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

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Ishikawa

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For what it's worth, I found the latest instalments far more readable than those which I have previously criticised as self-indulgent and agree that it is a story worth telling with LR being absolutely entitled to tell it from his perspective.

Personally, I can see why the club would turn down this approach from their perspective and find the concept of criticising Koch, Thomas & our board members for being narcissistic, pig-headed and single minded when demonstrating those same qualities a bit rich. It's all perspective and while bloody-mindedness is unquestionably a trait of many successful people, the process of putting forth a compelling proposition usually demands putting yourself in others shoes and seeing the situation from their viewpoint.

I hope people see this as it is, one side of the story. We are the better for having been made aware of it, so appreciate that as well as LR's unquestionable enthusiasm for the PAFC.
 

Alberton Proud

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Agreed, last post was an easier read

Made me really think about the value of our 'community' approach

The time, effort and resources the club puts into a multitude of programs has provided broad returns far in advance of the initial investments

Tangible benefits to the disadvantaged, promotion of good health and lifestyle, respect to our fallen, social respect and inclusion etc. etc.

And the huge financial benefits initially from EA and then Mr Gui Guojie / Shanghai Cred and now Mr Gupta / GFG

KT and Koch have been wacked hard recently and often with justification but on this front they deserve our utmost respect

LR quite rightly notes “There is no mutual benefit without cooperation.”

There are many here that feel the scales have been tipped too far in this direction with corresponding detriment to our core business

I disagree, it strongly believe it underpins our successes and differentiates us from the rest

Community is Port Adelaide, it is woven into our fabric, it grounds us, drives us and sustains us
 

Janus

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I'm the type of person who looks at things from both perspectives and then tries to discover an amicable resolution that satisfies both parties.

I wonder if the club would consider creating it's own media arm that operates out of Hong Kong? A completely separate entity from the club, loosely affiliated with McGuane Media through a partnership type of arrangement, with McGuane handling the Australian side of things for businesses wanting to tell their story here (like China State Net) and PAFC Media handling the Chinese side for businesses wanting to tell their story in China (like Oak, for example).

If Adelaide can do it (albeit poorly), I'm sure we've got people who are affiliated with the club who are more than capable to do it. I say 'affiliated' because there's no way I'd let our in-house media team anywhere near such a project. It would basically be what LR suggested to Cacciatori but PAFC owned instead of McGuane owned.

If you want world-class, you have to think world-class.
 
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I'm the type of person who looks at things from both perspectives and then tries to discover an amicable resolution that satisfies both parties.

I wonder if the club would consider creating it's own media arm that operates out of Hong Kong? A completely separate entity from the club, loosely affiliated with McGuane Media through a partnership type of arrangement, with McGuane handling the Australian side of things for businesses wanting to tell their story here (like China State Net) and PAFC Media handling the Chinese side for businesses wanting to tell their story in China (like Oak, for example).

If Adelaide can do it (albeit poorly), I'm sure we've got people who are affiliated with the club who are more than capable to do it. I say 'affiliated' because there's no way I'd let our in-house media team anywhere near such a project. It would basically be what LR suggested to Cacciatori but PAFC owned instead of McGuane owned.

If you want world-class, you have to think world-class.
Binstrobe Media would want to do the job.
 
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Sanders

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You link to a page of you replying to comments and the page before that is mostly people admitting they have poor reading comprehension, what's your point?
Well... I linked to one of my posts, because I was, um... trying to highlight that post.

Thought it easier than copy n pasting.
 
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Thread starter #110
I have just edited this mid-1950s vintage photo into Prelude 2 on page 1. The Luk Kwok Hotel, Suzie Wong’s work site where the PAFC board gathered for a Chinese banquet the night after ratifying the China Strategy on Saturday, 17 May 2014, can be seen on the waterfront. At far right on the Wanchai wharf is a local supporter wearing Prison Bars. In the foreground is a motorised sampan, called a ‘wallah wallah’ and used to ferry seamen and passengers to and from ships in the harbour. That wallah wallah actually belonged to this wallah as can be seen from the ‘LR’ registration on the bow.

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dirty2

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You have me hooked lockhart!

This must be very hard for you to write about with the amount of time and passion you put into trying to get China up and going. Ty.
 

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Thread starter #112
You have me hooked lockhart!

This must be very hard for you to write about with the amount of time and passion you put into trying to get China up and going. Ty.
It’s not hard, mate. It’s inbred. Be called ‘negative and disloyal’ and see what you, yourself, would do in reaction. I have only just begun to fight, to stir shit. Until the Club is completely overturned none of us will be truly proud to call ourselves Port Adelaide People.
 

ploppy

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Ok I tried to read the episodes but had to skip through as they didn’t seem to be getting to the point..or I need to see the movie...can someone summarise in a couple of lines what is wrong with the China strategy or is it great..I’m going to China so it better be all good.
 

GremioPower

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Actually you can’t be juxtaposed ‘over’ only juxtaposed with. Don’t take that seriously, please. I appreciate your external view on proceedings. And I love your likes. Keep ‘em coming. Egotists love likes.
You were on my ignore list but now you’re at the top of my most learned if disadvantaged list.
I simply love your sense of humour, Lockhart Road.

I haven't read this series of yours yet, but I have put it on the top of my reading list. I will print it to read properly.
 
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GremioPower

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I'm the type of person who looks at things from both perspectives and then tries to discover an amicable resolution that satisfies both parties.

I wonder if the club would consider creating it's own media arm that operates out of Hong Kong? A completely separate entity from the club, loosely affiliated with McGuane Media through a partnership type of arrangement, with McGuane handling the Australian side of things for businesses wanting to tell their story here (like China State Net) and PAFC Media handling the Chinese side for businesses wanting to tell their story in China (like Oak, for example).

If Adelaide can do it (albeit poorly), I'm sure we've got people who are affiliated with the club who are more than capable to do it. I say 'affiliated' because there's no way I'd let our in-house media team anywhere near such a project. It would basically be what LR suggested to Cacciatori but PAFC owned instead of McGuane owned.

If you want world-class, you have to think world-class.
I have suggested once that the whole China enterprise should have been made by an independent company, something like the "Port Adelaide China Ltd." — perhaps co-owned by Mr. Gui, the Hong Kong club, and PAFC.
 
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I simply love your sense of humour, Lockhart Road.

I haven't read this series of yours yet, but I have put it on the top of my reading list. I will print it to read properly.
Thank you, mate. I realise that readers with an attention span and their impatience under control are in the minority, but it is for them that I have created this thread, yourself included. It’s my aim to put the entire story, from my perspective, in one place so that it’s there to be read not necessarily at once, perhaps later, even years later, like a book sitting on a bookshelf waiting to be picked up, opened and read, placed on the bedside table, opened again, read a little more ....

Everything I have written so far, and will write, is relevant to the China Strategy. Even Episode 4 which is a already a very long chapter coming up in a few weeks, in April, with a copy of the early 1969 Vietnam text, with photos, also to be posted in the Peter Chant thread. Episode 4 is about Pete and his WTFRW mates including me, and about the PAFC ANZAC Centenary gala staged in Hong Kong and what went on behind the scenes at the time. As he, the memory of him, was the catalyst for me and the Club getting together to start the strategy in 2013 then a full accounting of Pete’s ‘involvement’ is, for me, essential to the docudrama.

Edit: Saturday 16 March 2019.
I’ve changed my mind and have just posted Episode 4. This is because there would be too long a gap if I delayed until April. I will repost the first segment of the episode on the Peter Chant thread on the sixth anniversary of its opening in April 2013. I can now get on with subsequent episodes and put them up before the season gets too advanced.
 
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GremioPower

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Tibbs

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Thank you, mate. I realise that readers with an attention span and their impatience under control are in the minority, but it is for them that I have created this thread, yourself included. It’s my aim to put the entire story, from my perspective, in one place so that it’s there to be read not necessarily at once, perhaps later, even years later, like a book sitting on a bookshelf waiting to be picked up, opened and read, placed on the bedside table, opened again, read a little more ....

Everything I have written so far, and will write, is relevant to the China Strategy. Even Episode 4 which is a already a very long chapter coming up in a few weeks, in April, with a copy of the early 1969 Vietnam text, with photos, also to be posted in the Peter Chant thread. Episode 4 is about Pete and his WTFRW mates including me, and about the PAFC ANZAC Centenary gala staged in Hong Kong and what went on behind the scenes at the time. As he, the memory of him, was the catalyst for me and the Club getting together to start the strategy in 2013 then a full accounting of Pete’s ‘involvement’ is, for me, essential to the docudrama.
Sadly LR, we now live in the Twitter era, a generation that cannot comprehend anything not summed up in the 140 character Twitter limit!

Great reading! I must admit to initially being a bit perturbed by it, but now have swung full circle and see it as essential to be published.
 
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Thread starter #119
Sadly LR, we now live in the Twitter era, a generation that cannot comprehend anything not summed up in the 140 character Twitter limit!

Great reading! I must admit to initially being a bit perturbed by it, but now have swung full circle and see it as essential to be published.
Thank you for the vote of confidence. I’m into the swing of the story and putting it together, and it’s great to know that you are out there waiting to see what comes next. The truth is going to cut deeper in some places than others, but the objective is for the Club not to react to the truth like wimps (as they have done) but grow an extra layer of skin, an extra testicle, some extra grey matter, an up-to-date refractive error vision-wise, and set about solving the shortcomings that - after six years of doing my utmost to educate - I am obliged to put on the table at this, my exit meeting. Not to do this would mean that I’m the one who has been educated during those six years ... in how to be just another wimp.
 

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Thank you for the vote of confidence. I’m into the swing of the story and putting it together, and it’s great to know that you are out there waiting to see what comes next. The truth is going to cut deeper in some places than others, but the objective is for the Club not to react to the truth like wimps (as they have done) but grow an extra layer of skin, an extra testicle, some extra grey matter, an up-to-date refractive error vision-wise, and set about solving the shortcomings that - after six years of doing my utmost to educate - I am obliged to put on the table at this, my exit meeting. Not to do this would mean that I’m the one who has been educated during those six years ... in how to be just another wimp.
Well this has well and truly moved on from a criticism, to a critique of the club's handling of the China push. Something that the club should really be seeking from all parties involved.
 
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Thread starter #121
—————————————


UP THE CHINA RABBIT-HOLE - The TV Docudrama Series (Episode 4: ‘Tribal Instinct’).


Theme music: None. A minute’s silence.

