I'VE had a few people ask about my past so I've decided to interview myself! Yeah, I know it's a bit hedonistic, but got to fill the column somehow.
Kermie: We have a small problem to begin with.
A: What's that?
Kermie: There you go. Who's speaking in bold - me or me?
A: Ok you do the bold and I'll just be Graham Harsant.
Q: Righto. I've known you for 59 years so this should be an easy interview. Don't give me bullshit answers 'cos I'll know! Where did it all begin?
A: I was born at Healesville, Victoria which is where I live now. Did all the things that every country kid does - kicked the cow pats, walked the High St interminably, played Beatles and Stones, Animals, Hendrix and Led Zep. We made our own fun.
Got out of Hooterville at 18 and headed for the smoke. Jagged a job with Channel 7, Melbourne.
After three years they offered me a transfer to the Sydney sales office for a couple of years and I ended up staying in that town for 22. I actually wanted to do something more creative. Got offered a job as trainee news cameraman but couldn't afford the drop in salary so knocked it back. Luckiest decision of my life as Tony Stewart, the bloke who took the job, was one of the Balboa Five who got killed in Timor in '75. I often think that could've been me and funnily enough I feel a bit guilty. Tony was a great bloke.
Q: All that time in Sydney with 7?
A: Nah. But it was nearly all in advertising sales, or what a mate of mine endearingly termed the Wonderful World of Wank. Used to drink at a pub in North Sydney nicknamed "The House of Germs" because that's where all the ad-salesmen went.
Q: So you were a germ?
A: Yep. And I loved every minute of it! What other job in the world would insist that you go to lunch every day, drink a heap of booze and eat yourself into a new - and larger - nickname. This was all in the late '70s and early '80s before a three-letter word became dirtier than the four-letter one. The dreaded FBT. The Fringe Benefits Tax took the fun out of lunchtime.
Q: You mention nicknames. How'd Kermie come about?
A: Had a few over the years. They seemed to change with each job. It was Harso when I was young. "Tailgate" at 7 (Harsant-Arse end-Tailgate), "Big G" (thanks to those long lunches), "Smooch" and now Kermie. That came about at Tamworth one year when I bought a pair of bright green crocs, and has stuck since.
Q: Ad-sales isn't writing. How'd you move across?
A: Actually I'd write a heap in the ad-sales roles. Proposals, presentations, to get the business.
Q: So, always in the media then?
A: No. Managed a pub in Sydney for a bit, that was one of the first to put on live music. Rubbed shoulders with Cold Chisel, Midnight Oil, Mental as Anything, The Angels and lots of others. Ran my own media business for a while and made some money but lost more. Tried to start up a couple of magazines with a mate but they were champagne ideas and we only had a beer budget. Shame 'cos they were good ideas. Moved back to Hooterville when my biz went bust. Then my two boys came along. I ended up playing Mr. Mum for a few years and did book-binding out of home.
Then I got a call to do some ad sales on another truck title. We were a small band of merry men and the editor would occasionally call on me to cover a story here in Victoria. It was a good reason to get my HR and HC licences. Seems I had a bit of a knack for writing and it gradually took over.
Q: Always loved trucks?
A: Didn't think a lot about them - except they indicated to me the best places to eat when on the road. The last eight years though, has been a blast.
I've grown to appreciate what these things can do. You can't help but be impressed by them. The thing that I've fallen in love with though is the people.
This industry is so full of characters, stories - tall and true, funny and tragic. I can't imagine writing about anything else.
Big Rigs fills a really important role in the trucking industry and I love the feedback I get from the readers. I dig writing about the trucks but I love writing about the people.
Q: What are your interests outside Big Rigs?
A: Learnt guitar at 13 and can still play the same three chords and 12-bar that I learnt back then. Play crap golf. Been married to lovely Rita for just over four-and-a-half years - third time lucky. Rita gave me my third boy, Steve, who's 22 (great guy and no nappy changes!), and introduced me to Country Rock.
Q: Friends in the business or outside?
A: Both. Got mates stretching back 45 years and meet new ones all the time. That's the great thing about this job - meeting people.
Q: And the future?
A: Write for Big Rigs for as long as they want me. In a song, a good friend, Harry Jon Nanos wrote:
The road ahead has a much clearer view,
And regret doesn't have much to say,
Because the windscreen's wider than the rear view mirror,
And what's behind us just fades away.
It's not a bad tenet for life. Rita and I intend to spend a lot of time on the road together, looking ahead and taking what we find as it comes along.
You're welcome Kermie.