Analysis UP THE CHINA RABBIT-HOLE - The TV Docudrama Series

Janus

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#51
Anyone who thinks shitspouting on a public forum is a way “back into the fold” has got rocks in their head.
To be fair, there hasn't been any shit spouted just at the moment. Just the threat of it.

Like I said, I'm not a big fan of blackmail, but LR's first post about China - the one that got him booted of the Advisory Board - was borne out of frustration that no one was listening to him or replying to his emails, so it's desperate times. Maybe he knows something that the club needs to hear about. I've never pegged him as being someone who was petty.
 

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#53
I support lR in disclosing issues of concern for the Club and we supporters, and would dearly love inside info.
Itbis "must read" stuff!
And he is unequivocally as passionate and committed a supporter the club could have over there, one who do an insurmountable amount of good.
However, as some have suggested, perhaps not in a public forum, where media numbnuts can pick it out, and use it for their own agendas.
For those of us interested, maybe we can each respond direct to LR for a private copy of the dissertation?
Problem with that is any journo with evil intent against Port Adelaide could have an account here and get a private copy.

I would love to meet in person with LR and other BigFooty Port posters to get this information but that still opens it up for anti-port moles.

While I am intrigued to read more of what LR knows, I am in the DON'T POST HERE IN PUBLIC camp.
 

theDuckFarmer

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#54
Lockhart Road I know that you desperately want the club to be successful and have put your words into action and that you feel aggrieved by the attitude and actions of Koch, but be careful what you post lest it backfires on you.
 
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#55
So why is this thread still here?
Its been line and length stuff so far, so why shouldn't it still be here?

No head high full tosses aimed at the temple. No 6 bouncers per over hitting the head or just missing - Roberts, Holding, Marshall, Croft, Garner, Bishop, Patterson, Walsh, Ambrose style. No intervention from an umpire that laws have been broken.

So some uncomfortable feelings. That's what happens if you want to be involved in a world class sport or sports organisation.
 
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Thread starter #58
—————————————


UP THE CHINA RABBIT-HOLE - The TV Docudrama Series (Episode 1: ‘Poles and Wires’).


Theme music:

‘It Ain’t Necessarily So’ (Normie Rowe)



On screen:
Silhouette of narrator sitting in Aqua, a popular restaurant atop a skyscraper at the western end of Peking Road, Tsimshatsui, Kowloon, on the south corner of its junction with Canton Road. He’s sitting with his back to Victoria Harbour. It’s night time, nine p.m. Behind him, interrupted by his silhouette, is the illuminated silhouette of Hong Kong Island.


He’s signalled that he’s ready to talk to the camera. The volume on Normie Rowe reduces. Now we can listen to what the narrator has to tell us.


Voice of Narrator:

Imagination

There’s a word in the English language that for me is the most fundamental word in the English language. The word is: imagination.

Imagination can be a curse as much as it can be a gift, but I’d rather have it than not. Imagination can take you down as far as it can lift you up, but I’d rather have it than not. Imagination empowers you to invent things that never were or never could be. That’s called fiction.

Imagination can also empower you to choose real people, give them a fake name, introduce them to slots they fit snugly into as they’ve already been there, plug the result into a story and, voila, you have a plot that was true, remains true, but may not ring true because ... well, just because. This is a routine, or a ruse, called faction. It’s an imprecise genre.

That’s not what we have here. This story of mine is based on true events, is inspired by true events, or is otherwise a blatant copy of true events. It’s a story that’s not faction, but it can’t be classified as non-fiction either. It’s in between, at any given moment closer to one or the other.

It’s a docudrama.


Curriculum vitae

At this juncture I choose to own up to something. I have been a professional writer of fiction, faction and non-fiction. This is my first shot at docudrama. It’s a challenge. To docudramatise in a format that maintains relevance and keeps the plot and thus the story around it - which is my story - interesting, educational, even entertaining in places, is a challenge.

On my c.v. are historical novels set on the China Coast that were published in New York by St. Martin’s Press and in London by W.H. Allen, which is now an imprint of Penguin Random House but was back then part of Virgin.

I’ve subsequently been well rewarded to research, write, design-manage, and oversee the printing of detailed in-depth corporate histories for clients of the calibre of PwC China (to whose 1898-2002 history I gave the title of ‘Counting House’) and the Hong Kong Football Club (whose own 1886-2011 story and status in the world of sport I’ll expand on during this episode).

And I have created for multicultural children between ages five and eleven, at an international school on Hong Kong Island, an illustrated fantasy which teaches them the history of the school they attend in an autobiographical format. It is a story narrated by their school mascot, an immortal Chinese dragon. There’s nothing unusual in that. All Chinese dragons are immortal, especially the imaginary ones.


Not even close

Okay, now I’ve revealed that I’m a writer, that I’m no amateur at the caper. So why am I publishing this experimental docudrama here, for free?

Is it really only to indulge myself in a blatant ego trip, at the expense of the patience and intelligence of you, the audience ... as somebody has seen fit to accuse?

Not even close.

Here’s a piece of rationale. If I am indeed propelled by personal ego above all else, I would’ve made sure you knew a long time ago a lot more than you already do about books and articles I’ve written and had published over the past thirty-plus years. I’ve had my chances. For the last six of those thirty-plus years, I’ve been posting regularly on this forum. For six years I’ve been posting here about our football club, not about me.


Superior things

Even so, I have an ego, of sorts. I wasn’t born with it. I was born shy, sickly, vulnerable, afflicted with asthma, undersized, as skinny as a kid could be. Consequently I grew up with an inferiority complex, with which I became so frustrated I had to fix it or fall too far behind. I set out to do superior things, and I pulled a few of them off, examples of which will be revealed in places in this story. That’s how an ego develops, is my guess, like pecs and biceps, and experience and wisdom. If you succeed at a superior thing or two you grow bigger, live longer, get smarter. If you get a life, make a life, live a life ... the ego tags along, and grows, too. Note I said ‘grows’ not takes over.

Caution. If at the end of that life you’ve got, made and lived, you tell others about it, in writing if you can write, you risk being pigeonholed as an egotist ... when your story is instead driven by the pride you have in the life you’ve lived ... when your story is instead driven by the gratitude you have stored for your mates, your teachers and mentors, especially your family ... when your story is instead driven by your fascination for the sliding doors and the vicissitudes and especially the pure arse that has got you through ... when your mission is to write the last story you will write, the best story you can write, in this life of yours that you’re looking back on.


Allergies

Let me lay something else out here. The scourge of childhood asthma is caused by allergies which themselves can be caused by something psychological. I had them all: house dust mite, airborne pollen, cat’s hair, cow’s milk, fresh air in winter. At age eleven I was an hour away from a ruptured appendix. It left behind five gruesome catgut stitches and a centipede-like six-inch scar that I still admire. The ordeal was well worth it. My appendix took all of my allergies with it, to keep it - bloated inflamed slug of an organ that it was - company inside the macabre see-through jar of formalin that was the first thing to catch my eye when I came out of the anaesthetic.

All of them. All of my allergies. Gone. Except for one, that has grown large. I’m pathologically allergic to the unspoken word. I’m just as allergic to the unwritten phrase. I have zero tolerance of any intention to die wondering.

Likewise, I aim not to leave others in the dark. I elect not to take with me an unpublished memoir, thereby denying others their natural choice - whether to learn about, or not bother learning about, the muted clatter of dominoes that has brought this football club of ours - against all odds, against all the rules of probability - within touching distance of something monumental.

Yes, you heard me. Something monumental. And yes, it is out there. Within touching distance.

Imagine that.


But unless

But unless we rediscover the gumption to reach out for it, unless we muster the extra strength to seize it, unless we pool the smarts to know what to do with it after we’ve closed our fist upon it, and unless we honestly, sincerely and fearlessly want it ... it might as well not be.

Unless we - the Port Adelaide Football Club - resolve to do a superior thing with this something monumental that is out there within touching distance ... then, sure as sharks in the shallows, it might as well not be.

And all the strategic science; all the new hope, the lost hope, the renewed hope; all the advice proferred; all the private initiative taken in defiance of a vacuum of communication; and everything that my volunteer colleagues have put into this superior thing with me over a period of four years ... it will all go to waste. Every micron, every gram, every erg, every single thought and impulse. It will all go to waste. It will all have been for nothing.

Imagine that.


Silent Majority

Most people don’t have an inclination to reveal. Most people elect to keep themselves to themselves, keep minding their own business, leave others alone to mind theirs. Most people fit among those whom Richard Nixon dubbed the Silent Majority - at the time when there came forth, to take a toxic dump in his Rose Garden, a fed-up, rebellious, determined Pentagon analyst by the name of Daniel Ellsberg.

Silence can be golden. But not when it’s not. Ellsberg transformed - at the conclusion of a hard audit on himself motivated by what he’d seen with his own eyes and done with his own hands - from being a Pentagon analyst, a Robert McNamara stooge, into a realist, a crusader with access to a secret weapon which, released by heroic correspondents and their equally heroic editors, proved mightier than the sword.