On camera: Vietnam Veterans Commemorative Walk, Seymour, Victoria.

1552728664341.jpeg


Voice of Narrator:

Mateship. There’s nothing to compare with it. There is no mateship like that generated by the Army experience. There are no mates quite like those with whom you have survived the Army ... especially those who served with you in Vietnam; in my case: Charlie Coy., 9RAR ... alias the WTFRW tribe.

There is nothing as fundamental as not forgetting, nothing more important than remembering a mate - a member of your tribe - who didn’t make it home ... alive.

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EPISODE 4

Tribal Instinct


Theme music:

‘I Was Only 19’ (Redgum)



SCENE 18 - Flashback.
Late morning, mid-February 1969.
Phuoc Tuy Province, SE of Saigon, South Vietnam.


Setting:

Ap Suoi Nghe (say Ap Sewey Nay) alias Hamlet of the Fragrant Stream, set in the midst of an expanse of defoliated red clay. For the inhabitants, all of them ‘vetted’ and temporarily anti-Victor Charlie, resettled from razed-to-the-ground ancestral villages farther north, it’s a ‘paradise’, or so they’ve been told. If it is, it’s a raw red paradise, the colour of hell, the raw red result of Agent Orange.

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The hamlet is theoretically guarded by an ARVN outpost theoretically guarded by a dozen rows of wire sewn with jumping jack mines - a square sandbagged fort built around a red clay parade ground with a majestic white flagpole flying the red-striped South Vietnamese flag, a sandbagged crows’ nest atop every corner, a manned Browning M-2 .50-calibre heavy machine-gun, anti-aircraft gun actually, poking from every crows’ nest. An ARVN (Army of the Republic of Viet Nam, pronounced ‘Arven’) infantry company lives inside the outpost with their families, their pigs and their poultry, and a yappy small black terrier ... (I tell a lie - the dog was cooked, served and eaten, main course at the Tet feast to which the half-dozen diggers on a posting to the outpost’s Military Advisory Training Team were invited as guests of honour, with one digger, Terry Eichler, being fluent in Vietnamese) ... not to overlook the resident schoolteacher, Miss Hien, who looks scrumptious riding her 50cc motorbike in her black or white silk pajamas, nor the drunken master chef who natters away in non-stop French to Captain Lew Tizard and religiously puts away a bottle of Pernod every night.

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(Above): Morning flag-raising formalities on the parade ground complete with volleyball net inside the ARVN outpost at Ap Suoi Nghe. The Land Rover, here with Teasdale at the wheel, is the 9RAR Military Advisory Training Team’s only means of transport. The Hen House is out of picture to the right. Photograph was taken looking north-west towards Hat Dich.


Camera tightens on red clay single-lane approach road, drainage ditches and barbed wire in rolls on either side, focuses on a Land Rover minus canopy that is spitting red dust as it speeds under the wooden signage above the olive-drab cast-iron gate that’s been swung open. The gate is a hundred metres short of the ARVN outpost itself, with the road where it carries on into the fort guarded from three angles by more .50-calibre Brownings. Above and across the gate is Vietnamese signage bookended by a pair of wooden panels hand-painted with the insignia of the infantry units in residence. On the left, the green and yellow panel reads ‘Dai Doi 626’, on the right the dark-brown one reads ‘9RAR MAT’: 9 Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, Military Advisory Training (Team).

Inside the ‘Hen House’ on the south-eastern corner of the parade ground, two diggers wearing jungle greens, the lightweight more stylish and wearer-friendly American issue that Aussies could get away with wearing on a posting ‘outside the wire’, sit at a kitchen table. One has his combat boots, laced-up, anti-punji steel plate inside the sole, propped on the table top and crossed at the ankles. iOn the table is a Japanese transistor radio, a substantial black one, a Toshiba purchased at the PX, wrapped in plastic coated in red dust. It’s tuned to AFVN Radio Saigon, the domain of Adrian Cronauer as yet not immortalised by Robin Williams. Popular song is playing, not too loud, Marvin Gaye singing: ‘... heard it through the grapevine ... not much longer would you be mine...’

On the only solid wall, by that I mean backed full height by sandbags, are relief maps of Phuoc Tuy Province, the area around Nui Dat, between Saigon and Vung Tau. Next to the maps are a couple of pin-ups scotch-taped to a wooden cabinet. One is a black and white cream-yer-jeanser, selected and put up with TLC by the digger with more good taste than anyone on the team -

Voice of Narrator: Who? Need you ask?

... Diana Rigg in black miniskirt perched on the back of a sofa to emphasise her to-die-for legs that are stretched out like ... to-die-for legs. The pic of Mrs Peel is mounted above - as if she’s the kitchen goddess because in Vietnam, China also, every kitchen has a goddess, and so does every room - a bench laid out with two small kero stoves, half a dozen pannikins, assorted pots, a couple of frypans, one the latest non-stick Teflon-coated invention belonging to Captain Lew Tizard who gets a kick out of playing gourmet even in a hard to swallow shack like this ... .

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In the far corner by the wooden cabinet and Mrs. Peel and her legs is the radio desk. The battery-driven set is always on; any digger within hearing is able to monitor the airwaves to heed warnings from Black Horse, US regional military HQ at Xuyen Moc: their intel has a ‘main force enemy battalion moving through your area tonight. Sleep with your boots on. Sayonara.’ That night the diggers in the 9RAR MAT Team indeed slept with their boots on. Nothing happened.

Another night the radio came up with quite a different situation. Why is it being detailed here? To demonstrate that in Vietnam there was no front line, how the war was a 360-degree, 24/7 conflict in which nobody was safe at any time no matter where they were, similar no doubt to Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria or any war maintained by a world power not with the primitive intent of redrawing borders on the map but instead with the quasi-sophisticated intent of reprogramming people within those borders.

It’s also not a bad war story as war stories go.

Voice of Narrator:

Around 0230 hours it happened. I’m on radio watch, 0200 to 0400 hours, headphones on, tuned in to the assigned frequency for the night. A TAOR patrol is in ambush position somewhere to the east on the other side of Nui Dat and they’ve been sprung. TAOR = Tactical Area of Responsibility. Task Force send out a few such patrols each night, rifle section force - led by an NCO, two forward scouts each carrying a featherweight Armalite, alias an M-16, the gunner with his bulky M-60 and his number two carrying back-up bandoliers of 7.62mm ammunition, the remainder riflemen lugging weighty SLRs that pack substantial stopping power but are otherwise inappropriate for combat in the jungle. Their standard mission is to lay down an ambush along some track or other not too far out from the Nui Dat wire, no farther than a few klicks into scrub, into light jungle or the ghostly ex-plantations of sap-streaked rubber trees that are injun country in this part of the province called Phuoc Tuy. The routine is a page from the Australian-style offensive-defensive protocol the Yanks can’t be bothered with; this sort of hands-on counter-guerilla tactic learnt by the Aussie infantry in Malaya and Borneo is beneath American contempt.

It’s very unusual for a TAOR patrol ambush to be set off. Highly unusual. In my experience it is 99 times out of a hundred a walk in the long green, or in the short green, a wander through the rice paddies, a one night stand with the countryside. When I say ‘set off’ I mean a trip-wire tripped, connected trip flares flaring phosphorus white, sulphur yellow, creating eery shadows given emphasis by the flares that flick and fluctuate across the nightscape like evil spirits. I mean both Claymores blown, their hand-triggers double click-clacked, the mines having been angled to encompass the killing zone from ankle low up to short-arse black pajama man head high and blasting outwards in a concave percussion of spinning razor-edged flesh-slashing bone-smashing metal bits and pieces.

I mean every weapon selector on automatic, the M-60 rattling, rocking and rolling, going apeshit while every digger prays there’s no gas stoppage, the M-60 spitting fire at Victor Charlie via its flash suppressor, ejecting burning smoking spent shell casings out to its right as it scythes 7.62mm ordnance dead flat a maximum of two inches above the earth - short burst left then short burst front then short burst right, then mixing up the routine. I mean the muffled crump crump crump of hand-grenades chucked hard with head pulled in like a tortoise, thus blind to intervening branches; and the sharper wamp wamp wamp of shaped M-79 grenades, dispatched high into the sky and thus less of a peril to the good guys themselves, to impact and blow at the end of a virtually perpendicular parabola after being dispatched with a deceptive popgun sound, similar to the pop of a blown-up paper bag, from a short-barrelled lightweight launcher which in contrast to the burdensome SLR is a nifty little weapon in a jungle scrap.

Noise. Omnipresent noise. Omnipotent sound energy. Coming in like surf in a cyclone, from all directions at once, the source of sound seemingly closer than it actually is, scattering off the precision-planted rows of rubber trees. Echoing off bamboo thickets. Bouncing off the ground especially if wet.

Then there’s the incoming.

The AK-47 rounds cracking the air like whips just above the diggers’ heads, RPG-7 fire overshooting, whooshing louder louder then nothing if it’s a dud, exploding somewhere to the rear if not, the Victor Charlie rocket men failing to adjust their aim to compensate for the line of sight error inherent in night fighting. The diggers, trained not to fall into that instinctive trap, aim short and flat at the dancing flickering disorienting black white black yellow black audio-visual riot that would outdo any psychedelic stereophonic hypertonic disco madness. They waste nothing, use the ricochets to their advantage.

It’s a whirlpool of sound, a physical cacophany beating at the eardrums - in the midst of which that stressed-out patrol leader out there in the night on the far side of Australian Task Force Base, Nui Dat will not be able to hear himself think, let alone hear what the hell he’s bellowing into his handset.

Unusual? It is even more of an unusual sprung ambush when Victor Charlie decides to hang around, say damn the dark, and take up the fight. Diggers are trained when on the receiving end of an ambush to immediately wheel as one, without thinking, into the ambush, charge at the ambushers, charge through them, get out the other side, reform. Like hell. Diggers are human just like anyone else. Diggers hit the dirt, burrow like crazy, pull the ground over their heads as reflexively as anyone else, go for self-preservation just like anyone else. But by the sound of this particular contact Victor Charlie is behaving not like Victor Charlie but in a copybook enactment of digger contact drill instruction. This section-size TAOR patrol has been assaulted whilst immobilised in its fixed ambush position by a platoon-size or larger enemy contingent on a fast night march, five times their number and in a bloody fearsome frame of mind.

So what’s next? Massacre? Or miracle? No other option.

