Smart Alec

Alec Field and I worked together for several years and we got on well together. I accepted Alec as someone who would sell his grandmother for a good story. Alec worked for the Telegraph from Nowra and I worked for the Mercury from Kiama. The difference was that I had the bully boy John Richardson breathing down my neck and monitoring my every move I made. Alec and I used to travel to Ulladulla for Shoalhaven Shire Council meetings,held there on some occasions. We used to travel together in his Mini Minor, enjoy the lunch at Mollymook Golf Club or some other prestigious venue (as guests of the Council).

Alec did not endear himself to people by his ruthless tactics. I remember the Police complaining about his use of the Police Press Pass they issued to us. Alec used to show the pass holding his hand over the “Press” part of the document displaying only the “Police” part. The Police changed the pass when they heard what he was doing. Alec once went to Nowra Police Station with a bag full of Christmas presents (supplied by News Limited) for the Police and Detectives. They responded by throwing the gifts down the front steps onto the footpath.

The HMAS Albatross authorities banned Alec from the station following a news story he wrote (complete with picture of himself inside the breach) of lax security At Australia’s biggest Naval air base’s perimeter fence. It was alleged Alec had cut a hole in the security fence and had then accused the Navy of lax security at the base which house a lot of expensive equipment. They posted a big picture of Alec at the front entrance to the base with the message: “This person is not allowed on this base under any circumstances”.

On another occasion Alec had organised a photo shoot of the newly elected shire president. Bob Wilson was pretty naive. Alec was to take a photo of the young Shire president dressed in the Mayoral robes. his feet up on the Mayoral desk and smoking a big cigar. I objected to the extent that they backed off. The family of Kim Barry the murdered woman of Graeme Gene Potter fame had objected to the authorities about Alec’s behavior. Evidently he had got his foot in the door of the family home at Barrack Heights and had refused to leave.

Alec, his wife and brother, and me, and my wife, were attending the Journalist’s ball in the Union Building at Wollongong University. Guests were Gough Whitlam and wife Margaret. We were all seated at our table when John Richardson started to come over to our table. Knowing the animosity that existed between Richardson and myself, after i was sacked, his new editor who was nearby, dissuaded Richardson from coming over. Cullen was like a little poodle dog desperately dancing around while I imagined grabbing Richardson by the seat of the pants and spinning him across the dance floor to in front of the official party. Luckily nothing more came of the incident.

I remember Richardson visiting Shoalhaven council on a ‘meet the councilor’s tour which I had arranged. On the way home with Richardson driving having had quite a few drinks we called in at Coolangatta Village to meet some more councilors. My wife and I had attended the opening of Col Bishop’s renovated and restored Coolangatta Village earlier that year. I remember Tom Lewis the NSW Premier there to officially open the project. Tom was in a horse drawn sulky arriving a the site. The young pony pulling the sulky became very sexually excited. He had the biggest you know what I’ve ever seen much to the amusement of onlookers. Tom was all smiles. I don’t think he was aware of the horse’s display.

After our visit to Shoalhaven on our way home to Kiama Richardson ran the car up the concrete median strip in Manning Street Kiama. He wanted to call the Police to help get the car back on the road. Luckily David Lonsdale the Mercury Editor who was accompanying us talked him out of this idea and we got the car mobile ourselves before continuing on to my house at Pheasant Point. While they were there several of our children came home from school and met Richardson. Richardson had three children of his own with the same or similar names to ours. At least one was severely handicapped.

From that day on Richardson’s attitude to me changed. He was positively nasty. I suspect he was envious of my family as they were all lovely kids and very intelligent.

On another occasion Shoalhaven Council was given a “Fertilitÿ Idol” by some visiting VIP.

Shire President Harry Sawkins had it “doctored” as it had a big front piece and it was in danger of falling forward all the time and it was an embarrassment sitting in the president’s room.

Later John Hatton a former shire president and then Member for the South Coast wrote a letter to the Mercury asking that the decision to sack me be revoked as I was well respected at Shoalhaven Council wrote a delightful letter when I resigned from The Mercury.


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