Having worked my way from Community Switch volunteer, to receptionist, to Community Switch coordinator, to “Black Thunder pilot”, in 2003 I made another huge advance at the radio station.
I went on the air.
B105’s program director Rex, showing an extraordinarily rare lapse in good judgment, put my coworker Sarah Robinson and I at the helm of a late-night show that we called “The Hot Tin Roof”. I have zero—ZERO—idea why we called it that: we just thought it was catchy. (We were idiots who had no idea what we were doing.)
Our first time-slot was midnight on a Friday night until 2am Saturday morning. Every week we’d utilise our combined total experience in radio (none) to create a two hour show. I wrote and recited long-winded diatribes (yes, I have technically been doing the very style of thing you’re reading right now for over a decade), Sarah told embarrassing dating stories, we would play recordings of us stopping people in the street to ask nonsense questions, and we would mock each other for being dickheads. To recap: we were idiots who had no idea what we were doing. Somehow, it worked.
Eventually, unbelievably, we became a solid enough show to start getting some interviews. We started slowly: our first ever interview was a reserve-grade rugby union player who had yet to take the field. Our second ever interview was Eddie Izzard: apparently the bell-curve of interview quality is quite steep.
After a few months we got an upgrade to the 10pm-midnight slot on a Tuesday. The jump from an unpaid, post-midnight show on the weekend to a casually paid, pre-midnight show on a weeknight felt huge for us. So imagine the universe-tilting shock when, a few months after that, we were upgraded again: to holiday replacements for the breakfast show. Before we even knew what was happening, Sarah and I were filling in for the on-air-for-13-years-and-number-one-rating-the-entire-time Jamie Dunn and the B105 Morning Crew.
It was intense and insane and we thought were both going to die from fatigue on only our second morning, but we did it. I even remember the first freebies we scored as big-shot breakfast announcers: an alarm clock and a pubic hair trimmer. Both were invaluable to me.
There we were, ass-deep in the world of commercial radio. And at least two people thought we were not horrible. Without even really paying attention, I’d found a career. A career as a professional idiot who had no idea what he was doing.
Perhaps mum saw this sudden upswing in employment quality as an opportunity to finally offload a dependent who was by this point in low orbit over his mid-twenties, or perhaps it was coincidence. Either way, during this period of explosive job accomplishments, mum sat me down for some news.
“We’re going to be moving. We’re moving to be closer to Mike’s work. Somewhere around Slacks Creek.”
If you’ve been following this blog up to this point, from my owning of horses to refusal to eat peanut butter sandwiches to living in a house with faux-crystal doorknobs, you can probably tell how I am going to react to the notion of moving to a place that sounds like a euphemism for shitting your pants.
“Oh. Mum. Uh. Look, don’t take this the wrong way, but I don’t think I want to move to…Slacks Creek. [shudder] So maybe I’ll move out instead, and you don’t need to look for a four bedroom place?”
“Oh. Christopher. Don’t take this the wrong way, but we already assumed you wouldn’t come with us. We’ve only been looking at smaller places anyway.”
“Well, good. Then. So we’re all on the same page? Great. That’s…great.”
Pre-empted by my own elitism.
And so I moved out of home, for the third and final time. It’s been twelve years so far, so I’m almost certain this one’s permanent.
But, to be honest: even on this, my third attempt at living out of home, I cheated a bit. For the first two months I lived in the home of one of my former teachers from The Actors Conservatory: Maria. Maria was easily one of the best teachers I’d ever had: nurturing and inspiring, but she took precisely zero shit, like if Professor McGonagall taught acting. Maria lived with her mother and two small dogs in an enormous house in Aspley, and they were doing a long holiday around Europe, so I moved in to look after the place: rattling around their monstrous house by myself like a five-cent piece in a tumble-dryer.
My only company was the housekeeper, who came by three times a week and managed to find (and wash, dry and iron) my dirty clothes no matter how sneakily I hid them out of guilt: in an empty drawer, under the bed, in the bed, in my suitcase, and in the dryer (to look as if I’d already done them). She knew. She always knew.
The icing on the cake of this two-month housesitting stint was the food. The week before embarking on their European trip, Maria had “catered” for the christening of a family member’s daughter: making six or seven giant lasagnes, and dozens upon dozens upon dozens of savoury pinwheels. But then the christening was moved interstate, and suddenly Maria’s giant freezer was packed to the gills with frozen lasagne and pinwheels for no reason. The only condition of my housesitting was that all the food (which, after a week of cooking, she was sick of even looking at) be gone by her return. Maria asked if I could promise this. I asked Maria if she had ever met me.
To recap: I had home-cooked Italian meals to eat for eight weeks while I lived rent-free in a mansion with a housekeeper.
This is probably why I stayed in the house for another four weeks after they returned from their European holiday, and eventually had to be asked to leave. I can’t blame them for evicting me any more than they can blame me for staying.