The TAOR patrol leader has opted for miracle. He summons up the cavalry from heaven, alias Spooky. Who or what is Spooky? Precisely the counter-guerilla tactic the Yanks lust after, that’s Spooky. The improvised way-out war machine the Yanks have multiple orgasms over ... that’s Spooky.

Destroy the jungle, every square inch of it, destroy everything inside it over a given area. Destroy it all completely utterly thoroughly absolutely. That’s how the Yanks sum up modern ground warfare in Vietnam.

In one word: Spooky.

Spooky - alias Puff the Magic Dragon, with its mini-guns and Gatling guns, its rockets, its gigantic blinding flares, its terrifying stupefying engine noise - is trying its best to communicate with the Australian patrol trapped below. The patrol leader has a basic press-to-speak field radio by which to issue instructions. I’m listening to it, totally useless, helplessly enthralled, rivetted to this comic opera warfare scenario coming out of the speaker in real time: 1) the Aussie patrol leader pinned down copping extremely serious shit, 2) the American airmen working Spooky’s levers and pedals and buttons, and of course Spooky’s radio - both parties trying to guide each other in a lingo both of them call English whilst beset by the avalanche of adrenaline that comes with a firefight, neither able to understand what the other is saying.

1552728843847.jpeg


“Spooky this is Alpha Tango say again all after this is. We are under heavy fire, three wounded one serious, can you lay down cover fire so we can get the glory be outta here. Over.”
“Rrrrrhhhh isss Spooky furrrah murrrkun rrownover.”
“Spooky this is Alpha Tango say again all after this is. I can’t farken read you over.”
“Rrrrrhhhh isss Spooky furrrah murrrkun rrownover.”
“Spooky this is farken Alpha farken Tango say again all after this is - “
“Rrrrrhhhh isss Spooky furrrah murrrkun rrownover.”
This has been going on for a while. The patrol commander is on the edge of taking out his frustration on Spooky and Spooky is on the edge of taking his out on the digger with the radio down below in the jungle and the darkness being sliced up by ground-level weapons fire.
A new voice comes up on the net. A pukka voice, an Alec Guinness voice, a Duntroon graduate got to be, station Nui Dat, calm as a cold-blooded serial killer, cool and confident, totally and almost laughably incongruous: “Alpha Tango this is Base Command. We are monitoring. Spooky wants you to fire a marking round. Over.”
“Rrrrrhhhh iss Snoopy .... yahhhhh sssrrrrarght ahhhover.”
“Base Command this is Alpha Tango, are you saying that Spooky wants us to fire a marking round, Over.”
“Rrrrrhhhh iss Spoo - “
“SHADDAP Spooky! Base Command, are you there, Over?”
“Base Command. You read correctly, Alpha Tango. Fire. A. Marking. Round. I say again: fire a marking round. Over.”
“Well farken why didn’t he farken say that in the first farken place!?”
The ‘marking round’ - red tracer - is fired, fired again, indicating to Spooky, circling above, engines roaring back and forth, the general location of the enemy’s main concealed position. Spooky comes around. Spooky roars in, lines up its blood ‘n’ guts take no prisoners wipe out every single martha farker run. Spooky dives, flies low, does the awesome damage that Spooky and only Spooky can do: two-hundred per cent biblical carnage. In seconds an escape route through the burning jungle is cleared. The diggers get the hell out of Hell.
Contact completed. Incident closed.
“Spooky this is Alpha Tango thanks a million mate. Next time speak farken English, okay?”
“Rrrrrhhhh isss Spooky yarrrrh werrrcum. Arrt.”
“Forget it Spooky. Out.”


Notes:
Up above the radio desk, the kitchen table, the furniture and the aluminium sea chest on the ground chokka with ice and cans of VB and Four-X ready for 1600 hours when the sun is adjudged to be over the yardarm, and drinking can start and the volleyball net goes up on the parade ground to herald the start of the evening’s entertainment, is a standard sloping hen-house corrugated iron roof. Around the three sides facing out, two into the parade ground, chicken-netting is tacked into position, each side sandbagged to just above waist height with corrugated iron sheeting on the outside as ‘waterproofing’. A gap in the main wall leads into the bunker proper, all walls sandbagged, to MAT Team sleeping quarters where eight bunks - four pairs double-decked, most vulnerable pair nearest the gap in the main wall kept spare for overnight visitors or for anyone we didn’t get along with - are hidden beneath olive-drab mosquito nets tucked under olive-drab-sheeted rubber mattresses.


At night the rats, slippery slimey grey ones the size of Moet magnums, scurry across the rafters and along the tops of the sandbag walls, until there comes the krakk of a broken back - meaning some voracious rodent has been clipped by one of the arsenal of set XXXL rat-traps and lies scratching bleeding oozing and squeaking its last, waking nobody up who is already asleep.

For who gives a rat’s arse about the noise made by a magnum-size rat so long as it’s farken dying? Who except Captain Lew Tizard, who so enjoyed the little black terrier at that Tet feast he is probably licking his lips, lying salivating on his back under his mosquito net as he visualises braised Vietnamese monster rat afloat in aniseed Pernod gravy on the menu tomorrow.

TIZARD (voice out of darkness): “How many is that, Private Road?”
ROAD: “One hundred and twenty-three, sir.”
TIZARD: “That’s a record body count for this week?”
ROAD: “Yes, sir.”


Thereby ends your tour of the Hen House Hilton.

1552729148998.jpeg

(Above): The Hen House Hilton, Ap Suoi Nghe, February 1969, your tour guide Pte. Lockhart Road in position outside the sandbag, corrugated iron, timber frame and wire netting structure. At far right, yes, that is a dressing gown you see. There is a shower cubicle just out of picture. The gown belongs to Captain Lew Tizard, who else. The black and white towel has to belong to Pte. Road.

Voice of narrator:

The Land Rover pulls up outside the hen house in a red dust cloud. It’s back from Nui Dat on the daily resupply run. Teasdale the driver comes through what passes for the front door. I can feel it before I look up, before I see it, before I hear it. There is a difference about Teasdale’s manner, something unusual on his face, something darkening his eye sockets as he tries to get his vision to adjust from the exterior brightness and squints at the two of us at the far end of the table.

“Peter Chant’s been killed.”

What you see here is a close-up of my face at that moment. I had been in-country for only three months. So had Pete.

For your information Pete’s death had no connection to the snafu ambush caught on the Hen House Hilton radio. No, Pete lost his life in the opposite direction, north-west towards Saigon in a death trap controlled most of the time by Victor Charlie doing what he and she do better than anyone else: digging and building camouflaged bunker networks that are impossible to detect, living inside them, eating their gritty rice as they lie in wait with an inexhaustible patience, having their amputations, wounds, sores, malaria and other ailments treated in subterranean hospitals, being reinforced via the Ho Chi Minh Trail by fellow patriots from the north ... in a chamber of horrors by the name of Hat Dich - not far at all, looking at the map, from Ap Suoi Nghe - during an ambush sprung inside a bunker complex the WTFRW had themselves been tricked into penetrating.

1552729491895.jpeg


(Above): Captain Lew Tizard’s farewell party in the Hen House Hilton in mid March 1969. He and Pte. Road, who took the photo with his nifty Instamatic, have been posted back to Nui Dat after ten weeks with the 9RAR MAT Team in Ap Suoi Nghe. That’s Lew’s face at the head of the table ... and sitting on top of Lucky Lew’s head perpetrating an erotic experience is Mrs. Peel.
On Lew’s left, darkish of mien, is the ARVN company commander.
Chopsticking rice out of the pan is Cpl. Andy Ochiltree, son of a general, and on his left is the ARVN 2-IC.
Then comes Sgt. Ed Rashleigh who, having been Road’s instructor at Puckapunyal, was his rude introduction to the Army on the longest day of his life; Ed has just renewed the acquaintanceship by showing up at Ap Suoi Nghe out of the blue, make that green, as in jungle, to join the MAT Team.
At far right is the ARVN company sergeant major (CSM); he looks different from the other Vietnamese because he isn’t one: he’s a Montagnard mountain man from Cambodia more far, who turns out to be a better fighter than a lover; he and the 2-IC have been in ardent competition for the heart of scrumptious Miss Hien, the resident black and white silk pajama school teacher (below).
The day after this photo was taken the CSM found out he was coming second, did what any jilted Montagnard would do according to strict Montagnard rules re saving face, stuck his Colt .45 revolver in his mouth and blew off his bottom jaw; an act that to anyone else might sound contradictory to saving face.
Road would watch him, swathed in bandages, bottom half of his head missing, exit via medevac sitting in the back of a truck, never to be seen again.
Road liked the CSM. He was a soldier. Not like his aristo play-acting superior officers, one of whom, one night when some shit was going down, Road told to put his farken cigarette out and stop presenting himself on the skyline inviting any Viet Cong skulking out there in the dark lining up an RPG to take him out ... Road and Cpl. Skull Koenig with him, which was of higher import, as Road was right next to 2-IC, below him actually, lying on top of the fort’s west wall behind the M-60 with Skull as his spotter and number two.
The back of head belongs to Jack Panossian, who’s just replaced Teasdale as driver of the MAT Team Land Rover. A good mate, Jack.


1552729316128.jpeg
 
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SCENE 19 - (Flash forward forty-six years.)

First week of March 2015.

It’s a week after the four-man breakfast meeting at Brunetti in the Melbourne CBD. That, you will recall, involved Thorold Keene, Daryl Ander, Robin Robbins and Lockhart Road, with the subject being China State Gas & Power Net, top ten Fortune 500 corporation, biggest power company in the world. The setting is the kitchen of a house in the pleasant suburb of Woodcroft south of Adelaide where Road is staying.

Notes:
The house belongs to Mick and Jen Mummery. Mick alias ‘Mumbles’ alias ‘Mr. Mumbles Sir’ was a platoon commander with the WTFRW in Vietnam. Mick and John England (also WTFRW), have been working together with LR on a project to bring PAFC and the various SA War Veterans institutions and causes closer together. Both Mick and John, previously Crows, have become Port members. Mick it was who, on catching sight of Bobby Quinn’s Military Medal face down on a glass shelf just inside the front door of the Port Club, tasked himself to have the medal professionally restored, and mounted in a framed memorial containing Bobby’s two Magarey Medals from 1938 and 1945, plus photos of and citations for both Bob and his brother George. Another framed memorial was simultaneously produced for Peter Chant. These were presented to PAFC by the Quinn and Chant families at a ceremony during the pre-match function in the McLachlan Room, Adelaide Oval for the ANZAC Round game versus the Cats in 2014. The Club had one of its great days. People left the Adelaide Oval lifted - lifted in spirit, lifted in pride, lifted clean off their feet by Port Adelaide Football Club.


