ANYONE who comes from a large family learns from a young age that presents don’t just fall from the sky, even at Christmas.
As the eldest of six I knew anything that arrived under the Christmas tree with my name on it had survived the scrutiny of a tight family budget.
Each Christmas we’d be asked what we wanted and even though most times we didn’t get it we couldn’t complain.
In everyone’s childhood there’s a special present that you received that lingers forever in your memory. Mine was a pump-up tyre scooter.
I never got it from my parents, but instead due to a strange twist of fate.
I had started my obsession for the scooter when I first noticed it in the toy catalogue that came around each year just prior to Xmas.
White-walled tyres, streamers hanging from the rubber handles and chrome carry-rack that sat over the back wheel, it was all an eight-year old could ever wish for.
I pointed it out each year to Mum and Dad, but the shiny Cyclops scooter never arrived under the tree.
It was just after my 11th birthday when my mother told me she had sent my name off to go on a Channel Nine show called Street’s Tele Auction and I’d been accepted.
My brothers and sisters were more excited than I was. I thought I was a little too old for the kid’s show, but their excitement soon had me looking forward to my first venture into the world of TV.
The idea of the show was that the kids who came on were asked to bring in old Streets ice-cream wrappers. For an ice-block wrapper they’d give you two points, a paddlepop three and so on as the treat got more expensive.
With two weeks to go before the show my family went into battle-mode.
Brothers and sisters scattered to the four winds visiting local shops to turnover their bins for old wrappers.
I even think they followed people eating ice-creams just so they could retrieve them.
By the time I walked into the Channel Nine studios I had three garbage bags full of wrappers.
When the count was complete I was handed a certificate to say 23,426 points.
As we were herded into the studio the whispers went around. “How many points have you got?” it soon became apparent that I was Mr Big.
I had the show won before we even sat down. If I wasn’t excited before, now I was almost wetting myself.
Into the studio we marched and there in front of us were the prizes to be auctioned.
I can’t remember what was on show except for two items. A chemistry set and yes, you guessed it, a pump-up tyre scooter.
Compere, Bruce Menzies, gave us a run-down on how to bid at an auction. I didn’t listen I just knew that when the scooter came up I was going to shout with my biggest voice “23,426 points”.
As the show went on I sat as still as a mouse, I didn’t want anyone to think I was bidding.
Then it came up. The moment I had waited seemingly all my life for.
“What am I bid for this scooter,” Bruce bellowed out.
I bellowed back, “23,426 points.”
At first I thought he couldn’t hear me, and it had to be explained to me later that he was ignoring me because I was wrecking his auction.
Finally he said, “yes, 23,426 points come on down.”
The scooter was mine.
Mum told me later that it was bedlam at home in the lounge room as my brothers and sisters started to cheer.
My brother Michael was insisting I’d got the scooter for him, Warren started to cry.
We only lived a few miles from the TV studio so with a quick pump of the tyres I set off home.
I can’t tell you how proud I was when I sailed down my street aboard my scooter to the cheers of my family.
Life certainly rolls out some strange twists.