My Personal Journey through Post-punk, Art, Music and Radio
8. Finishing Driving, Work and the Starting of Background Noise
In September of 1997 I was finally forced to give up driving a car due to reduced control of my feet and arms. In 1992 I had made the transition to hand controls for my car as the muscle control in my legs had become very poor due to the multiple sclerosis. Hand controls, as the name implies, relies on good strength and control of arms and hands which are used in lieu of legs for braking and accelerating. Having to give up driving, as you can imagine, was another blow to my independence as I now had to rely on the disabled taxi service for my transportation to and from work and my various activities.
It was at this time that I met a disabled taxi driver by the name of Emanuel Makrillos. He was to be a major part of my life and provided me with wonderful support over the next six years. He became my regular driver and I was able to continue my various activities with his help and support. He went far beyond the call of duty for a taxi driver.
In March of 1998 I was asked to terminate my contract at the RTA. By that time the multiple sclerosis had taken hold and greatly reduced my efficiency in the workplace as an engineer. I decided then that this would be the end of my working life. I had worked for 16 years as a structural engineer and enjoyed every minute of it. It was a great feeling of fulfilment to see structures being built, strengthened or refurbished from my design. I had wonderful support and gained valuable experience while working as a bridge engineer at the RTA. I worked on many different bridges but I was most pleased to be involved in the design of the final stage of Glebe Island Bridge (ANZAC bridge) in 1995. I designed water drainage system from the bridge deck to the underground stormwater system. This consists of large diameter (very sexy) stainless-steel piping which runs down the main bridge columns and can only be seen from down around the fish markets.
Becoming an early retiree required a lot of coming to terms, especially since my working life as an engineer had been something which I loved and was a part of me. In many ways it was a relief as I had really struggled and persevered with working and my developing multiple sclerosis.
I said before that I had always felt that my brain had been divided down the middle with one half science and the other half art. It was now time for the arts side of my brain to take over. I now had more time for The Loop Orchestra, the arts in general and radio.
My colleague from The Loop Orchestra, Richard Fielding had been offered a fortnightly two-hour radio program on my old stomping ground, 2 MBS FM. He asked me if I would like to join him as co presenter. He suggested we call the program Background Noise. We started in June 1998 and I have been doing it ever since (it is now 2004). I present new electronic and experimental music releases from all over the world. My co presenter has mainly been Richard but for just on a year it was Garry Bradbury (Sydney experimental sound artist and one-time member of Severed Heads). Over the years we have interviewed quite a few important current sound artists from around the world. With Richard: Minit and Pimmon from Sydney and Peter Rehberg (aka Pita from Vienna); with Garry: Florian Hecker (aka Hecker, from Germany), Carsten Nicolai (aka Noto, from Berlin) and Christian Marclay from USA. All of these went to air on Background Noise . I had of course done many interviews between 1982 and 1985 while doing Hot Dog You Bet and since 1994 for Radio National (ABC). I also give information about current releases, performances and happenings on Background Noise .
Also, since stopping work the muscle control in my legs and arms deteriorated due to the multiple sclerosis. I bought a motorised wheelchair in March 1998 and in 2001 acquired a chin control for my motorised wheelchair as I was no longer able to drive it with my hand.