Road, working at his Sony V10 on the Mummery kitchen table, gets mail. It is a copy of a message from Daryl Ander to Dirk Struan IV, the chairman of EGSA - Electricity Grid of SA, 46.5 per cent owned by China State Gas & Power Net. Ander, good as his word, has introduced Keene, Robbins and Road, and thus PAFC, to the man who chairs the board on which sit three directors, PRC nationals, from China State Net.

Road takes up point position on the resultant chain of correspondence, gets the reply from Dirk Struan IV that he is looking for. Yes, Struan will be delighted to set up an introduction, if possible during the visit to Sydney and Melbourne of Mr. Xiao Junxi, senior China State Net director on the EGSA board, in May.

ROAD (to himself): “Superb.”
MUMBLES (overhearing as he taps at his home computer behind a screen): “What’s superb?”
ROAD: “I could tell you but then I’d have to exterminate you.”


Satisfied, feeling that something important, something special, something that has responded to his personal touch, has been accomplished, Road gets back to what he had been doing all day - working with PAFC’s event management team on the format and priorities for the ANZAC Centenary Luncheon booked for the Sports Hall of the Hong Kong Football Club on Thursday, 30 April 2015.

Ben Roberts-Smith VC MG will be with Karl Krupp for Channel 7 at Gallipoli for the Centenary Dawn Service on 25 April. Thanks to Mumbles setting up a chain of introductions, Roberts-Smith’s executive assistant has been in contact with Road. A Fremantle supporter, the seven-foot war hero has asked for an appearance fee of five figures beginning with a ‘2’ plus premium airfares and deluxe hotel in Hong Kong for three nights if he is to rearrange his flight schedule from Gallipoli to be keynote speaker at the PAFC gala function, which 500 are expected to attend.

ROAD (to himself): “He’s well worth all that. But no way.”
MUMBLES (still behind screen): “What about John Schumann?”
ROAD: “Can you swing it, you think?”
MUMBLES: “We didn’t make him an associate WTFRW member for nothing.”
ROAD: “Job for John E.?”
MUMBLES: “Job for John E.”
ROAD: “What does Schuey think of Karl Krupp?”
MUMBLES: “Not sure, mate. But Schuey will be keen to get up to Hong Kong to honour Pete and take a break after his country-wide ANZAC performances.”


John Schumann was indeed keen - keen as mustard. All he asked of PAFC was one quarter of Roberts-Smith’s fee plus expenses, and his bags were packed.


SCENE 20 -
Hong Kong, March / April 2015


Notes:
As narrator explains what’s happening (below), screen shows Road working out of his apartment in Happy Valley ... the Hong Kong Football Club going about its frenetic daily routine, akin to organised chaos inside a cruise ship at sea ... Road on foot, taking his short-cut through narrow lanes that lead to Wanchai Road, then Johnston, then Hennessy, and finally the real Lockhart Road, brief case in hand, heading for another meeting with the local event manager ... Wanchai’s streets in action during a business day ... Road sitting with a stubbie in the Pro Drinkers Corner talking PAFC with Robbins ... Wanchai’s streets in action during a business night ... LR coming in the door of his apartment, dinner gone cold on the table, Mrs Road in interrogation mode: “Have they paid you yet?”


Voice of Narrator:

Not content with commentating for Channel 7 and for all of Australia at the ANZAC Centenary Dawn Service on those cliffs above the Dardanelles, in an atmosphere heady with bygone drama and shared with the spirits of all who perished there, Karl Krupp had decided to break his long trip home to Sydney with a stopover in Hong Kong.

Rick Mattinson had sent word to me some time in January that Krupp had called for another ‘business luncheon’ to be staged at the HKFC whilst he was in town. I seized on it. It wouldn’t be, I determined on the spot, a same old PAFC business lunch, this was going to be The PAFC ANZAC Centenary Luncheon. It would be an Event. A once in a century affair. It wasn’t going to be staged in the HKFC restaurant and managed by AustCham this time. It was going to be held in the capacious, cavernous Sports Hall where 500 guests could be accommodated and catered for by the HKFC’s banqueting operation which handles challenging functions like this, and does it so well, several times per annum - with the piece de resistance being the rollicking New Year’s Eve Gala for which the HKFC has become the place to be when the clocks strike midnight for the last time each year.

Because of its dimensions the PAFC ANZAC Centenary Luncheon was going to need a local event manager on site to support from a distance the PAFC events team. I knew who would be able and keen to take the project on, a company with years of experience promoting and managing events at the HKFC including its annual two-day International Rugby Tens tournament that since 1986 has immediately preceded the International Rugby Sevens on the last weekend in March or first in April. Rick Mattinson agreed with me, and I set up the connection. Things would not go entirely to plan - neither PAFC’s plan nor mine. Imperfections were hidden in the path ahead, like jumping jack mines.

In hindsight, I accept that half the blame for the imperfections lies with me. I had, without realising it or the consequences, a personal agenda. For me the gala event was to be a commemoration for Peter Chant, staged on my home turf, as much as it would the ANZAC Centenary, a universal patriotic acknowledgement of all who have served, in particular those who will grow not old. PAFC, having asked the question, got caught between a rock and a hard place, between Krupp’s agenda and mine. I see that now.

Don’t get me wrong. The event was concurrently going to be - for PAFC - a remarkable success, an experience the local expats, regardless which AFL club they supported if any, would talk about for years. That was everyone’s intention. My intention, too. If not, the event wouldn’t have taken place.

But PAFC could not, or would not, admit they didn’t have, or wouldn’t come up with, the budget required to elevate the gala event into the class of gala Karl Krupp had in mind. The budget set was too tight. It put the Club, and the event, in shackles from the opening bell. When it came to culprits, however, the budget was no orphan.

I had a feel for the amount of work that would be involved. But, as it turned out, while I anticipated a budget squeeze, I didn’t make allowance for the width of the gap, and I don’t mean physical distance, between Hong Kong and Alberton. I didn’t properly take into account, nor did I anticipate, the cultural difference between Hong Kong and Alberton that would manifest itself during preparation for the event. The incomparability between getting things done in Hong Kong and ‘getting things done’ at Alberton caught me napping.

ROAD (at home in Happy Valley, Hong Kong, on his Nokia C2-01): “So we still don’t know if the Kiwi Consul-General can make it?”
LOCAL EVENT MANAGER: “That’s not quite it. We still don’t know who is going to officially ask him. I know him personally, but it’s DFAT’s task.”
(DFAT, pronounced Dee-Fat, is the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.)
ROAD: “So ask DFAT. You and I both know Gavin.”
LOCAL EVENT MANAGER: “We’re still waiting on the go-ahead from Alberton to do that. There’s somebody who wants to get involved in anything to do with DFAT. Somebody new, just arrived. Things are held up, waiting for him.”
ROAD: “Just arrived?”
EVENT MANAGER: “Like, two weeks ago.”
ROAD: “I’ll make enquiries. Proceed as if the Consul-General will be there. We can’t put on an ANZAC Centenary without the NZ side of it being properly represented.”


Voice of Narrator continues:
You see, cultural differences start at the start - with decision making. Hong Kong’s culture is for decisions to be made and implemented simultaneously or nothing will start. Decisions are made to be made, in Hong Kong, so that the next decision can be moved on to and made. In Alberton the decision is something meant to be delayed until it gets entangled with other decisions waiting to be made so it doesn’t feel lonely, until finally there’s no time left not to make it.


I kid you not, a full two months were fudged away after the initial go was given. Sixty days were wasted, during which no firm commitments could be passed on in Hong Kong, including to sponsors whom we wanted to target. There could be no commitment to the market via promoting the event ... no booking software switched on to get attendee numbers off zero.

Sixty days lost, while the local event manager did her stuff for other clients while she had her quoted fee negotiated down 50 per cent and then waited for a signed letter of appointment, which was only sent when I morphed into Red Adair and threatened to walk. Even then her fee was considered to be extortionate compared to the ‘market rate’ according to Alberton. By this time she had to be in a right quandary, wondering why PAFC had decided to stage a gala event in Hong Kong at all, if they thought that demanding ‘Alberton market rates’ was the key to success on the international stage. I know I was.

Yes. International dreaming, postcode 5015 decision-making. Like walking to the ball wearing board shorts and thongs. Hong Kong is a sophisticated city. All it takes to wake up to that is one glance at a photo of the place.

All my fault. I admit it. I started it. I volunteered. Muggins me.

Mea bloody culpa.

However, once ventured into, there was no turning back, no pulling out. Like China itself, actually. Once you’re in you’re too far in to get out.

The learning process was in full swing at both ends. I had come to suspect there was no ‘key to success’ in postcode 5015, as there was only a fuzzy yardstick for success itself. There was, however, a crystal clear yardstick for not losing money. It’s the sort of yardstick that gets trampled underfoot and forgotten in the eleventh-hour panic when it is realised that the money not being lost has been dwarfed by the money being lost.

Option 1, the Alberton option: Sixty days gone, an operating fee essential to the event devalued by half, confusion and demotivation generated amongst those up at the sharp end; as against Option 2, the Hong Kong option: Sixty days and a full operating fee essential to the event 100% invested in highly motivated, clear-minded, trusting personnel seeking the making of a profit rather than sitting on hands hoping for one ... seeking out and generating revenue sources that would’ve at worst covered the investment. Only one out of this choice of options was a winner. So why did the loser option come first?

The answer: cultural unawareness.

I was by now more frustrated than frustrated. I was doing my best to teach. I was trying to educate. But my student was not only on the far side of the globe, it had not turned up for the first day of school. Or since.

Impatience grew rife. I grew more and more impatient, and I let it show. In Alberton, they grew more and more impatient with my impatience.

I had been in Hong Kong for too long. I was conditioned to positivity. To me, imperfections do not include obstacles. I was conditioned to the conviction that obstacles are part of the landscape, part of the script, there merely to stimulate the grey matter, to tune up the cardio-vascular system care-of the calisthenics involved in leaping over them in a single bound.

At a critical stage of the project the English lady who part-owned and ran the event management company, virtually single-handed, was diagnosed with galloping pneumonia. Stress-induced. Now this was an imperfection and an obstacle both. There was no getting around it or its consequences.