Ellsberg’s weapon packed such recoil it self-inflicted upon him the trauma of standing trial for treason. More importantly, it packed the power to not only shorten the Vietnam War via public protest, but to knock down every domino, one after the other, that measured the natural life expectancy of Nixon’s presidency. Daniel Ellsberg’s secret weapon packed enough power in toto to not only prosecute a President, but to engineer his abdication.

Me? Think of me as a storyteller, not a crusader, let alone an egotist. I don’t have access to a secret weapon per se ... but I do have access to a secret.

And now, episode by episode, so will you.

Imagine that. Imagine what the secret might be. And then imagine what the Club is going to do about this secret that will no longer be a secret. Imagine what is going to be the superior thing for which the Club will have no viable alternative but to get moving on and to enact ... the superior thing that is out there, within touching distance.


——————-


EPISODE 1

Poles and Wires


Theme music:

‘Power Company’ (Eric Burdon)




OPENING SCENE - August 2015 (flash forward)

Sports journalists are quizzing PAFC CEO Thorold Keene and Crow Brain Trust Andrew Fagan (Rucci as moderator), and then later the same day Fagan and Nigel Smart (Richardson as interviewer) at West Lakes.

RUCCI: “Okay, this is a roundtable discussion. We’ll start with you, Andrew, as you are new in today’s South Australian footy terrain. What are your thoughts on PAFC going as far away as China for their financial rescue?”
FAGAN (clearing his throat, projecting his trademark globular eyeballs): “Er ... this is not a knock on you, Thorold ... but ... I think ... it’s a sideshow.”
KEENE (expressionless except for imperceptibly narrowed eyelids, thinks almost out loud): ‘You’ll get yours, Fages.’


Scene changes to Fagan’s office at West Lakes.
RICHARDSON (to Fagan, with Smart sitting deferentially in corner): “Andrew, I want to know what you really think of PAFC’s venture in China?”
FAGAN: “It’s a sideshow.”
SMART: “Yes a sideshow.”
RICHARDSON: “Okay ... but if they make something of it ... if ... big if I know ... is it your intention ... is it the Adelaide Football Club’s intention ... to follow PAFC down the ... er ... China rabbit-hole?”
FAGAN: “Never!”
SMART: “Yes never!”
RICHARDSON: “I’ll take that as a never.”
SMART: “Yes a never!”


Richardson taps his lead sentence into his iPad: The Adelaide Crows will not be following their crosstown rival Port Adelaide down the China rabbit-hole.

RICHARDSON (thinks): ‘Actually, as we are the ones Down Under, it would be up the China rabbit-hole. Yes. Up the China Rabbit-hole. Good title, that. But what goes up, must come down. Port Power, go for it. You’re up for a big fall.’

https://indaily.com.au/sport/football/2015/09/03/crows-happy-to-leave-china-to-port/


SCENE 1 (Flashback) -
Twelve months earlier: Saturday night, 9 August 2014, Adelaide Oval.


Notes for director:
Camera close-up on lead Chinese AFL footballer in red and yellow top, a miniature Chinese flag and unobtrusive PAFC Power logo on his chest, in the lead of a file of Team China players en route to competing in the 2014 AFL International Cup to run on to Adelaide Oval. Camera view widens, takes in the atmosphere under floodlights of a Saturday night AFL spectacular PAFC style, with silhouette of City of Adelaide in the background, the Southern Cross in the sky above.


It is halftime in the home game vs. the Swans. Team China greets the crowd. Robin Robbins (who flew from Hong Kong on the same plane as Team China having donated $10,000 to PAFC’s sponsorship of South China AFL in which all the Chinese players compete) and Daryl Ander continue the dialogue they had started prior to the game in the McLachlan Room, where they are again. They had found themselves sitting at the same table, right next to each other, at the ‘Before The Bounce’ chairman’s function (which Ander attended as a substitute for invitee Tom Doolittle who works for him).

They have found that they have much in common, both being passionate PAFC members and both being in the fund management game with business links to China and beyond. In the background, on the Oval, the hypertonic visitors from South China are waving flags, high-fiving the Port Adelaide faithful leaning over the fence, arms outstretched in greeting, gesturing in warm welcome, exhibiting unreserved gratitude for making PAFC their chosen team in China. The Chinese team captain stands in the middle of Adelaide Oval being interviewed on Channel 7.

ROBBINS (looking up at the nearest screen): “What do you think of this, Daryl?”
ANDER: “It’s wonderful. What can I do to help you help it along?”
ROBBINS: “How well do you know China?”
ANDER: “I know a number of Chinese, but I can’t say I know China itself at all. You have to live in China, study its history, feel its culture. You have to be able to read its mind. Even then a foreigner won’t know much about how to handle China.”
ROBBINS: “You think Karl Krupp is on to something here?”
ANDER: “He might be. He says he is. He’s saying a lot these days about China. But he ticks none of the boxes. Not one. He’s never lived in China, never studied China to my knowledge. He’s going to need a lot of help. He’s only a TV star.”
ROBBINS: “He said all the right things in his speech this afternoon.”
ANDER: “He did. Several times. He talks a fast-moving game. But he skims the surface. He talks a game of ducks and drakes.”
ROBBINS (nods): “He tries to sound dinkum about a commitment to China.”
ANDER: “Talk. As I said, just talk. We won’t know if he’s serious, if he’s dinkum. Not until he appoints qualified China directors to his board to advise him. Even then ... not until he shuts up and listens to them, then activates their advice.”
ROBBINS: “Would you be interested in getting involved to that extent?”
ANDER: “Depends on Karl Krupp, and on events, doesn’t it?”
ROBBINS: “Did you know that ‘dinkum’ is a Chinese word? Cantonese, in fact. It means ‘real gold’.”
ANDER: “Who told you that?”
ROBBINS: “Lockhart Road.”
ANDER: “Is he Chinese?”
ROBBINS: “In a previous life, I reckon.”
ANDER: “I look forward to meeting him.”
ROBBINS: “Word of advice. Stay on his soft side.”
 
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Thread starter #59
SCENE 2 (Flash forward) -
November 2014, weekday lunchtime, a street-side table at Coyote, Mexican bar and restaurant, Wanchai, Hong Kong.


Robin Robbins and Lockhart Road are meeting, as they do once every week, to discuss the progress of PAFC’s China Strategy. Robbins debriefs Road after his recent follow-up lunch meeting with Daryl Ander in Melbourne. Now that Ander and Robbins have met twice, a relationship is forming, with Port Adelaide as the glue and the China Strategy as their mission.

