselling course had be changed over the few years it had taken me to try and complete it. Along with this I could not see any real openings to get started in that area, short of opening up my own practice. In opening any business we know it takes a couple of years to get established, if ever it does. With this in mind I did not have the funds to wait that long.
I left the trams and then went back to sales, this time selling ‘Colour Bond’ pergolas. Moderate success was achieved but the owner of the business was just not that good at running a business and eventually he shut the business down. Before the business was closed I could see the writing on the wall so I jumped ship.
Reverting back to my trade as a Fitter & Turner I worked for a couple of months as a fitter. Mind you this is about 30 years after I had done any of this type of work and I was lucky to hold that job down. It was a temporary job and with my sister and her husband having just moved back to Adelaide, presented another opportunity. My sister’s husband is a builder so we teamed up in a building business. I would do most of the quoting but also helped out with the building itself.
Boy! We put some hours into the business and effort but at the end of each year we were in the minus department. It is the over-heads that can kill a business.
It was while struggling along to change and improve the business the wife pulled up stumps and we went our separate ways.
After my squash game back in 1981 I had a couple of operations and this lead to me getting arthritis in both my knees. On the 17th of December 2009 I had one of my knees replaced. This did not go so well and I had anther 3 procedures within 3 months. As my knee continued to give me grief I had to get out of the business with my sister’s husband, as I could not work. He re-opened the business under another name and plods along trying to make a dollar out of it.
With my knee not doing the right thing and through another health provider it came about that the knee required replacing again. That happened last October and currently (April 2011) I am still trying to find my way back to work, it has been 16 months now since I was last able to work.
Currently I live with my mother, my father died 10 days after I got married which was back in 1998. With the family home sold and after one of those money grabbing exercises with Dianne, the funds are not too readily available to purchase another place. Between Dianne and me we had gathered a very small gold mine. After the nasty family court hearing she got the gold and I got the shaft. No bank is about to lend me money while I am not working so I will stay here until such time as I get a job. Good old mum is 84 but is still quite up with most things and is fairly active.
Should I get past this wretched knee replacement I might try and get a job in the mines as maintenance fitter, the last time I did this over in Western Australia was in 1974. I am trusting that the extended time frame can be over come by the shortage of skilled labour available. My age and my bad knees could be factors that could go against me but I think it will be worth a go.
I have been back in Adelaide since 1986 but not really seen or heard from too may. I once happened into a steel merchant to come face to face with Robin McLeod. Being brothers I see “The Dog Catcher,” Paul Preiss, frequently who came face to face with “Ken Boy” and we understand he is still living in Port Lincoln, South Australia. Fraser & I still stay in touch and Warren Jackson “Rabbit” spent several months reacquainting us but he did not maintain the contact. That was about 5 years ago.
Although on first reading this it may seem that life has been all doom and gloom but this is not true. There have been many great events and times over the years but not any highlights to point out.
Stay tuned for the next chapter in the exciting times of Vicar the Wonder? Courier? and Driver?