She had developed a data-base on which were registered 5,000 members of the local and international media, and growing. Hers was the operation that I had envisaged entering into discussions with Mick McGuane Media to establish a joint-venture targetting the China market for the benefit of the Port Adelaide Football Club, amongst others ... up until the moment Carlito ‘Chicken’ Cacciatori, sight unseen, word unheard, pulled his feeble act in Melbourne and put a crack through the vision. My daughter who, as I have mentioned in Episode 3, has a diploma in event management, worked part-time for this lady event manager during the HKFC Rugby Tens tournament at the end of March 2015. On the occasion when I had my coffee go cold waiting hours for the Chicken in Brunetti the month before that, I had all the essential pieces fitted together. I had The Plan. I had the market, I had the people, I had the product and I had the timing. Of course it was not going to fly. No plan like that is ever going to come off with a weak link, a liability, a fifth columnist like the Chicken listed among the dramatis personae.

No plan as pro-active, as progressive, as propulsive, as that is ever going to come off with, Rockin’ Robbins keeps reminding me, a galloping conflict of interest like the Chicken in the mix.

Impatience. Frustration. Aggravation. Fury. I upped my medication, doubled it. That helped, for a few hours per day. But then Red Adair would pop up again, looking for an oil rig on fire that he could put a cap on or, if there wasn’t a blazing oil rig handy, looking to start a fire to keep his hand in.

By the weekend before the ANZAC Centenary Luncheon, I’d been ordered by Alberton to keep clear of the event process, to give the event manager in Hong Kong and the PAFC events team room to work unhindered as they put together the event proper, drew up the run sheet. All redheaded oil rig superheroes off the stage pronto, tap-dancers only from now on.

Okay. I’d been told to let go ... so that’s what I did. I let it go. My meds went back to their prescribed level, I did life expectancy a big favour by stepping back, blending in with the audience, keeping my mouth shut.

The ANZAC Centenary Luncheon in the Sports Hall at the HKFC would be the first, experimental, full-scale international PAFC gala event to be put on using a local event manager. It would also be the last ... in Hong Kong.

However, there’s a silver lining. The experience for PAFC would prove to be invaluable - I say again: invaluable - as the Club was to later discover when their focus switched up the China Coast, farther north to Shanghai and the sequence of gala events this switch would entail - gala events, every one of them with a Shanghai event manager, each with their own arcane agenda.

By then, by the time it was Shanghai not Hong Kong or me driving the Port Adelaide tour bus, the China Strategy would be into a new phase. The era of budgetting for disaster would be done, overthrown by a determined 180-degree era of overspend your arse off.
 
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Thread starter #123
SCENE 21 -
Wednesday night, 29 April 2015 in Happy Valley, Hong Kong,


Notes:
It’s a four-day working week. The PAFC ANZAC Centenary Luncheon will take care of the Thursday, with the Friday being May Day, a public holiday in the ex-British crown colony since Beijing resumed its interrupted sovereignty on 1 July 1997. 1 May and 1 July are two out of three new holidays that came in when the PLA drove across the border from Guangdong that night with the rain rain rain that refused to stop until the British had been washed away, back whence they came. The third gain in public holidays for HK is 1 October, national day of the People’s Republic of China. The only holiday taken away, in name only, was the Queen’s birthday. It is now known as Buddha’s Birthday.


29 April is John England’s birthday. His 69-er. This is no public holiday in Hong Kong. In fact, if the word got out that England was back in the ex-colony of the British imperialists there would be a holiday in hell for everyone responsible.

Setting:
A private box at Happy Valley Race Course organised for PAFC and the club’s guests by Hong Kong Football Club under the reciprocal partnership, paid for at discounted rates by PAFC.


Party going on, celebrating among other things John England’s 69th. Guests from the Adelaide football world are Thorold Keene, Rick Mattinson, Graham Cornes, Bruce Abernethy ... No PAFC Board member. No director of the Club has flown up for the once in one hundred years PAFC ANZAC Centenary.

Attention focus is John Schumann with his guitar, having just written the lyrics for the birthday gift to John E. from his fellow WTFRW members who’ve flown up to join LR. It’s a song called ‘Sixty-nine Queen’ (alias A Dash to the Canteen), sung to the tune of Schuey’s signature Vietnam War anthem ‘I Was Only 19’ (A Walk In the Long Green).

And I can still see John E., drinkin' Bundies in the Grand Hotel
On a thirty-six hour rec. leave in Vung Tau.
And I can still hear John E., lyin’ screamin’ on the tiles
'Til the provosts came to kick him and kill the bloody row.
And their report was minus all the crud and blood and spleen.
And the stories John E. told them all sounded none too clean.
He’d caught some pieces in the bar on whom he weren’t too keen.
God help him,
He was a sixty-nine queen.


And can you tell me, John E., why you still can't take a trick?
Why the Channel Seven weather girl only makes you sick?
And what's that rash that’s come to stay,
But you don’t know what it means?
God help you ...
You’re a sixty-nine queen.


Everybody, once the guffaws and banter subsides and the glasses are refilled, wants to have a word with Thorold Keene. Starting with:
ROBBINS: “Thorold, I hope your nephew wasn’t too upset with what I told him.”
KEENE: “Of course not. I asked you to look over his business plan, and thank you for doing that. Thank you, too, for being honest.”
ROBBINS: “Well, if he makes the adjustments I suggested, I’d be glad to look at it again for you.”
KEENE: “He seems to have dropped the idea.”
ROBBINS: “Okay. Change of subject. Has your meeting in Melbourne with China State Net been confirmed by them?”
KEENE: “It has. Can we meet on Friday at noon to talk tactics? You and LR?”
ROBBINS: “No problem.”


Then:
GRAHAM CORNES: “Many thanks for this, Thorold. Great idea. Appreciate the invite very much. Sorry I can’t stay up here longer.”
KEENE: “We’re glad you could make it, even for only twenty-four hours. Having you here scores a goal at both ends of the field - footy and war veterans.”
CORNES: “Only too happy to do my thing on both fronts.”
KEENE: “Enjoy tomorrow. It’s going to be a great show.”


And then:
Mrs. ROAD: “When are you going to reward my husband?”
KEENE: “Er, sorry?”
Mrs. ROAD: “My husband ... “
KEENE: “He’s doing a terrific job for us.”
Mrs. ROAD: “Of course he is. He always does. He does it for other people. Are you going to reward him for it?”
KEENE: “Er ... pay him?“
Mrs. ROAD: “He does it all the time ... makes success for other people before himself. Never thinks about himself. He never thinks about his family. He thinks about Port Adelaide too much for his own good, his health ... and his family’s.”
KEENE: “I’ll ... er ... talk about it internally ... as soon as I possibly can.”


Finally:
LOCKHART ROAD: “You look a bit shaken. Eat something that was off?”
KEENE: “No, no. Just part of being the CEO.”
ROAD: “Does the CEO think we’ll be three and two?”
KEENE: “We’ll have no trouble with the Crows, I think. But it’s the game after I’m concerned about. We’ve put a heap of pressure on ourselves to perform well in these first five rounds. I’m worried we’ll go into West Coast flat.”
ROAD: “I hope not. Oh ... Robin told me about China State Net. Friday noon?”
KEENE: “Is that convenient for you?”
ROAD: “May Day. Workers’ day. Okay as things stand. But there’s celebrating to be done by a few of us ex-servicemen between now and then.”
Keene, who to the detriment of his Port Adelaide physique does not swear, drink alcohol nor eat a T-bone medium-rare nor any other way, laughs uncertainly.



SCENE 22 -
Intro Ugo Alsthom, the brand new executive presence at Alberton.


Notes:
Ugo Alsthom on balcony outside the Race Course box, standing alone, looking in all directions - the crowd below the grandstand, the three-piece band and its lead singer, a Filipina with a voice husky, arousing and soothing, buzz and balm combined: ‘Our day will come ... and we’ll have everything ... We’ll share the joy ... falling in love can bring ... ‘ - the thoroughbreds competing in the next race being led by their mafoos around the saddling paddock, jockeys swinging a leg over the saddle, Wednesday racing-night race-course vista to the east ... to the north-east, the Football Club, Times Square and Causeway Bay behind it ... to the south-east, a drawn-out mountain silhouette is chopped in half by Wong Nai Chung Gap through which cuts the road to Deep Water Bay, Repulse Bay, Stanley, Big Wave Bay ... and to the south, the volcanic silhouette that is a section of the Rim of Fire looms closer, rising from the other side of Wong Nai Chung Road where it becomes Morrison Hill Road and completes the scimitar-routed carriageway with its tramtrack that circuits the Race Course.


Alsthom is being unobtrusive, so ‘off somewhere’ that LR would catch himself looking around, wondering if the new PAFC exec was still in the room with them, at times to discover he wasn’t. Later, a few months later, Alsthom would explain his reclusive behaviour on this, his first visit to Hong Kong since headhunted in March by Thorold Keene to, among other responsibilities, ‘run things’ in Hong Kong and China, was induced by an overpowering nostalgia. As a boy, ten or twelve at the time, he’d spent a week in the then British crown colony with his father, staying in the Peninsula Hotel. A P&O liner had brought them, another would take them away on the next leg of their cruise. It was an indelible seven days in wonderland that, he was to reveal, he realised he’d never forgotten.

Alsthom has said little ever since arriving with Mattinson earlier in the week. He portrays well the silent type, tall dark and handsome in vintage vernacular, with eyes which, interestingly, contain a hint of the Orient. Genealogy on his father’s side is French and Italian. In his twenties he spent eight years working his way around Europe and learning languages in transit by playing a pro team sport in France then Italy. Lacrosse, it was. Maybe basketball. Or volleyball.

That voice ... that husky voice from down below ... buzz and balm: ‘ ... Our day will come ... If we just wait a while ... No tears for us ... Think love and wear a smile ... ‘

He returned to Australia, studied in Canberra, immersed himself in politics and wrote under his own byline for Fairfax, for the Canberra Times. His leaning has always been towards Labor. He is a champion of the ‘under’ demographic: the underdog, the underpaid and the under-privileged. Jay Weatherill brought Ugo home to Adelaide to be his speechwriter and his ‘international advisor’. Thorold Keene kept a watch on Ugo for PAFC’s main China role for a year, starting from the moment the board ratified the China Strategy on Saturday, 17 May 2014, at a meeting chaired by Karl Krupp in a room on the 1st floor of the HKFC. It was a meeting room with a view of the Race Course, looking south and south-west at the row of grandstands, at the very balcony where, one Wednesday race-night a year less eighteen days later, Ugo Alsthom would stand, in reflective solitude, a population of one in his own world.

