Two Young Men – Part 3
Two young men.
The year is 1961-2.
A tram stop in St Kilda Road, South Melbourne. Up slope to the east is
The Shrine of Remembrance. Across the road to the west is Dorcas Street
and on the corner where Dorcas Street crosses Wells Street is
H.S.V.Channel Seven, Melbourne: Victoria. Australia.
Two young men alight from the tram. It is a frosty, beautiful, crisp
morning. An 'Early Morning Singing Song' kind of morning.
Both the men, one is in fact a youth of eighteen, are in high spirits
and looking forward to a new day working at the television station.
Their enthusiasm is fired by their ages (the older is around twenty) and
their dreams. It is good to be young, alive and ambitious and working at
a t.v. station ranked second only to the Graham Kennedy dominated
The younger fellow is me. I'm a year out of Technical School, still call
everyone Sir, Mister, Miss, Missus and am so wet behind the ears I am an
easy mark for anyone who wants some fun at my expense. I have no street
smarts, have never imbibed in alcohol, am still a virgin and as innocent
as a primary kid in school.
But this isn't about me. It's about the young Scotsman walking down the
hill beside me. His name is Huey Reid. He has a fairly pronounced
brogue, a wide grin and a pleasant nature. He's lightly built and
carries himself in a confident manner.
I haven't talked much with him before and so I ask him what he wants to
do, what he wants to achieve.
He tells me that he likes working in Props and Staging, but that he also
wants to write comedy scripts for the Channel.
And indeed, in the coming year he does write and some of his sketches
are excepted with the likes of Sydney Helen, Morrie Fields, Honest John
Gilbert, Val Jellay and Hal Lashwood performing them on Sunny Side Up.
I recall an incident where Huey (who I think by then was doing props) had
to get inside a fake cardboard piano and move around so that the piano player,
after chasing it from place to place, finally pulls out a double-barrel
shot-gun and shoots it. The blanks blew a hole through the cardboard and
the packed wadding hit Huey in the leg, badly bruising him. Back then,
everyone just shrugged it off, including Hugh. He was just so happy that
the skit had worked.
Two decades later I'm standing in Studio A at Channel Ten,
Nunawading. Huey is with me. He's in a wheelchair, stricken with a
disease that is going to kill him. He can barely speak. But he indicates
his new wife beside him. She is also his nurse. (Recent civil ceremony.)
I know what that means. So does she.
So does he.
She nods and smiles. Pats his shoulder gently. Makes an effort at
I do the same.
Hugh looks up at me,twists his face into an expression he thinks is a
smile, but is in fact a mask of painful affliction. There are tears in
his eyes. There are tears in mine.
I feel the hard bones of his thin fingers gripping my hand.
I say some things: Groping, stumbling, useless, poor words.