ROBBINS: “Poles and wires, LR. That’s what it’s all about, according to Daryl. Poles and wires - ”
ROAD: “We’ll have a bottle of wine? Whose shout is it?”
ROBBINS: “Mine.”
ROAD: “In that case we’ll have a bottle of wine. Red or white?”
ROBBINS: “You know I drink white.”
ROAD: “In that case we’ll have the sauvignon blanc. It’s the most expensive on the list. One bottle or two?”
ROBBINS: “I have a meeting at two-thirty.”
ROAD: “I don’t have meetings at two-thirty anymore.”
ROBBINS: “You don’t have meetings, full stop.”
ROAD: “I have meetings with you.”
ROBBINS: “One a week.”
ROAD: “It’s off-season. I could meet with you twice a week.”
ROBBINS: “I don’t want to meet with you twice a week.”
ROAD: “Nor should you. I’m retired. I like it that way.”
ROBBINS: “I’ll have the set lunch this time.”
ROAD: “I’ll have the usual just for a change.”
ROBBINS: “Chili con carne. It suits you.”
ROAD: “You were saying ... ?”
ROBBINS: “Poles and wires - ”
ROAD (wry grin): “Pylons and conductors. Poles and wires is American speak.”
ROBBINS: “ - and social responsibility. Poles and wires and social responsibility. Put them all together and you have ... an opportunity.”
ROAD: “Won’t this clash with the EnergyAustralia partnership?”
ROBBINS (shakes head): “EA is retail, consumer reliant. Electricity Grid of SA is restricted to high voltage. What do you call it?”
ROAD (switching on at last): “Transmission. EHV. Extra high voltage. Up here on the grids that’s 400kV and 132kV in Kowloon, operated by CLP ... on the Island it’s 275kV and 132kV, operated by Hongkong Electric. Pylons and conductors. There’s 1: transmission, 2: distribution, 3: consumer connection, retail. Big gap between 1. and 3. Clear separation. Yes, Robin, this can work.”
ROBBINS: “Poles and wires and social responsibility ... “
ROAD: “Pylons and conductors and social responsibility ... “
ROBBINS: “And community.”
ROAD (nodding): “And publicity. Don’t overlook publicity. Publicity is the most important chip in the mosiac as I see it. Publicity is the contribution that we can make. We have to be the publicist before we can make the vital contribution, then only if it can be done properly. If done scientifically. If done smart. There’s no point doing unless we publicise what the doing is ... and it produces revenue in the process.”
ROBBINS: “Well, okay ... you’re the published author, LR, and the professional historian ... and you’re the one with commercial history in the power industry - “
ROAD: “Yeah I’m a bloody marvel. What you mean is that I should know what I’m talking about. Well, that goes for you, too, mate. We’re a pair of marvels, we are, you and I. We have seventy-five years of varied live-in business, general and specific experience up here between us.”
ROBBINS: “You think that makes a difference? That they’ll take note?”
ROAD (shrugs): “What I know is that media on its own isn’t enough. Media only drip-feeds a market. We need more than a feeding process. We need complete creativity. We need to massage the market, create a new shape. You don’t do that with media by itself, you do it with communication - part of which is media. You have to create a new shape, a new feeling, a new emotion. All of that put together is the key to communication. Anything less is ... too little.”
ROBBINS: “That’s what Daryl Ander was indicating. That’s what China State Net need, he said. To set up and project a new image of themselves. They’re stuck in the China quicksand in the eyes of the Australian public ... and they need help to get out by streamlining their image. He’s spoken to them about it. They believe their social responsibility track record is good enough, but it isn’t, and nobody knows enough about it anyway. They’re bidding next on half of the power grid in New South Wales. They’re convinced they’re going to win it, but Daryl isn’t. There’s a wave of anti-Chinese emotion building in Australia, and China State Net’s an obvious target. They’re too big in Australia already. They own nearly half of EGSA plus other sectors of the national grid. In both electrical power and gas.”
ROAD: “So our job is to put the big drover’s hat on the big Chinese head, put it there angled just so, not too much brow, not too little brow. Present the result to Mr. and Mrs. Australia. Miss Australia, too, if she’s about.”
ROBBINS: “Our job? Yours and mine and Daryl’s?”
ROAD: “Give us a break, Robin. We have a club president - sorry, chairman of the board - who is neck-deep in the short-attention-span TV business, have we not? And he’s in the information media, is he not? And he also produces small-business TV programmes with his small-business small family business. And to add to that we have a member of the board who produces Australian Football TV stuff for a broad Australian Football TV audience - “
ROBBINS: “You’ve just said we need more than all that.”
ROAD: “I did. I was right. We need communications. Complete, all-round, multi-faceted communications.”
ROBBINS. “You’ve met him a few times. What do you make of him?”
ROAD (remembering, frowning): “Krupp? Haven’t decided yet. But the signs for me are less than reassuring. My very first impression of him wasn’t good. Aloof, suspicious of new faces encroaching on his turf, paranoid, self-obsessed for sure. First impressions are infallible, I’ve discovered. I used to work for someone like Karl Krupp ... for fifteen years in two attempts. It did not end well, the first time. Second time it ended just fine ... for me. A hard lesson learnt slowly is a painful lesson in planning ahead.”
ROBBINS: “Sounds like Confucius.”
ROAD: “Sounds like me. I just made it up.”
ROBBINS: “Sounds like you.”


After Robbins leaves, Road sits by himself awhile ... thinking ... concentrating ... planning ... remembering ... frowning.

Theme music:

‘Just My Imagination’ (Gwyneth Paltrow and Babyface)



SCENE 3 (Flashback) -
Wednesday night, 24 September 2014 - Main Bar of Foreign Correspondents’ Club (FCC), Hong Kong.


Notes:
Outside view of red brick, masonry and stucco heritage-listed building. Camera zooms in to entrance, focuses on the wide dark-weathered iron signage above the door, THE FOREIGN CORRESPONDENTS’ CLUB, then peeks through tall original ground-floor windows on Ice House Street one by one into the FCC Main Bar, concentrates on a group of three at a table just the other side of one of the middle windows.


They are Lockhart Road, his Chinese wife, and The Great Man.

Voice of Narrator:
The Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Hong Kong was established by a crew of war correspondents in Chiang Kai-shek’s Chungking (Chongqing), China at the end of the Second World War. That’s where the antiquarian cast iron sign above the front door may have come from - a Chungking foundry. The club relocated to Shanghai post-war and then, when Mao took over, to Hong Kong in 1950. The FCC went theatrical, occupied a building on Conduit Road, Mid-Levels, on the side of Victoria Peak, that was used as a set for the hospital in the movie ‘Love is a Many-Splendored Thing’. The FCC moved temporarily circa 1963 to a high floor of the then brand-new Hilton Hotel on the corner of Garden Road and Queen’s Road Central. Then the club moved closer to the harbour, the top of Sutherland House on Chater Road, Central, on the other side of Club Street from the oh so pukka Hong Kong Club and across Chater from the green-grass oasis amongst the concrete and bitumen of the Hong Kong Cricket Club ... which is now up in the mountains, the field sitting on a filled-in valley at Wong Nai Chung Gap. The FCC, Sutherland House version, was chosen as an emotive setting by John Le Carre in ‘The Honorable Schoolboy’. Le Carre reputedly drank at the FCC a lot, inspired by those who drank a lot with him.


By the early 1990s the FCC had made its final relocation into this historic 19th century structure in upper Ice House Street. The FCC abuts to the west today’s eating and drinking, singing and dancing districts of Lan Kwai Fong and SoHo, an abbreviation for ‘South of Hollywood Road’. In the 1800s this building had been, yes, you guessed it, an ice house - in which giant blocks of shipped-in Canadian river water were stacked and stored.

During a refurbishment several years ago, the orginal ornate stone floor tiles were discovered under the old wooden flooring in the Main Bar; they were restored, are there for club members and their guests to walk upon to get to the stadium-shaped bar - thick long wooden parallel counters with semi-circular sections at each end - in the centre of the room, surrounded by stools for drinking members and tables for eating and drinking members. There is no such thing as a non-drinking member at the FCC. On Fridays, after office hours, when the Main Bar is heavily populated, standing room only, noisy and boisterous and predatory, it is called Zoo Night.

Notes:
Both Lockhart Road and Robin Robbins are members of the FCC.


The three people at the table off to one side next to a window looking out on Ice House Street are talking about Australian Football. Actually, two are talking and the other pretends to listen. Mrs Road is not a devotee to the sport, any sport, more a devotee to her husband getting something material for the family out of this chee seen crazy PAFC scheme he is determined to keep pursuing.

THE GREAT MAN: “Nah, we just weren’t good enough. We missed our chance to win a flag and that chance is gone. We’ll never get it back. I won’t have this prevailing bullshit that we did well, we lost honorably, we were one kick away from glory, we’re gonna make up for it next year. There’s a lot of ignorant shyte and noise going around the Club this week, and most is coming from that ... “
He turns to Mrs. Road.
THE GREAT MAN: “What do Chinese people think of Karl Krupp?”
Mrs. ROAD: “We don’t think anything of him. He’s nobody up here.”
ROAD (to The Great Man): “What do you think of Karl Krupp?”
The Great Man takes up his pint of draft Tsingtao, quaffs an inch, gives Road a succinct personal opinion.
ROAD: “That could make things unnecessarily difficult.”



SCENE 4 -
Two days later.
Friday afternoon, 26 September 2014 in an open-sided corner bar called Mes Amis (no longer there) in Wanchai. It is the location where a year earlier Tom Jonas, to standing applause, performed twenty-something one-armed push-ups on the sidewalk. He would’ve carried on, but the crowd got too involved. These days Tom would find himself being torn to shreds by the SA media for exposing himself to career-ending injury ... even though he was under expert supervision from The Great Man and LR who would, in fact, probably cancel each other out in the expert supervision caper.


Notes:
Yesterday, The Great Man was leading a troop of teachers in an AusKick clinic for about seventy kids on the quadrangle at the Australian International School in Kowloon. Rick Mattinson this morning landed in Hong Kong to join The Great Man as PAFC VIP guests the next day at the AFL Grand Final Luncheon hosted by the Dragons AFL Club and the Australian Association of Hong Kong. (The event is now only hosted by the Dragons.) The annual AFL function, thanks to Road’s manipulations, has in 2014 been moved out of a Wanchai hotel to the more economical though more capacious indoor Sports Hall at the Hong Kong Football Club. The event is a component of the reciprocal partnership between HKFC and PAFC signed and exchanged in September 2013.


Mattinson has flown overnight via Melbourne. Road and Robbins have met him and The Great Man for lunch at Coyote, have given the visitors the rest of the day off to prepare for the main event next day.

No PAFC players have been allowed to fly up for Grand Final weekend this year. Alberton is on lockdown by order of Senior Coach Hinkley. The wooing of Paddy Ryder has precluded everything.

Robbins post-lunch has gone back to his office in Central. Road has adjourned to Pro Drinkers Corner in Mes Amis to make a few calls on his Nokia C2-01. He gets one back from the South China Morning Post.

