Have you ever thought about what would be the most challenging place for a journalist to write from? Maybe Benghazi, or Tripoli, perhaps Damascus? Well not really. It is a two-bedroom share apartment on Bondi. With all the booze, free chicks, cheap pot and endless surf, a young journalist would have to have the will power of Dalai Lama just to sign a cheque, let alone for anything else. Except maybe for Newtown. Same as Bondi, minus chicks and surf.
The phone rang a few minutes before 5pm. My assistant wanted me to take this urgent call: it was from a journalist who was writing an article on watch collecting.
Immediately, I got excited - could this be the call from Bani McSpedden, the sharpest pen of Australian horology? BMS is my hero - and I've been waiting for an invitation for an interview since the day I saw his first article in the Financial Review. The guy is unparalleled. Many have tried, but only BMS succeeded in placing terms "Tissot", "TAG" and "tourbillon" in one sentence. Interchangeably, of course.
It turns out that on the other end was a wannabe surfer from Newtown.
Without any introduction, he got straight into it:
- Nick, I am writing an article titled "Investing in Watches." Would you be able to answer a couple of questions for me?
- Sure, no worries.
- OK. Here we go. Question number one: what can you tell me about IWC watches in 60 seconds or less?
He was neither joking nor patronizing, so I mentally encircled c/ stoned. Yet I could not help but help. The kid clearly possesses the most prized virtue: he wasn't a darn time waster.
- Listen Jack, this one is too tricky. Why don't we move to question 2?
- Sure Nick. Question number two: What is a better investment: Rolex Daytona or Breitling Navitimer?
- Mate, you can't go wrong with Daytona.
- Thanks - he said cheerfully - great stuff!
About three weeks later, someone emailed me the link to a major Sydney paper. Title: "Get rich quick collecting Flieger Chronographs". Miraculously, Jack pulled 3 solid paragraphs on such a challenging subject and to his credit, he also referenced me as N.H, celebrity watchmaker.
There is absolutely not a slightest doubt in my mind that he was never paid for his hard work - but hey, neither was Piers Akerman for his first article- and look at him now!
There was only one problem - ever since this incident, I haven't been feeling the same. As Lady Cora would say: “The point is, Nick, if you've refused Jack, you would never become a celebrity, but you would have an unsullied reputation. Now, you are just damaged goods.”
Well I didn't think much of it really - until about four weeks later when I got stuck in the elevator between the second and third floors of Culwulla chambers. Stuck with me - and with the elevator - was that long legged blond legal secretary from the 12th floor.
Since I am neither Indiana Jones nor Charlie Sheen, we spent time quietly staring at the floor. (Lift needed a new carpet!). Forty five minutes later, just as we were slowly running out of oxygen, she finally said:
- So, what do you do for living?
- I am a celebrity horologist.
- Wow, that's fantastic! Where is your restaurant?
[to be continued, upon request]