ROAD: “You’re okay out here, Ugo ... ?
ALSTHOM (looking around, startled): “Yes. I’m fine.”
ROAD: “Plenty of chow inside. Don’t stay hungry.”
ALSTHOM: “Chow?”
ROAD: “Food. Plenty to drink, too.”
ALSTHOM: “I’m fine. Thanks. That’s an Amy Winehouse song isn’t it?”
ROAD: “She did a cover. The original was recorded by Ruby and the Romantics back in the sixties. Early sixties, I’d say.”
ALSTHOM: “Oh.”
Alsthom keeps looking out from the private balcony. Road eventually leaves. He watches Alsthom from inside, to see if he turns around. He gives up again and rejoins the party. Suddenly Ugo Alsthom is there.
ALSTHOM: “Peter Chant ... “
ROAD: “Yes?”
ALSTHOM: “He’s going to be at our event tomorrow?”
ROAD: “Sort of.”
ALSTHOM: “Oh. Good.”
Alsthom walks away, thoughtful. He goes back outside, on to the balcony, back to his world, population one.



Theme music:

‘Our Day Will Come’ (Ruby and the Romantics)



Voice of Narrator:

Let me tell you a bit more about Ugo. It’s important for you to know, as he becomes a key player in this drama, despite getting off to a jerky start. I have got to know him a little better over the just under four years we have co-operated, or tried to co-operate, on China for PAFC. In the beginning, though, the chasm between us was as deep as it was wide. After a while I decided a rope bridge, metaphorically, had to be thrown across the gap. It served its purpose for a period in which Ugo had his responsibilities honed into shape by Thorold Keene, who was astute and persistent, yes, but had in truth no other choice. Thorold pigeon-holed Ugo into a role that suited him. Ugo became a different person. I once heard Karl Krupp, later in 2015, categorise Ugo Alsthom as ‘different’. The Kaiser was referring to the Ugo he’d met at the start, months before, not the Ugo that Ugo became. To me, after Keene had reinvented the title for Ugo’s business card three times, as he went through a process of whittling down Ugo’s responsibilities to take advantage of his strengths rather than have his failings continually exposed, Ugo Alsthom was differently different.

Ugo came on board as General Manager, Power Community Ltd. From there his scope narrowed. He went from shotgun to sniper. He soon had nothing to do with Indigenous programmes, thus more time to do more with China. For a time he was known as GM, China and Government Relations, at which he proved adept, earned his crust, ‘government relations’ being a nifty weapon in his arsenal at exactly the right time. He is no commercial operator, though he is trying to learn. He is not a commercial salesman’s shadow, though he is gradually gaining substance and self-confidence. He has more than once admitted to me that he’s not ‘commercial’ which is an honest self-assessment. However it just means that he’s uncomfortable, like most people are, with putting out a hand and asking for payment. He doesn’t know how to close, likely never will, and any CEO who keeps him in the firing line under pressure of meeting revenue targets will end up losing not merely time, opportunity and income, but Ugo as well.

I’ve heard others, those who’ve tried to work with him, describe him as ‘not a people person’. That is not wrong. That is why Ugo was an inappropriate choice as GM, Power Community Ltd. Ugo, instead, is a ‘cause person’. Give Ugo a cause he identifies with, and he’s the best there is.

But that’s why Ugo Alsthom and I, subsequent to Wednesday race-night, 29 April 2015, entered into a trial by trauma, an operating relationship that was never going to be bruise-free. Ugo would never be able to understand why he was earning the bruises, and I couldn’t work out why he couldn’t.


SCENE 23 -
Next day, Thursday, 30 April 2015, HKFC Sports Hall.


Setting:
Road’s request to the local event manager was for flags, flags, flags. Technical restrictions caused by the width of the Sports Hall prevented hanging of flags from cords above the tables running from one side of the hall to the other. So the flags went on the walls, and on the stage, and anywhere else a flag would hang. The aim was to generate an atmosphere akin to a town hall on Armistice Day. It wouldn’t quite work out that way, but the event manager’s design layout, helped by the HKFC staff and management and her familiarity with them and how things were run at the club, was nevertheless brilliant.


Notes:
The day has started with a short-format, seven-a-side curtain-raiser played between two Chinese sides on the HKFC main pitch. Team China versus Pearl River Power, with ‘renewable energy’ in Chinese on their black, white, teal and silver kit as HK Government regulations prohibit their sponsor, CLP, from doing any form of advertising. The Government is examining deregulation of the local power supply industry and is wary of being accused by anyone at all of playing favourites. If that sounds balmy to you, welcome to our gang.


After the curtain-raiser attention moves upstairs to the first floor. Robin Robbins is hosting his own table of ten in the Sports Hall. LR is hosting what he has had registered as the ‘WTFRW Table’. The Chinese footballers, all playing in South China AFL which PAFC is sponsoring, have their own table near the stage. Ugo Alsthom is in the hall ... somewhere. Considering he has been recruited to ‘run’ China, he should be sitting with the Chinese footballers, half of whom have just played a match wearing specially-made Power tops. But he isn’t. He’s sitting at another table, or standing ... somewhere. Either that or Ugo has left the hall.

No, he hasn’t. I’m being unkind. I see him sitting at the same table as the DFAT guests and the Kiwi consul-general, chatting to nobody.

“Good day, everyone. Welcome. I’m Karl Krupp and I have been to Gallipoli ....”

On stage, the Kaiser launches into a Kaiser-like monologue. Road’s table is in the middle of the Sports Hall. His own guests include three fellow WTFRW tribe members: Mumbles, John E. and Eric Edmonds from Perth, plus David Shales, a consultant to Australian International School who saw out two tours of duty in Vietnam as a regular soldier with Signals. They are all wearing their campaign medals. All save Shales have on their black, yellow and red WTFRW ties which feature in profile an American Indian brave with two feathers, one bent, in his headband. He is a member of the tribe known as the FukaRWee, this brave, as is each member of the WTFRW tribe, so to speak, at LR’s table. The WTFRW tribe is adept at getting lost. Members of the tribe are past masters, absolute marvels they are, at getting lost. That’s how their WTFRW moniker originated.

“Where the f@#& are we?”

On a pre-Vietnam exercise at Cultana in May 1968, the 100-plus complement of C Coy., 9RAR got themselves inimitably lost. Army legend has it that search choppers were going north south east west all at once, aboriginal trackers were tracing bootprints in the dust, picking up C-ration cigarette butts, sniffing them, slipping them behind one ear, tracker dogs were snuffling, digging inside every boulder cluster and in every dry creek bed for bodily fluids or body parts.

Voice of Narrator:

WTFRW. None quite like us, not before nor ever since, nor ever will be. Unique bunch of dickheads. And goddam proud of it.

1552729772389.jpeg

(Above): Taken at Woodside before boarding the Vung Tau Ferry (the Majestic class aircraft carrier HMAS Sydney, converted to
troopship) at Outer Harbour one Saturday in November 1968. Peter Chant is back row sixth from left, Lew Tizard is back row far left, LR is kneeling, second row, third from right wearing glasses, as he’d done since age sixteen; his 275/225 eyesight was a delayed reaction to German measles at age eight, but that didn’t stop the Army from handing him a rifle and pointing him in the direction of South Vietnam. Logical to assume that Road’s technical blindness was a major factor in the WTFRW going missing at Cultana, a major factor in the WTFRW becoming the WTFRW.


Theme music:

‘Fuquawi’ (Booker T. & The M.G.’s)



Other guests at his table are Road’s wife and son, also a director of the Li and Fung corporate empire, and John Leigh - main board director of the CLP Group, owners of EnergyAustralia who are one of two PAFC Joint Major Sponsors, the second being Renault.

Road feels his Nokia C2-01 vibrating. It’s a text from a Cathay Pacific captain he knows, sitting at an adjacent table.

It reads: CANT YOU MAKE HIM STOP.
 
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Thread starter #124
Voice of Narrator:

Karl Krupp’s speech has gone forty-five minutes with no sign of relief. What can I do but make apologetic eye contact with the CX captain whom I know well ... send him my ‘I’ll take care of this’ signal, stand up, reach inside my jacket, take out the invisible Star Wars disintegrator ray gun I carry around for emergencies such as this, take aim and BZZZZZZZZZAP... .

I lift my head, open both eyes wide. I shake my head in disbelief. He’s still up there, monologging away. Screw me inside-out, the invisible ray gun’s a doggone dud. It was just my imagination ... running away with me ....

I look around, checking if anyone had noticed what I hadn’t done. Nobody’s noticed anything out of place, or in its place. Everybody’s gone to sleep.

Notes:
Road, too, does not appreciate long speeches, or long speakers. He did himself give a long one at the wedding reception for his son and daughter-and-law on Sunday, 27 January 2013. But that was quite different. Not only was the speech different, in that it was his speech ... it was different because something came from it that turned out to be a vicissitude in his life. That speech was a sliding door, another one. As he was composing it, Road, then a few days short of 66, employed the fresh focus he’d discovered to concurrently compile his bucket list. On it he wrote two items that concerned PAFC. No. 1 was to fly to Adelaide and see his first Showdown in the flesh. No. 2 was to get something done about remembering Peter Chant. Something so long overdue it was criminal. Soon, in eighteen days, it would have been forty-four years since Pete was killed.


As at 30 April 2015, in the HKFC Sports Hall, it was forty-six years, two months and sixteen days ... and no longer counting. Something had been done.

That bucket list has been a winner for LR. In his first Showdown the Power had come from behind in the third quarter and won. Another item on the list was to play a game of poker. He hadn’t played poker for forty years. He and Mrs. Road and their daughter were invited by their son and daughter-in-law to join them in Macau on their honeymoon. No comment. A couple of hours before leaving the Banyan Tree to take the jetfoil back to Hong Kong, all save Mrs. Road sat at the Caribbean stud poker table in the vast Galaxy casino and started to play. The buy-in per hand was HK$800 ($A130). Ninety minutes later, when Road felt the time had arrived to cash in, the family was HK$12,000 (A$2,000) in front. Road, himself, was up HK$18,000.

Speaking of numbers, the attendance at the Sports Hall has struggled to get to 260, let alone 500. The sale of corporate tables at HK$15,000 (A$2,500) each has also struggled to half the target - including CBRE who were secured by the local event manager, one of six sponsors she had committed to securing, but that was before the sixty lost days and the 50% fee cut. Another event sponsor is CLP, secured by LR who committed to none. Galloping pneumonia, decision-making paralysis and a disconnect instead of cultural bonding have ganged up to make a terminal medical case of the gala’s revenue generation.