ROAD: “Sam ... Agars? Hi Sam. The only Agars I know of is Merv Agars. He was in the same West Adelaide team as Fos Williams in the 1947 grand final.”
AGARS: “Merv is my grandfather.”
ROAD: “Well how would you be? I saw him play often back in the fifties when I was a small boy.”
AGARS: “What time do you want me at the Football Club in the morning?”
ROAD: “Ten a.m. should be fine. You’ll catch the end of the AusKick clinic and after that comes the match between the Dragons and Team China. Is the Post sending a photographer?”
AGARS: “He’ll be with me.”
ROAD: “Great stuff, Sam. See you then.”
AGARS: “Look forward to it. I’ve just landed in Hong Kong looking for free-lance work. I have to say it’s all very different to working for the Bunyip in Gawler. The last sport I expected to be asked to write about in Hong Kong is Aussie Rules.”
ROAD: “Mate, it was meant to be.”



SCENE 5 -
Next morning, Main Pitch, Hong Kong Football Club, north-east corner Happy Valley Race Course.
Present on sidelines: The Great Man, Rick Mattinson, Sam Agars with notebook out as Australian Football is played on the artificial turf of the Hong Kong Football Club’s integrated IRU-standard Rugby pitch / FIFA-standard soccer pitch.


Setting:
Camera travels through the HKFC’s tall glass entrance doors facing Sports Road on its eastern corner with Wong Nai Chung Road East with its tramlines and double-decker trams first introduced in 1904 ... through the club lobby past the white marble zig-zag staircase rising from its midst, into the Tunnel with its historic galleries to left and right of antiquarian team photos, angling lower, travelling beneath the racetrack to the Octagon - the memorial to the eleven club members who lost their lives in the Bali tragedy of October 2001 - then to the left and up towards the Sportsmans Bar on the Race Course infield, out via a door in the glass wall on the right and on to the Main Pitch and its spectator stands along the south and north wings.


Voice of narrator:
The Hong Kong Football Club has remained virtually in the same spot since its formation in 1886. In its earliest years it was a makeshift pavilion - put together in the temporary fashion of the day for such structures with China fir poles, bamboo frames and lashed-on brush mats - which regularly burnt down due to a discarded cigar butt or was blown down by a typhoon, and a football pitch minus grass in the dryer months through which the racetrack and its galloping steeds had right of way. Rugby and Association Football (soccer) were jointly and equally accommodated in the HKFC constitution - hence its popular title as ‘the Football Club’, and hence its eighteen-strong General Committee today being eclectic of mind enough to admit Gaelic Football and Australian Football into its curriculum.


But the HKFC’s freedoms have always been, more or less, engineered by its fabulously rich encroaching neighbour, the Hong Kong Jockey Club. In the early 1990s, a divorce settlement, rather than breaking a hundred-plus years of forced marriage, unexpectedly worked to the Football Club’s benefit in fairy tale happy-ending fashion. The Jockey Club had decided it had no choice but to go international - a bit like PAFC recently, but only a bit. In order, however, for the Jockey Club to go international, the Football Club had to ... go.

The seven-furlong racetrack was too dangerous. Its bends were too acute, its home straight too short, to meet international racing safety standards and thus attract Group 1 events and their global betting bonanza to Happy Valley. The Football Club in the north-east corner of the Race Course was smack bang in the way of the racetrack’s reconfiguration. An obstruction was the Football Club. A dashed nuisance, it was, that football club, that majority expatriate minority-sport-minded squatter community.

It was decided that the Football Club should move up the hill, to the top of Shan Kwong Road, and the Jockey Club would take over all of the north-east corner of its Race Course. But the Government surveyors refused to play ball, no pun intended. Traffic flow and parking, high-rise residential lifestyle pressures, and the very real danger of landslip-prone slopes put a halt on the Shan Kwong Road ambitions. The urgent altruistic alternative was for the Jockey Club to bite a very big bullet and agree to the Football Club staying put.

If the Jockey Club was truly determined to extend its racetrack farther to the north it would have to put up the money to reconstruct the Football Club so that the track could run through it. Yes, not around it - through it. The Jockey Club would have to design and build for the Football Club an ultra-modern three-storey clubhouse with an internal sports hall for netball, badminton, basketball and games for the disabled, plus world-standard Rugby, soccer and field hockey pitches, plus two lawn-bowling facilities, one outdoor, the other on carpet indoors ... all of this on three hectares of original Happy Valley, the primest of prime real estate owned by the Hong Kong Government and made available to the Football Club via a renewable fifteen-year recreational lease. Add to that seven squash courts capable of staging world-standard tournaments, plus ten-pin bowling, rooftop tennis and, oh yes, an outdoor deluxe second-floor swimming pool complete with tropical holiday resort setting - so incongruously relaxing and recreational right in the midst of hustling bustling Hong Kong.

The Football Club thus escaped from its impending divorce from the Jockey Club in fine shape. Fine shape? With an enlarged campus for multi-sports, banqueting, fast food, slow food, wine and beverage, and the indisputable title of Newest, Biggest & Best Sports Club in Asia it emerged in superlative shape! And that wasn’t all. Sitting in its investment account was a cheque for HK$35,000,000 (A$6 million) in compensation paid by the Jockey Club for ‘inconvenience’ suffered during the physical three-year redevelopment saga.

There’s a story of its own that goes with that cheque. It was collected from the Jockey Club by the HKFC’s legal advisor, a member, who slipped it into his shirt pocket whilst the champagne corks popped and the triple-malt ran rusty into chunky crystal tumblers monogrammed with the famous blue and yellow horseshoe, riding crop and stirrups. With the morning came drama. Said legal advisor, having torn his flat apart in a search for the $35 million cheque, found it in the last place he’d thought to look. It was still inside the same shirt pocket, at the bottom of a basket of soiled clothing etc. which his housekeeper was moments from tossing in the washing machine.

Look at it now, this Hong Kong Football Club, catering to 10,000 members and family members of members every day of the week. The north bend of the race track, removed closer to the harbour by the 1990s redevelopment, cuts the HKFC into two sections: an elongated three-storey clubhouse, and an in-field with pitches, stands, bowling green and pagoda-like Sportsmans Bar. Here is a Shangri-La of Sports - surrounded by steep even sheer verdant volcanic slopes, hemmed in by a high-rise wall of concrete, steel and glass towers impossible to put a value on for more than an instant so fast do they appreciate in market worth, and anchored by a race course famous for its excitement, its nostalgia, its romance, its wealth and the class of its act.

This, believe it or not, folks, is the northern-hemisphere football and sports club with whom PAFC in 2013 signed a Reciprocal Membership Agreement - a partnership that supplied the base camp and launch pad essential to any authentic grow-the-club, grow-the-market, grow-the-game China Strategy.

Not too shabby, hey?

Notes:
No, Lockhart Road is not a member of the HKFC. He’s the Football Club’s historian. He just goes around acting like he’s a member: a chat to the general manager, a greeting there another here, handshakes one after the other, grins everywhere, plus a one-liner or three - the quick dry irreverent Aussie sort of one-liner.


Road has always felt at home at the HKFC, ever since he took his seat outside the GM’s office in early 2008 to delve into the club’s history, back to 1886 and beyond, and write, oversee the graphic design of, and produce a coffee-table 320-page publication for the 125th anniversary in February 2011. The project was LR’s life for three years, six and a half days a week. He loved it. He loved the work. He loved the creativity the project sucked out of him, from his very roots. He loved the challenge of it, the multi-faceted challenge. The HKFC’s address is 3 Sports Road, Happy Valley. He therefore enjoyed the title, a play on ‘along the Silk Road’, that he put forward for the book and had accepted: ——along the sports road—— The Hong Kong Football Club, Its Environs and Personalities 1886 - 2011.

What LR loved, too - not more, just differently - was 2013, two years after the book was released, when he played matchmaker between PAFC and HKFC, and suggested that they hop in the sack together. Soon, perhaps, this chapter will appear in the inevitable sequel to ——along the sports road.


SCENE 6 -
Main Pitch, HKFC, Saturday morning, 27 September 2014.


Notes:
Team China vs Dragons is being played on the Main Pitch as a curtain-raiser to the AFL Grand Final Luncheon in the Sports Hall on the first floor of the HKFC Club House. The exhibition match is being played in a short-format version of Australian Football that will in pre-season 2018 be emulated by an expansion-and legacy-minded AFL CEO and christened with the working title: AFL-X.


In 1976 the first Hong Kong International Rugby Sevens tournament was staged on the HKFC’s Main Pitch, such as it was over forty years ago. A dozen teams from Asia-Pacific nations took part. After six years the annual event had grown too popular and the HKRFU moved the event to the larger Hong Kong Stadium, one valley to the east. It has just been made public that Hong Kong Stadium is to be reduced from 40,000 seats to less than 10,000. Hong Kong’s International Rugby Sevens will move again, in time for 2023, to a state-of-the-art 50,000-seat arena in the planned Sports Park at Kai Tak - where the old airport with its ninety-degree right turn brushing the face of the mountain chain known as the Nine Dragons and hairy landings among the Kowloon high-rises used to lurk.

Voice of Narrator:
Can it be? Can it be that sports evolution is set to repeat itself for HKFC? Can it be that the only available, suitable, convenient, picturesque stadium left for Gillon McLachlan to stage his AFL-whatnot TV-friendly short-format tournament in Hong Kong will prove to be the Hong Kong Football Club ... reciprocal partner since September 2013 of PAFC?
 
