Page 24 - Week 01 - Tuesday, 13 December 2016
The banks all knocked him back. As he was close to giving up, he stumbled across a private lender who agreed to lend him the money, and my father became a small business owner. I was born in those early years when he and my mother were running the business. We lived in a very modest bonded asbestos house on the poor side of town. This was government housing. It was all that my parents could afford.
My father worked. He worked from dawn until dusk. I grew up in the store of his supermarket and I watched my father and the way that he operated. I listened in on the conversations that he had with customers, with wholesalers, and in those young, formative years my father’s work ethic entered my little body and it has never left.
My father was the best small-town supermarket operator that ever was. He metaphorically owned that little town. He was a gun. He built that business up so fast, and eventually we moved out of the little house on Grey Street to a much bigger house. Eventually my father sold up to a bigger supermarket and became their manager, before starting again in business for a second shot at it seven years later, and he smashed it a second time round. He worked his guts out for his family, and he made it work. My father retired at 50 because he could. He and my mother had earned enough money to fund their retirement for the rest of their lives and they still live very happily in York.
I am a Liberal because my father showed me that with hard work anyone can get ahead, irrespective of where they have come from. This is a great country that we live in, in that it allows individuals to prosper in the way that my father did. I think that our elected representatives at all levels should do whatever they can to allow initiative and hard work to be rewarded.
I had a ball growing up in York. There is something special about living in a place where you know everybody and everybody knows you. I played hockey very badly; I did not often wear shoes; and I rode my yellow Malvern Star bike—yes, it did have a sissy bar—all over town. I excelled early on at school, but not so much in later years, because other things grabbed my attention. I became a published journalist as a 13 year old when I started writing a fortnightly column in my local newspaper, the Beverley York Express. It was around that time that I developed a love for harness and thoroughbred racing. I fancied myself as a race caller and I set about learning that craft.
I am supremely colourblind. I am as colourblind as a human can get; so I was told by many that it was physically impossible for me to call the races. The calling of thoroughbred races in particular is done almost exclusively by colour; so I was told it just would not be possible for me to pursue this. I ignored the naysayers and set about proving them wrong, and prove them wrong I did.
At 14 I became the on-course broadcaster for the northern harness racing trials, and at age 16 I secured the job as the official on-course broadcaster for the Trayning Harness Racing Club and the Merredin Harness Racing Club, both in regional Western Australia. At those venues, I created the bizarre scenario whereby the official on-course race caller was not legally allowed to bet on the races.