But while the Club are uneasy, as they have every reason to be uneasy, Road is not. LR is sweet. Docile as a dove, malleable as a roll of fresh dough. He’ll take on any shape he’s elbowed into, laugh at anything not worth smiling at on any other day. He’s made a decision. He’s going to ignore imperfections, obstacles and targets missed by a mile for the rest of Thursday, 30 April 2015, and focus on having the time of his life. He’s stocked up on meds to make sure he does.

ROAD, MUMBLES, JOHN E. & ERIC EDMONDS (chorus): “To Pete!”
Another toast to a fallen mate goes down. Beer, still beer. Wine will soon follow. The WTFRW tribe are lubricated. It started before the Races last night, went on during the Races last night, continued after the Races last night.
MUMBLES: “Where The F@#& aRe We?”
ROAD, JOHN E., EDMONDS: “Hong Kong Football Club!”
MUMBLES: “We’re The FukaRWee!”
ROAD, JOHN E., EDMONDS & MUMBLES: “To us!”
Another toast goes down. The routine will repeat itself ad nauseam.


More notes:
On stage Bruce Abernethy does a Q&A with Graham Cornes. There are many in the audience who don’t know what’s going on. Not many are South Australians. Carlito ‘Chicken’ Cacciatori, early in the planning, had put up his hand to fly in Peter Fitzsimons then, he said, John Eales then, he said, Phil Kearns. Sixty days passed and nobody from Alberton, nobody at all, had followed up. Not one of that trio of Rugby royalty could make it in any case. PAFC well knew, well ahead of time, that it wasn’t willing, or able, to afford the appearance fee any of them would demand had they been approached. And then, par for the course, the Chicken, the Club director from Melbourne, ex-journo, TV producer, CEO Mick McGuane Media, having let his side down, decided he wasn’t attending either.


It was Road’s recommendation that the scope of the ANZAC Centenary gala be expanded to cover Rugby, to cater to non South Aussies, also to Kiwis, also to members and guests of the host venue, the HKFC, where Rugby is a foundation football code. At the death it was Graham Cornes who responded to the cry for help, who dropped everything and jumped on a plane, knowing that after being in Hong Kong for less than a day he would be jumping back on it to fly home to Adelaide to meet his weekend media commitments.

John Schumann, recruited for the event after the intervention of the WTFRW, performs solo on stage ‘I Was Only 19’ with his guitar and a backing tape. The anthem for Aussie Vietnam Vets has the Sports Hall in a reverent hush. It puts tears in the eyes of matured men sitting at the WTFRW table. It’s a memorable few minutes for those who remember. A memorial in and to itself.

Road takes John Leigh to meet Thorold Keene, who has been on stage himself, making another first-class presentation on the community programmes set up and managed by PAFC, and on the Club’s plan to extend the same psychology into China. It was John Leigh’s introductory email to the CEO of EnergyAustralia in Melbourne in July 2013 that contributed to them becoming a PAFC JMS.

It isn’t all bad business-wise. The auctions are winners, both of them. They net something like HK$150,000 (A$25,000) in all, divided 50:50 between PAFC and the nominated charity: the Ben Kende Foundation (Ben is a nineteen-year-old Hong Kong Rugby player made into a paraplegic by an inoccuous tackle in a game in Thailand). The auction, staged by a pro operation based in Melbourne who showed up with a catalogue of sports items and a first-class auctioneer, is another main event. This is one of the local event manager’s contributions that helped rescue the gala from being totally written off in red ink.

The other auction is for two PAFC ANZAC Round playing tops with the names imprinted of all the Club’s senior players who’d served their country since 1870. Those who made the supreme sacrifice are suffixed with a symbol. Pete is no. 1 on the roll on the Magpies SANFL top. Road is not going to let that go by minus putting up a fight. He outbids everyone, including his son, sitting behind him; he wins the auction with a bid of HK$21,000 (A$3,500 approx.). The two tops, now framed, are on one wall of his spare room in Happy Valley, opposite a particular Prison Bars exhibit signed by four Eberts and couriered to him by the Club with their sincere thanks in October 2013.

Graham Cornes is convinced by now that this character called Lockhart Road is no common or garden PAFC fan. This bloke, Graham has taken note, is too ‘ridiculously passionate’ about his football club for his own good. He will attest to this in a piece he will later write for the Advertiser, to be published on the Saturday prior to ANZAC Day the following year. Graham’s article will coincide with an incredible announcement about PAFC and the AFL in Shanghai. In this future write-up Graham, on Road’s coaxing and with his guidance, will tell his readers about Peter Chant’s posthumous, somewhat spectral, contribution to PAFC’s bold adventure into China.

ROAD, MUMBLES, JOHN E. & ERIC EDMONDS (chorus): “To Pete!”
MUMBLES: “Where The F@#& aRe We?”
ROAD, JOHN E., EDMONDS: “Hong Kong Football Club!”
MUMBLES: “We’re The FukaRWee!”
ROAD, JOHN E., EDMONDS & MUMBLES: “To us!”



SCENE 24 -
3:30 p.m. same day.


Chairman’s Bar upstairs from Sports Hall, crowded with people after the PAFC ANZAC Centenary Luncheon. I mean ... packed with people. Chock a block. The Chairman’s Bar will stay packed until well after the sun goes down, the proof in the pudding that although only 260 rolled up, they’ve enjoyed the show.

Setting:
Around the walls are caricatures of successive HKFC chairmen going back to the 1960s. There are, as well, caricatures of a selection of the club’s historic personalities which Road commissioned during the three years he worked on ‘——along the sports road’. Through the floor-to-ceiling glass windows is a panoramic view of the Race Course and everything around and about it. The Chairman’s Bar is otherwise the archetype of a members’ club bar.


Notes:
John Schumann is scheduled to perform Power to the People with guitar and backing tape, the WTFRW and the Team China senior pro and captain joining in the chorus. Karl Krupp, exuding zealous priority, shifts his chair forward, into the front row, directly in front of the microphone. LR, by now an ebullient happy floating on air LR, his spirits up there out there in outer space, and his take-no-bullshit-from-anyone-no-matter-who-they-are self-defence system locked in ... is handed the microphone.


Voice of Narrator: Uh oh.

ROAD: “Me?”
MUMBLES: “Who else? This is all yours, mate. Do some work for it.”


Robbins leans towards Mattinson sitting next to him.
ROBBINS: “Er ... this might get a bit dangerous.”
MATTINSON: “Red Adair, eh?”
ROBBINS: “Who told you about that?”
MATTINSON: “LR did. One time when he was being Fred Astaire.”


ROAD (into mike): “Thank you, all of you, for being here. Why are we here? Karl Krupp is here, you might’ve noticed, on his way back to Sydney and Channel 7 from Gallipoli. That’s Karl in the front row, right there. Karl is here for our, a few days unavoidably belated, ANZAC Centenary commemoration, hosted by Port Adelaide Football Club. And hosted, too, by the Hong Kong Football Club ... to whom - as Karl announced to us in his extensive ... ly informative speech - I am PAFC’s official ambassador. That’s a promotion, I think ... or not. But that’s not why we’re here. We’re all here, to cut to the chase, because when the Kaiser’s in town, he wants everyone to know about it.”

Road checks out the PAFC Chairman, who is rolling his eyes, shifting in his seat, body language screaming: ‘What is this? I’m not sitting still for THIS!”

What ‘THIS’ actually was, truth be known, was the tipping point between polar opposites. The Kaiser hailed from the big Antipodean city called Planet Krupp, while Road came from the big Asian city called Planet Road.

Voice of Narrator: And ne’er the twain shall meet.

Notes:
This would be the pinnacle personal moment, the summit, top of the mountain, in PAFC’s China adventure for Lockhart Road. It could be all downhill from here, he knew. If it was, he couldn’t give a rat’s rectum. Once you have made it to the mountain top, physics dictate, down is the only way up, via the next mountain.


Road introduces John Schumann as an ‘honorary’ member of the WTFRW and of the 9RAR Association and, of lesser importance, a songwriter, guitarist and singer renowned all over the Land Down Under and beyond. Schuey allows an honorary digger’s snigger, picks the opening chord, and we’re off.

Power to the People.

Road joins in the chorus loudest of all. Louder than Mumbles, louder than John E., louder than the two Team China leaders to whom Road had emailed well in advance the lines for them to learn by heart.

Power to the people ... power to the game.
Power to Port Adelaide ... it’s where we get our name.
And Alberton’s sons and daughters ... under South Australian skies,
Win or lose, we’re back again ... to claim the winner’s prize.


 
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Thread starter #125
SCENE 25 - (Flash forward. Three years and seven months. Or 1,312 days.)

A late afternoon / evening Tuesday in early December 2018.

Setting:
The Happy Valley Bar & Grill. For quite a while it has been Pro Drinkers Corner. Road and Robbins are meeting, as they still do once each week, every Tuesday, to talk about what’s left of the PAFC China Strategy as at December 2018 ... .



Notes and theme music:

‘Here Come The Judge’ (The Magistrates)



Lockhart Road has, just the day before, been sacked by the PAFC CEO from his temporary, acting, unofficial, unpaid position as senior volunteer China Advisor Whose Advice Is To Be Ignored, Consequent Peril Notwithstanding.

He’s been sacked, unilaterally, for the offences of ‘negativity and disloyalty’. His dismissal is a reactionary penalty imposed on a six-year China advisor with not far short of a half-century of China nous, who refused to toe the party line, who wouldn’t bend over, wouldn’t keep quiet, who told it like it is on public forum ... but who in the process committed the most heinous of crimes, aiming a public finger of primary culpability for PAFC’s financial flop - in China, but not only in China - at Karl Krupp, alias Chairman Moi.

As at 31 October 2018, PAFC, consequent to strictly following its own internal inexpert advice, had hobbled to fifty per cent of its China revenue target. I say again: fifty per cent.

It was Red Adair who fire-engineered Road’s sacking. But that didn’t exonerate or save bystander Fred Astaire. All three went down together. All pushed, none jumped. All three of them sucked as one into the persona non grata gurgler. All three of them ground through the persona non grata meat grinder. Ugh.

Road, Astaire and Adair. Road kill. Not a pretty sight.