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Thread starter #60
SCENE 7 - Next morning, Sunday, September 28 2014.

Setting: Road stands alone on the balcony of his functional two-bedroom two-bathroom apartment in Happy Valley, Sunday morning coffee in hand, looking down on the variety of sports being contested on the eight or nine pitches on the Race Course Infield.

Notes:
Camera follows LR as he exits his flat, exits the high-rise that faces the Race Course, faces across the tramlines on the corner of Wong Nai Chung Road and Blue Pool Road. He walks south, following the route taken by the trams, towards the Hong Kong Sanatorium nestled into the feet of Mount Nicholson. He passes the Happy Valley Bar & Grill and the pub called The Jockey, neither yet open for the usual family influx of Sunday business. At a newspaper stand on the sidewalk near the tram terminus he buys a copy of the Sunday Morning Post. He flicks it open to the sports pages, finds Sam Agars’ inaugural editorial contribution to the dawn of Australian Football in Hong Kong and thus China.


https://www.scmp.com/sport/china/ar...ow-their-afl-spirit-playing-hong-kong-dragons

ROAD: “One more baby step for PAFC. Now it’s time for a longer step. Time for a bigger move. When I say big, ah means BIG.”

Road looks at the camera, sends it a wink.

Notes:
Camera follows Road as he walks back to his high-rise, the Post tucked under his arm. Camera then pans out to take in Mount Nicholson to the south, Mount Cameron to the west, takes in the august banyans lining Wong Nai Chung Road and a tram on its tracks running south past the Race Course, growing larger on the screen as it gets closer, ‘Happy Valley’ in English and Chinese characters pronounced ‘Pau Ma Day’ in Cantonese grow readable. Camera traverses the Race Course to the grandstands on the far side of the in-field, then takes in the skyscrapers of Causeway Bay and Wanchai with, just visible through gaps between them, Kowloon in the background and the Nine Dragons defining the skyline to the north, behind which there is China. During this panoramic Sunday morning visual reality tour, the narrator is narrating ....


Voice of Narrator:
Something big. That’s what I think. It can take the same amount of energy to go after something small as it does to go after something big. It requires too often the same degree of planning to grab hold of something small as it does something big. The benefit in the latter can be described as economy of scale. It is the footy gods’ diktat that a good big man beats a good little man. A small business will kill its anxiety-riddled owner just as dead as will a big business. The moral is: if there’s a choice between achieving big and achieving small, go big. Small is no real achievement to begin with.


After I was conscripted into the Army I cruised through basic recruit training, then ground my way through the more specific Infantry Corps training. It helped that I got myself fit and agile beforehand by surfing the beaches south of Adelaide and playing footy for Norwood Union. Also of significance was the routine IQ test. It had me being interviewed for OTS and passing, an invite at which I turned up my nose; I couldn’t handle the concept of any conscript being remade into an officer, least of all me, without experiencing combat. I mention this as it was, looking back, a sliding door. By blinking at OTS, I put my life on the path that has led me here, to where I am today. As it turned out, what six months of basic and then Infantry Corps training got me was as basic, as raw, as unexciting, as it gets - a posting to Reinforcement Holding Unit near Sydney.

That didn’t suit me at all. RHU meant 100% Vietnam and no control which unit I’d end up at. So I put in for an alternative posting on compassionate grounds; my father had a year earlier suffered a severe heart attack. I asked for 9RAR at Woodside. From there I could drive home at the end of the Army day, see more of my parents, claim living-out allowance, thus win three ways. The third of the wins would be that I would go to Vietnam more on my own terms, as I’d have six extra months of battalion training, six months of developing mateships, six months of working myself into a role that came with a life expectancy ... like lance-corporal pay clerk, with a desk in the orderly room. (It didn’t come fast, I was in-country four months before it did.)

But my request for posting to 9RAR at Woodside was refused. I was instead sent to 7RAR at Holsworthy, not far from RHU. 7RAR (at a future date to receive Graham Cornes from RHU as an in-country reinforcement) was returning home from Vietnam after its first twelve-month tour of duty. That there is the Army. That’s the way the Army did things, no doubt still does. A meal they make out of anything simple, a mess out of anything difficult. What’s the point, you’re asking. Where’s the ‘big’ in all this? Patience, if you will.

As soon as I got to Holsworthy (this is the first week of April 1968) I put in a new request for compassionate posting to 9RAR Woodside. That’s right, a compassionate posting out of a battalion that would not be going to war indefinitely to a battalion that was going to war in six months ... definitely. It’s a given that whoever read my transfer request at Holsworthy recommended that it be granted lickety-split. No way they wanted to keep a mental case such as this on their property. I made Woodside in time for ANZAC Day 1968, drove my dad in to watch The Great Man play his third match for Port Adelaide, the Grand Final Replay vs. Sturt. No, that’s still not the ‘big’.

The ‘big’ was Vietnam. I had essentially volunteered to go there, essentially volunteered for active service. Why? I’ve had plenty of time to think back on it and, now that I know myself, I know the answer. I didn’t want to spend all of my two years of conscripted Army existence in Australia doing nothing. I wanted to see the bigger picture. I wanted to take part on the bigger stage. I wanted not to look back and see only the small, forgettable picture, not to see my footprints on only the smaller, irrelevant stage. Sure, risk came with that decision. Risk always does. Risk always should, provided it’s risk that is calculated, even mortality risk. But it was the right decision I took. It was a gem of a decision I took. From Vietnam I came to Hong Kong. Last time I checked I was still here, half a century later.

My first permanent job in Hong Kong was dogsbody in an office in Ice House Street which employed fifty people in 1971. I left as a director in 1987, after my second tour of duty with that company, as has been mentioned in dialogue, when the payroll had over 500 names on it. The engineering sales division was created in 1973 under my management, although I’m not an engineer. By the end of 1974 we imported all of China Light & Power’s 11kV distribution transformers, all of Hongkong Electric’s, too. We imported every centimetre of Hong Kong Telephone’s multi-pair telecom cables - cables as immense as 6,000 pairs of wires in one. We imported all of Hong Kong & China Gas Co.’s ductile iron mains. We swept the utilities pool. My future was made. We went big, we did not look back, and my future was made.

Writing started in spare time in the early eighties, as therapy after a trying day working to make a hard taskmaster richer at a time when Hong Kong’s political situation viz China and 1997 was decimating the value of the local dollar. No small stuff for me when it came to writing. No short story for me. My first novel was published by W.H. Allen in London in 1988. The title was FIRE HORSE. It was released in paperback one year later - 270,000 words covering 675 pages. The cover read: ‘A conflict of towering ambition ... in the forging of modern Hong Kong’. Reviews were complimentary. Booklist called it ‘Massive and ambitious ... should appeal to readers who enjoyed James Clavell’s NOBLE HOUSE’. Publishers Weekly thought it ‘A compelling tale’. Yorkshire Post wrote: ‘A professionally written account of trade wars and commercial rivalry with ... expertise in military matters.’ I still pick up one of the four copies I have left and grip it in my fist. It’s like holding a paper brick. I open it, sniff at the pages like a hunting dog. That musty paper bouquet. It’s the smell of ... having been published.

You can, however, go too big once or twice. By the late 1990s I was out on my own in the engineering project market in Hong Kong and China. I was a consultant to, and set up a JV with, a contracting and engineering offshoot of CITIC Beijing. This was at the time when CITIC Pacific owned 25 per cent of CLP. The strategy was working well, until I decided the chief accountant was as dodgy as he was prejudiced against me, and was bonking the buxom lady boss to boot. I sold my share to them for a dollar and moved on.

That downer came not long after I’d negotiated 0.5% for myself from Siemens; they were bidding for the manufacture, supply, installation and commissioning of eight massive turbines at CLP’s power station at Black Point in the New Territories. Half per cent of the beating heart of a mighty 2,500 megawatt gas-fired power station ... just for me? Bigger than big. Siemens came in a close second. The contract went to the existing turbine supplier with whom CLP were much more familiar: General Electric. There was, to follow, a sequence of technical issues that plagued GE’s turbines at Black Point. Such news was cold comfort.

So how does this ‘big’ stuff at various stages in my fifty years of living adult life my way translate into what comes next for Port Adelaide Football Club in China, as at the last Sunday in September 2014?

Let’s wait until after Robin Robbins and Daryl Ander have talked again about PAFC and the China Strategy at their lunch in Melbourne a few weeks hence ... and Robin brings his report to our weekly table at Coyote in Wanchai. Then we can start to find out together.

In fact, you are already aware of Robin’s report; it was covered in a flash-forward earlier in this episode. That lunch at Coyote in Wanchai, remember?

So ... now we can start.

