In 1955 a 16 year old John Howard appeared on a radio broadcast of Jack Davey's Give it a Go quiz show. It is mighty revealing. The Prime Minister is exposed as a cocky kid with absolutely no clue about the answers, but a cheeky confidence in going for it, anyway.
All schoolteachers are familiar with this kind of kid - basically ignorant but always open to negotiation when it comes to catching the teacher's eye. It is an old plaint of feminists that the schoolgirl who happens not to know the answer won't put up her hand; the boy with half an answer (or in young John's case, none at all) will still have a crack at it in the hope that something will turn up. In the broadcast, it becomes evident that the audience (which probably doesn't know the answer, either) begins to side with the kid, and the quizmaster, sensing this, encourages him - an early lesson in populism; perhaps a crucial one.
Why does Howard stay on? The naughty-boy thesis would be that he could not help himself - he was just having too much fun! Years ago, everybody wrote him off, but now he's the king of the castle.
The prize was 10 cakes of Velvet soap for every correct answer. Howard didn't answer questions correctly, but it didn't matter, he walked off with 100 cakes.
Listen to Howard on Jack Davey's Give it a Go quiz here. (Unfortunately it's in Real Audio - my least favourite audio program)
Text slightly edited from: Naughty boys rule, OK?, By Alistair Mant, The Age August 2, 2004