Mrs. ROAD (looks up from reading Sing Tao): “Where have you been?”
ROAD: “Buying a copy of the Post for my collection.”
Mrs. ROAD: “Collection?”
ROAD: “There’s a report about yesterday.”
Mrs. ROAD: “When are they going to pay you?”
ROAD: “Who?”
Mrs. ROAD: “You know who. Port Adelaide.”
ROAD (rolling his eyes at the camera): “Patience, my dear. Patience.”
Mrs. Road: “That’s all you ever say.”
She flicks a page of the Chinese paper as if annoyed, goes back to reading it.
ROAD (winks at camera): “Confucius he say: Most stressed man in world have American lawyer, Italian accountant, Australian servant, and Chinese wife.”


Theme music:

‘Shaddap You Face’ (Lou Monte)



Next: Episode 2 - BUSINESS CLASS - February 2015 - May 2015

  • PAFC media roadshow goes OTT in Melbourne.
  • Road lets Rick Mattinson call the shots with Tom Doolittle.
  • Road fixes for Keene to meet Ander at breakfast to talk China State Net.
  • Rockin’ Robbins fires up the chorus in the taxi to AFL House.
  • Road, over the moon, overtired, stays overnight in Melbourne.

—————————————
 
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Janus

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#64
Ego is not a dirty word. You need it to get on a national and international stage.
A healthy ego is fine. It’s when it gets in the way of making sensible and rational decisions because you want those decisions to revolve around you that ego turns into solipsism.
 

Tibbs

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#65
Ego is not a dirty word. You need it to get on a national and international stage.
All champions, elite sports people, and high achievers have some sort of ego, otherwise they wouldnt get to be high achievers in their field. As Janus says, its what they do with that ego, and how they control it that, matters.

It is the Australian way to cut down anyone with an ego, eg "tall poppy syndrome," and it is certainly evident in bucket loads on BF.
 
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Thread starter #67
My favorite part is the way you described the meeting + "handshake" with Chairman Moi, absolutely brilliant
Thank you. That is actually in the Autopsy thread, not this one. I still remember quite distinctly that handshake which was a brush-off not a handshake. I have discussed it often with my colleague who was there, and we agree that Moi’s behaviour that day was as I have described in the other thread.
 
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#69
Silent Majority

Most people don’t have an inclination to reveal. Most people elect to keep themselves to themselves, keep minding their own business, leave others alone to mind theirs. Most people fit among those whom Richard Nixon dubbed the Silent Majority - at the time when there came forth, to take a toxic dump in his Rose Garden, a fed-up, rebellious, determined Pentagon analyst by the name of Daniel Ellsberg.

Silence can be golden. But not when it’s not. Ellsberg transformed - at the conclusion of a hard audit on himself motivated by what he’d seen with his own eyes and done with his own hands - from being a Pentagon analyst, a Robert McNamara stooge, into a realist, a crusader with access to a secret weapon which, released by heroic correspondents and their equally heroic editors, proved mightier than the sword.

Ellsberg’s weapon packed such recoil it self-inflicted upon him the trauma of standing trial for treason. More importantly, it packed the power to not only shorten the Vietnam War via public protest, but to knock down every domino, one after the other, that measured the natural life expectancy of Nixon’s presidency. Daniel Ellsberg’s secret weapon packed enough power in toto to not only prosecute a President, but to engineer his abdication.

Me? Think of me as a storyteller, not a crusader, let alone an egotist. I don’t have access to a secret weapon per se ... but I do have access to a secret.

And now, episode by episode, so will you.

Imagine that. Imagine what the secret might be. And then imagine what the Club is going to do about this secret that will no longer be a secret. Imagine what is going to be the superior thing for which the Club will have no viable alternative but to get moving on and to enact ... the superior thing that is out there, within touching distance.
For those who don't know much about Daniel Ellsberg or the Pentagon Papers, they should try an dig up the excellent 2009 doco The Most Dangerous Man in America. The trailer is linked below and the phrase is what Henry Kissinger called Ellsberg. The 2017 film The Post is about how the Washington Post handled the Pentagon Papers and Ellsberg revealing them to the Post after he had given them to the New York Times and the Nixon Administration had taken out an injunction to stop the Times printing them. The Post had to work out if it took the risk to publish them after the injunction and either become heros or zeros. It published

Then the Nixon Administration took them both to court and the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in favour of the presses 1st Amendment freedom of speech rights and reinforced as well as strengthened the media's rights in the USA to reveal government secrets. Almost one year to the date of the Supreme Court ruling a security guard at Watergate hotel interrupted some of Nixon's "plumbers" breaking into the Democratic National Committee's room. Great irony is the Pentagon Papers were declassified and released in full to the Richard Nixon Presidential Library in 2011, as well as the National Archives and the Kennedy and Johnson presidential libraries.

When I first read LR's heading just above the Silent Majority heading, Allergies, I read it as Allegories. Maybe some Ellsberg / Pentagon Papers / McNamara / Nixon type allegories will emerge from the story so far, as well as into the future years.




Edit found the full doco.

 
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#72
What works very well, is putting into context the significance of partnering with the HKFC. And the base from which greater things might sprout
Any good military man knows the value of establishing a good, secure beachhead, to launch a major attack from.
 
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Thread starter #73
—————————————


UP THE CHINA RABBIT-HOLE - The TV Docudrama Series (Episode 2: ‘Business Class’).


Theme music:

‘Sunday Morning Comin’ Down’ (Johnny Cash)



Voice of Narrator:

Sunday night, 22 February 2015. This is me boarding flight CX-whatever at Chek Lap Kok International Airport. It’s an overnighter to Adelaide. I knew that something was warming up when Rick Mattinson emailed me an invite to fly down at PAFC expense. It was short notice. Only premium economy was available, but that was okay, Rick confirmed. And then it got better. At check-in at the Airport Express Terminal in Central I’ve been upgraded, to business class. That’s okay, too. A-okay. After all, I’m on business.

I’m not just on my way to Adelaide; there I’ll be connecting to Melbourne as one of a foursome: Thorold Keene, Rick Mattinson, Robin Robbins, and me - on business - for my football club, the football club that I’ve supported with a passion since I was seven, the year Fos Williams led them to the first of six premierships in a row. It wasn’t hard to passionately barrack for such a football club under those circumstances, you would say, and you’d not be wrong. As at this particular point in time I’ve made it to sixty-eight. Like me, my football club are no longer the same functional animal. They’ve stopped bringing home flags at season’s end at the same click. Why would that be?

Temporary setback for the Port Adelaide Football Club? It’s got to be, right? I mean we came third last year, missed the Grand Final by a kick. It was the kick Brad Ebert rushed, thought it wasn’t the moment to go back and take a set shot from fifty on his right boot, something he’s always been good at. It was the moment, Brad. But, not to worry, football fortunes travel in straight lines. In linear fashion. Prelim last year, Grand Final this year. Nothing surer. Don’t look at me like that. I’d be first to admit it if I’m talking bullshit, and if I am I’m no orphan. Ain’t that right, Chairman Moi. From what I hear, we’re in good hands. Your hands.

While I was on the train, which takes just over twenty quick minutes to get from Central out to Chek Lap Kok at the south end of Lantau Island, I sent Rick a text telling him that my upgrade to business class was a pretty good omen. Let’s see how right I am. Or how right I’m not. Or if I’m somewhere in between.


EPISODE 2

Business Class


Theme music:

‘Love’s Theme’ (Barry White & Love Unlimited Orchestra)



SCENE 8 - Sunday night, 22 February 2015.

Camera, as narrator is speaking, follows Lockhart Road onto his Cathay Pacific Airbus, into his business class seat for his overnight flight HK to Adelaide.

Notes for director:
Road has cause to be more delighted than the standard upgraded passenger. At least in business class he might be able to put together a few hours sleep, even though that sleep will hardly be of any quality. Airplane sleep never has been quality for him, especially over the last ten or fifteen years. Aging Vietnam War veteran that he is, the disabilities that DVA have accepted as caused or contributed to by his two years in the Army as a conscript between 1967 and 1969 are steadily bringing him down.


He is plagued by severe bilateral tinnitus. The only way for him to beat it is to concentrate hard, very hard, on something else to override the persistent dog whistle going off in his head. One or the other, either concentration or tinnitus, is hardly conducive to getting off to sleep, both together is a recipe for chronic insomnia and a premature demise. So he is dependant on Stilnox. The nightly dosage is now up to two by 10mg, less half a tablet if he is physically tired, but plus a half if stressed out. This overnight flight will demand three tablets, the last of the medication being taken with only a couple of hours left before arrival in Adelaide around dawn. The time difference doesn’t lend a hand either. This being February, the night will be two and a half hours shorter. Road will touch down in considerably less than optimum shape, whether or not he takes any medication. But that won’t detract from his performance the next day. He’ll be up for it, on auto-pilot, acting on instinct, always is when there is something to test him as soon as he gets off the plane.

Voice of Narrator:
Why are you being told this personal stuff? There’s a reason. Things are going to get tougher, you see. I feel the need to be honest about that, so that you’re not surprised let alone disappointed or critical when you see it happen. It’s not just the tinnitus that takes its toll on me, you see. DVA has additionally diagnosed PTSD et al for my sins committed in uniform. As a consequence I’m on a 90% war-caused disability pension, which provides me with beer money. The ‘et al’ is depressive disorder plus a condition that has been very scientifically labelled ‘alcohol dependancy’. These diagnoses invariably go hand in hand with PTSD for an ex-serviceman who thinks and drinks, drinks and thinks.


Two stubbies of beer per day followed by a glass and a half of wine add up to ‘alcohol dependency’. Anything more makes no difference. I’ve thought about trying one on with DVA. If I’m being compensated with a pension for alcohol dependency then I have to keep my drinking up to a level at least to retain it. Does that sound logical? In that case, why don’t I send DVA all my receipts from the Pro Drinkers Corner to prove to them that their diagnosis remains correct, and suggest they reimburse all of my outlay as two beers followed by a glass and a half of wine is me on the dry; alcohol dependency is, to boot, a minor component of the 90%. I’d need a rare sort of advocate to get that one taken seriously, do you think? But if you don’t ask, you don’t get. Except when you do ask and don’t get.

The crux of all this inside information is this: it’s a warning. It’s an alert. It’s a stay off the grass. I’m a danger, a bomb, a booby trap. I can be set off, I can go off, suddenly, preceded by little, even no, discernible aggravation. I can read something I don’t agree with, hear something I don’t agree with, feel something that doesn’t agree with me, and if it’s the wrong time of the month, or day, I can ignite. Taking my prescribed daily medication puts a neurological circuit-breaker into me, but alcohol can disable it. What sets me off, along with a lot of other things but most particularly, is disregard of advice from me that I know is spot on, especially when the disregarding is perpetrated by anyone who sought said advice in the first place.

So, sports fans, considering that, according to more than one highly skilled trick cyclist, I’m gone in the head far enough to qualify as TPI - totally and permanently incapacitated - if I should ever return full-time to the Land of Oz, what we have here could well be a Molotov cocktail minus the zippo.

This confession is relevant to what might take place later. There’s going to be an explosion somewhere down the track, sometime in the future ... most probably, and logically, towards the end of this story when I’m a few years farther down the hill. Then again, it could come earlier.

My fuse gets shortest, and I’m most vulnerable, when I’m tired. The solution is therefore ... don’t get tired. Yeah. Good thinking, Road.

Okay, for now ... here I am, stretched out in business class on CX, thumbing Stilnox out of a sealed pack and washing it down with the water that came with my second glass of red, flying south into the immediate future, flying south into tomorrow and whatever tomorrow may bring.

Houston, I’m on a mission. A few yards short of Right Stuff condition I may be ... but what you’ve got is what you get.


Notes:
Road’s eyes close. He’s concentrating, hard, ignoring the raging ringing test of his staying power called tinnitus.


He’s remembering Peter Chant ...

... Not the quiet little bloke himself so much, not this time. Road is remembering that Monday before ANZAC Day 2013, when he and a couple of ex-Army mates he took with him, all three of them from Charlie Company, 9RAR - the infamous WTFRW (which means ‘Where The F@#& Are We?’ or alternatively ‘We’re The FukaRWee’) tribe - Mick ‘Mumbles’ Mummery and John ‘John E.’ England alias ‘Mother Country’ as he looks after his mates like a mother hen - were invited to pay a visit to the Port Adelaide Football Club at Alberton.

It was the day Lockhart Road met Rick Mattinson who’d promised him a tour of the Club when they first exchanged emails in October 2012. It was the day that PAFC first heeded the account of the quiet little bloke who’d worn their jumper in 1961 and 1962, who five years later joined up, went to war, and lost his life - the last senior player for Port Adelaide Football Club to have made the supreme sacrifice on foreign soil wearing the uniform of his country.

It was the day on which conversation about Peter Chant got started. It was the day on which Pete’s overdue recognition, Pete’s long belated remembrance, got started, at last.

Voice of narrator:
Yes. Overdue. Long belated. But that’s not because of the Club’s oversight alone, that’s not just because the Club remained unaware for 44 years. It is also because people like me didn’t get their act together earlier, and hadn’t told them. I had a helluva lot to make up for, had a heap of ground to catch up, when it came to Peter Chant. And I still do.


But rectification began that Monday before ANZAC Day 2013. That’s when everything else began, too. That Monday kicked off everything that would follow. Call it consequential damage, if you like. Or consequential change.

‘China’ was kicked off that Monday ... by Peter Chant.

God bless that quiet little bloke.


SCENE 9 -
Background music:


‘Get a Little Dirt on your Hands’ (The Delltones)


Series of silent flashbacks to visually introduce Pete to the narrative.
  1. Scene of Monday, 22 April 2013, with Road, Mummery, England sitting at a table in Allan Scott Power HQ with PAFC media executive Andrew Rutter, pointing at the 1961 senior squad photo in which Pete, wearing Prison Bars, sits cross-legged by himself on the Alberton grass in front of a team of Port champions, minor premiers that year.
  2. Short black and white video clips of that PAFC team in action in 1961-1962, first on Alberton Oval, then on Kensington Oval vs. Norwood, the match in which Pete kicked two goals as second rover, witnessed by LR, at the time in second year at Norwood High.
  3. Scenes of Pete in the Army ... at Woodside during training for Vietnam in 1968 ... on a Huey in early February 1969, sitting among mates in jungle greens minus bush hats stuffed in pockets, each with full pack, gripping a loaded rifle, being choppered off Kapyong Pad in Charlie Coy. (WTFRW) lines at Nui Dat back into Operation Goodwood in the hairy Hat Dich region north-east of Saigon.
  4. Action scenes of diggers in action somewhere, sometime, in Vietnam, a hot landing with diggers sprinting out and away from the Hueys, spreading out, hitting the ground, firing into the tree lines.
  5. A battle zone as seen through a camera lens from the open side of a Huey as the chopper, now empty of troops, lifts and flies away, the battle scene growing more distant, fading away ... background music ends. Silence.
  6. Fade to black.


SCENE 10 -
Monday morning, early, 23 February 2015, Adelaide Airport ...


Notes:
Camera follows Road as he passes through immigration, collects a suitcase off the carousel, goes through customs, crosses to the carpark and deposits his suitcase in a locker. Camera follows him back into the terminal, through more procedures that end up with him sitting down with Rick Mattinson and Robin Robbins in the Virgin Blue lounge. Robbins has been in Adelaide for a few days on personal business, has been in Sydney on his fund management business, and in Melbourne will be doing more of the same.


Thorold Keene enters the lounge a few minutes later, does not see them, sits by himself three tables away, checking The Advertiser for something in particular, not finding it, looking preoccupied. Road studies Keene, gets the impression he has a lot on his mind.

MATTINSON: “Don’t interrupt him. He has a lot on his mind.”

Five minutes later, Keene notices them, comes over. Mattinson draws up a chair for him. Keene explains, a little, why he is going to Melbourne. It’s convenient, as he can join the other three for their lunch with Tom Doolittle of Ten-66 Funds Management. Actually, Mattinson arranged it that way.

KEENE: “We’re putting on a media roadshow at AFL House.”

Everybody nods. Nobody speaks as they wait for more. It doesn’t come. Keene goes quiet, too, looks even more preoccupied.

Notes:
PAFC has been receiving excellent national media for all sorts of reasons: on-field, off-field, China. It has helped land two Joint Major Partners, Renault and EnergyAustralia whose logos appear everywhere including on the team playing kit. In 2014 the club was the darling of the AFL competition, playing sharp and courageous football and after round 11 being clear on top of the ladder at 10-1. Then came an epic contest at the SCG where Buddy Franklin saved the Swans, just. Somehow Hinkley managed to coach his players out of top spot to out of the top four by the end of the minor round. PAFC’s football in their three finals was top shelf, form never to forget. However, as per the blunt critique made by The Great Man that night in the FCC, it wasn’t top shelf enough to win the flag when the flag was there to be won.


With the approach of the new season the expectations are high. Expectations are confident. Perhaps too high and too confident. Expectations are possibly amateurish, stoked by people at the top of the Club who possess an unhealthy lack of football nous and an unhealthier excess of personal agenda.

Keene indicates to Road the media roadshow in Melbourne wasn’t his idea. He makes it plain and somewhat apprehensively, perhaps afraid of tempting fate, that he considers such an overt display in front of the national media and the AFL to be overkill, overdoing what’s already been done well ... that it might be going over the top.

KEENE: “I think we might be going over the top.”

They board the plane. PAFC have booked the seats. Keene and Mattinson sit together up the front, heads angled towards each other. Road and Robbins sit together towards the back. PAFC is taking confidentiality very seriously. There is something intense going down.

Road hopes it’s not the plane that’s going down. He tries to steal thirty minutes of doze. It’s impossible. He’s too wound-up. His head is whistling at full volume. He’s jet-lagged, he’s tired, he’s wrung-out, but he’s more than ready to wing it through the day. Robin Robbins is the best sort of mate. He knows what’s what without asking a question, without uttering a sound. He feels it, whatever it is. He keeps blessedly quiet.

Port Adelaide Football Club has no idea how lucky, how privileged, they are to have a volunteer member like Robin Robbins taking care of the challenge, the test, the ticking time bomb, that is Lockhart Road.
 
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SCENE 11 -
Lunch table at an Italian restaurant, Melbourne CBD.


Notes:
Tom Doolittle is guest of honour at Mattinson’s invitation. Doolittle is a director of Williamstown Seagulls VFL club, who were Victorian logistics partner for Team China at the International Cup the previous August. His day job is as an international executive of Ten-66 Funds Management, a position Daryl Ander recruited him into. Ander was impressed by Doolittle’s stint with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade as Australian Consul-General in Guangzhou. During Doolittle’s posting in Guangzhou he created the second Chinese team in the South China AFL, the Guangdong Seagulls.


Mattinson considers Doolittle a potentially important cog in the China Strategy. Doolittle had been unable to make it to Adelaide Oval in August 2014 for the Team China reception, had passed his invitation to Ander (enabling, luckily, for Ander to meet Robbins). To make up for that, Mattinson has set up this lunch so that Thorold Keene and Doolittle can meet.

Robbins and Road have been invited by Mattinson to join in (though they regard Daryl Ander, Doolittle’s CEO, as priority target at Ten-66 Funds Management).

Keene is late. He is last to arrive at the restaurant by several minutes, held up by the media roadshow in AFL House, help up by the overkill, the OTT, held up by questions from Karl Krupp, held up by points made by Krupp, then by the same points made by Krupp, then by the Kaiser’s standing order that the Kaiser will have last word, after checking with the aide called Chick who is invariably just behind him, in his assigned position, holding his briefcase. If it was winter, Chick would invariably have the Kaiser’s Chairman Moi beige alpaca overcoat over his other arm.

Thorold Keene is now sadly convinced that Karl Krupp and Carlito Cacciatori are going over the top. He’s watched and taken part in, as directed by Krupp, the oversell to Caroline Wilson then Patrick Smith then Gerard Whately then Mark Robinson ... and of course Gillon McLachlan. And he’s not comfortable with it. Keene is not a big-noter. He’s uncomfortable working with big-noters, even more uncomfortable working for big-noters.

MATTINSON: “How did it go?”
‘Don’t ask’, says the look on Keene’s face as he takes the chair that Mattinson stands up from and vacates as a gesture of respect to Keene.
KEENE: “Not finished yet. A lot to get through.”


Notes:
Dialogue during the lunch is not spectacular. Road and Robbins exchange looks when Doolittle, based on his past experience as consul-general in Guangzhou, gives his opinion that Hong Kong’s freedoms will be curtailed and squashed one after the other by Beijing, that Hong Kong’s future is limited compared to Shanghai. Road and Robbins, based on a combined 75 years of experience living there, do not agree. Hong Kong’s freedoms will be fine, provided self-serving lobby groups in Hong Kong are not conceded the freedom to take their lobbying past any extreme into retaliatory territory. Road and Robbins do not, however, argue out loud with the guest of honour.


Road has spoken to Tom Doolittle from HK the day before, the Sunday he left, checking on the availability of Doolittle’s CEO, Daryl Ander. Ander would be in Sydney next day, Monday, Doolittle told him, returning to Melbourne on Monday evening. Road also keeps this to himself. The right thing to do, he decides, is for Rick Mattinson to feel that he is the one calling the shots.


SCENE 12 - Later that afternoon.

Mattinson, Robbins, Road in a cab heading for AFL House for meeting with AFL executives, the mid-range sort of AFL executives, three of them, to discuss the general subject of China, for which the AFL has no strategy. Meeting has been set up by Mattinson to extract extra value out of bringing Road and Robbins to Melbourne. Road and Robbins only have a vague idea what the meeting will be about, let alone its specific objectives.

Road, sitting next to the driver, is on his phone, his trusty Nokia C2-01 vintage 2011, fixing a breakfast meeting the next morning at which Ander might meet Keene and Road for the first time, Robbins for the third time. It is in fact Road’s priority objective in coming to Melbourne - to kick off for PAFC, though PAFC knew nowt about it, the China State Gas & Power Net strategy. Working like clockwork together, Clarissa and Pru, the executive assistants of Ander and Keene, sort it out.

The breakfast meeting is on, set for eight a.m. in the CBD.

ROAD: “Okay then. I’m staying here overnight. Robin, does there happen to be a spare bed in your cosy habitat in your cosy hotel on Toorak Rooad?”
ROBBINS: “Spare bed. Spare room. Lock on the door.”
ROAD: “To keep you out. Good.”
ROBBINS: “My room, the bigger one with the ensuite, has a lock, too.”
MATTINSON: “I can’t stay. Have to be back in Adelaide this evening.”


Voice of Narrator:
By now if you’re getting the impression the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing ... while the right hand knows exactly what it’s doing but not giving a lot of credit to the left hand ... you’re right.


ROAD (sings): “He rocks in the treetops all day long ... “
ROBBINS (sings): “Hoppin’ and a’boppin’ and a’singin’ his song.
ROAD: “All the little birds in Jaybird Street ... “
ROBBINS: “Love to hear the Robin goin’ tweet tweet tweet.”
ROAD: “Rockin’ Robin.”
ROBBINS: “Tweet tweet ... tweedly-deet.”
ROAD: “Rockin’ Robin.”
ROBBINS: “Tweet tweet ... tweedly-deet.”
ROAD & ROBBINS & THE CAB DRIVER (chorus): “GO Rockin’ Robin ‘coz we’re really gonna rock tonight.


The cab rocks its way through Monday afternoon traffic towards Docklands.

MATTINSON (wary eye on the driver): “Er ... I really have to be back in Adelaide this evening.”

Theme music:

‘Rockin’ Robin’ (Bobby Day)



SCENE 13 -
That night.


Dinner in another Italian restaurant, this one on Toorak Road walking distance from the small hotel in which Robbins and now Road are staying. Road had put his head down for an hour’s nap, unsuccessfully, while Robbins went out for a business appointment. They met up at the restaurant at seven.

ROAD: “This is on me. Contribution towards my free bed for the night.”
ROBBINS: “In that case we’ll have a bottle of wine. I feel like a red for a change. They have a chianti here that’s the most expensive on the list.”
ROAD: “Touche. A red might help me get some sleep.”
ROBBINS: “How do you feel?”
ROAD: “Pristine.”
ROBBINS: “You don’t look pristine. You look pissed-in.”
ROAD (listening to the orchestra of whistles in his head all hitting the same high pitch and staying there): “Stick to investment risk, Rockin’.”
ROBBINS: “I wouldn’t advise anyone to put money on you for tomorrow.”
ROAD: “I’ll sleep like a top tonight.”
ROBBINS: “Sounds like spin.”
ROAD: “Groan. Go rock in the treetops. Just don’t let that suntanned room boy back in to turn down my bed when I’m already in it.”
ROBBINS: “His name’s Mustafa. He obviously can’t resist you.”
ROAD: “I only have you to compete with.”
ROBBINS: “I’ve decided. I’ll have the fettucine.”
ROAD (too exhausted to pick up the menu): “So will I.”
ROBBINS: “You’d better get some sleep tonight. Big day tomorrow.”
ROAD: “I’d better get some sleep tonight. Big day tomorrow.”
WAITRESS: “You’d better get some sleep tonight.”
ROAD (nods): “Big day tomorrow.”
WAITRESS: “You look like Al Pacino in ‘Insomnia’.”
ROAD: “It’s an act.”
WAITRESS: “You should win an Oscar.”
ROBBINS: “He doesn’t need an Oscar, he’s got a Mustafa at the hotel.”
ROAD: “I’ve got Mustafa at the hotel.”
WAITRESS: “Two fettucine? Want to make it three? One for Mustafa?”
ROAD: “Mustafa ‘nother one.”
ROBBINS: “Don’t listen to him. Just two, please. One each.”
WAITRESS: “Cool. You guys are having fun. That’s great.”
ROBBINS: “I’m Robin. I was in ‘Insomnia’, too. He’s not Al. He’s Fred Astaire.”
WAITRESS: “I’m Ginger.”
She points to her name tag. She really is Ginger.


Belly laughs all round. Suddenly Road doesn’t feel so tired. Life is good.

But not good enough to put LR to sleep that night. He tosses, he turns, in the spare bed Robin has gifted him. He adds another half tablet of Stilnox ... .

Theme music:

‘Nights in White Satin’ (The Moody Blues)



Next: Episode 3 - BRUNETTI - February 2015
  • A very important day for the China Strategy gets off to a comical start.
  • Ander, Keene, Road and Robbins, heads together, talk China at Brunetti.
  • Road seizes point position, Ander makes the case for China State Net.
  • Thorold Keene proves his deep personal gratitude with just two words.
  • Road is confronted with cold coffee, even colder ‘Chicken’ Cacciatori.

—————————————
 
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