Their proscuitto, mushroom, tomato and mozzarella pizza from Mickey B’s next door has been put in front of Road and Robbins. They have started with beer; white wine to come later, one glass these days - age is wearying them - despite the Indian summer showing no sign of signing off, daily setting a new record temperature. There will in fact be no winter this winter. Global warming? Not on the agenda.

ROBBINS: “Why on earth did you say what you did to Krupp that day?”
ROAD: “In the Chairman’s Bar after the ANZAC Centenary Luncheon? That day Krupp rolled his eyes so hard they nearly pinwheeled out of his skull?”
ROBBINS: “You know that’s the day I mean.”
ROAD: “Well, you could’ve been referring to that lunch Krupp hosted six months later ... at the top of Pacific Place.”
ROBBINS: “You were well-behaved and polite to him at that lunch. He was the one who played the arsehole that time, not you.”
ROAD: “You’re saying I was the arsehole in the Chairman’s Bar ... that he was only squaring up at the lunch?”
ROBBINS: “Seriously, why did you say what you said to Krupp with a room full of people listening? Now that it’s come to this, I want to know.”
ROAD: “He insulted me.”
ROBBINS: “Listen to me. The Chairman’s Bar, I mean. Not the day he wouldn’t shake your hand properly. Or the day he refused to say what you wanted him to say to Sam Agars at the interview you set up to tell the world the Club’s keeping its future options open on Kai Tak Sports Park. The Chairman’s Bar, LR.”
ROAD: “The day Krupp told 500 people I was PAFC Ambassador to HKFC.”
ROBBINS: “It was less than 300. But so what? The deputy chairman demoted you even further later on.”
ROAD (nodding): “June 2016. Fourteen months later. At that cocktail reception in the Lockhart Room at the Football Club. Kevin told another room full of ears that you were Hon. Sec. PAFC China Advisory Group and I was - “
ROBBINS: “My ‘able assistant’. We both laughed at that.”
ROAD: “I laughed my prickly arse off. Doesn’t mean I thought it was funny.”
ROBBINS: “You’re not getting precious on me, are you?”
ROAD: “Probably. Wouldn’t be the first time. No. What I’m saying is that what’s now happened is the culmination of a long and determined inevitability. Krupp’s knife was into me from the moment he and I met. Before the ANZAC Centenary at the HKFC. Two years before, almost exactly.”
ROBBINS: “Explain.”
ROAD: “If I told you Krupp insulted Peter Chant would you believe it?”
ROBBINS: “What?”
ROAD: “Krupp insulted Peter Chant, and the WTFRW, too, the first time I met him. 2013, Magarey Room, Football Park, ANZAC round 5 versus West Coast.”
ROBBINS: “When Peter was officially recognised by the Club?”
ROAD: “You believe it?”
ROBBINS: “No I don’t. Obviously you do.”
ROAD: “Krupp didn’t do it on purpose. That would’ve required perception.”
ROBBINS: “Then why did it happen ... if it happened?”
ROAD: “It was collateral damage.”
ROBBINS: “From what?”
ROAD: “First impressions.”


Camera flashes back, reprises the scene in the Chairman’s Bar on Thursday, 30 April 3015 when Karl Krupp had rolled his eyes in disapproval at what Road was saying about him into the microphone.

Notes:
That was the moment Road knew for certain that he and Krupp could never be mates, could never be friends, nor even casual acquaintances, with or without the common ground that PAFC provided. It was never, ever going to work. Road had just made sure it wouldn’t, and he had done it on purpose.


He could see it in Krupp’s eyes. Doubtless Krupp could see it in Road’s eyes. In his recall of that instant of eyeball communication across a short, impossible gap, Road was reminded of when, at an early weekly meeting in Coyote, he’d once tutored Robin Robbins about the infallibility of first impressions.

Peter Chant was ‘there’ when Krupp and Road had first met. And indeed it was at the pre-match function, round 5, 2013 - the ANZAC round match when Pete had been officially received back into the Port Adelaide fold after an absence of half a century. Road was chatting to John E., telling him that when he got to Hong Kong a few days later he was going to get something started ... a project aimed at landing a substantial sponsor for the Club. Road began to tell John E. about CLP, about China Light & Power, and by extension EnergyAustralia.

John E. took Road’s arm, led him straight over to ex-Governor of SA Sir Neil Elix and introduced them. Sir Neil was enthralled, as befits a solid elder statesman, a solid Club Patron. He told LR a little about his experience with ETSA, about his own contacts with visitors from CLP. Sir Neil took Road by the arm, led him straight across the Magarey Room to his nephew, expertly broke in to the chat Karl Krupp was engaged in with somebody or other, made the introductions, and left them to it.

‘It’ turned into the most uncomfortable few minutes of Road’s life.

Apparently Krupp’s interrupted conversation had been to do with a strategy for conquering the world and renaming it after himself. He looked down the long curved bridge of his nose, unreservedly annoyed. Krupp couldn’t be bothered. Krupp was unresponsive. Krupp said nothing worth hearing. In fact, Krupp said virtually nothing whatsoever.

And he would repeat the non-performance at half time, when the Power were six goals down and Krupp had made a beeline for a far corner and a personal jug of draft beer ... only to have this whoever he was from Hong Kong break into his mental preparation for the accusatory questions that would be coming his way ... to thrust upon him some audacious tie painted with the head of an American Indian wearing two feathers, one bent.

Destined for the bottom of the first available trash can was that piece of shit two-cent tie, so read the below-zero message in the eye of the Kaiser.

The stilletto of bad first impression had gone straight in, hard and sharp and all the way, under the ribcages of both men. It had been followed by the bayonet of worse second impression ... given a hefty twist to make sure it left a scar.

That tie ... the WTFRW tie, the black, yellow and red tie with three feathers on it as well as the head of the American Indian brave - the three feathers in honour of the trio of Charlie Coy. 9RAR diggers who’d given their lives in Vietnam: Ron Gaffney, Ray Kermode and Peter Chant - had rescued the game in the second half. That tie ... Pete’s tie ... presented at half time to a Club Chairman seeking respite, a temporary escape, hiding from human contact, had put a magic spell on the Power. That tie, that priceless piece of Pete’s memory, had put him on the field - a nineteenth man among men who shook off a seven-goal deficit in the third quarter to win by five points.

What Krupp ultimately did with Peter Chant’s magic tie ... only he knows.

It, too, ought to be framed and mounted on a wall in the Port Club.

The tug of war didn’t end there. Road didn’t quit. He attempted to break the ice with Karl Krupp in another way, from another direction. When he got back home to Hong Kong he packed and sent off by courier to Krupp a notated and signed copy of ‘——along the sports road’ (that’s 320 coffee-table size pages, 1,000 images, hard illustrated cover, over two kgs. in weight, meant to educate Krupp on what Road had been trying to explain to him under difficulty) together with a covering letter expressing gratitude, admiration, the best of intent. Road printed the letter on faux parchment paper for added effect.

Krupp never acknowledged the book or the letter, not even the faux parchment paper. Still hasn’t. Krupp has never even said: “Thank you.” These are two little words that we are taught from the pram to mean so much, if they are spoken or especially written, and which say so much to the contrary if they are not.

Karl Krupp never said thank you for EnergyAustralia either.


Voice of Narrator:

There is a quality in a man’s character called ‘the common touch’. Or there should be. If there was ever a little boy who’d never had Kipling’s ‘If’ read to him by his dad ... or hadn’t listened to it, or understood it ... this was that little boy.

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - - nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And - - which is more - - you’ll be a Man, my Son!


I would soon begin to seriously wonder if Karl Krupp was actually born and raised in Port Adelaide.

Enough. We’ll catch up on this nonsense later, see what can be done to fix it later, at the appropriate time. Now let’s head back, to May Day 2015, to that meeting scheduled between Thorold Keene, Rick Mattinson, Robin Robbins and myself. Let’s get on up the rest of our China rabbit-hole. Let’s get on with the story proper ... in which the Kaiser will be from now on conspicuous by his virtual and blessed physical absence.


SCENE 26 - (Flashback)

Friday, 1st May 2015, public holiday, the day after the PAFC ANZAC Centenary.

Setting:
Lobby lounge of the New World Renaissance in Wanchai North. This is the noon meeting between the aforementioned suspects. Ugo Alsthom, whom anybody might think would be required to sit in on the meeting to learn a thing or two, is ‘out shopping’ or something.


Notes:
It is noon plus ten. Road is late, but ten minutes is not bad considering that he decided to walk from Happy Valley to the Renaissance, to shake up his nerve endings, clear his head, get his oxygen and adrenaline circulating. Last night, post the Chairman’s Bar, the WTFRW raiding party descended on a venerable institution: the American Restaurant in the heart of the Wanchai entertainment district. Its name is a misnomer. It is in fact a Cantonese restaurant with 1950s decor. After the noisy meal that concluded with suggestions as to where to go next getting suggestive, Mrs. Road, having accumulated the pragmatism of a thirty-six-year mixed marriage, withdrew and accepted a lift home.


The WTFRW headed for the Fire House in Jaffe Road, occupied the corner next to the ‘disc jockey’, the bar’s part-owner whom Road had known for thirty-plus years, and put in requests until late. The Animals and ‘We Gotta Get Out of This Place’ .... CCR and ‘Run Through the Jungle’ ... Jefferson Airplane and ‘White Rabbit’ ... The Guess Who and ‘These Eyes’ ... went on repeat. No WTFRW tribe member including John Schumann made it to their disparate bedrooms before the small hours. Sensibly, the Fire House dancers, on six-month contracts from Pampanga in the Philippines, had kept their distance.

The meeting in the Renaissance lobby lounge doesn’t last that long. It’s more of a summation of what everyone knows. Mattinson acts as minute secretary.

ROAD: “The objective is to make the right impression. Avoid giving off negative vibes in any way, shape or form. Don’t look up to them and don’t look down on them. Keep everything equal. Treat them as if they are fellow Australians, not foreign investors, without calling them ‘mate’. Throw in a few lines and gestures that they will interpret as respectful, but don’t overdo it. Follow closely the line, the inherent message, that they need us as much as we need them. It’s all got to be equal. It’s all got to be in balance.”
KEENE: “What should we look out for? How will we know we’ve got it right?”
ROAD: “They’ll invite you to Beijing.”
KEENE: “And if they don’t?”
ROAD: “You’ve blown it.”
Keene nods, glances at Mattinson who’s jotting in his notebook.


ROAD: “One last thing. It’s important. China State Net is Beijing. They represent China’s Central Government, even the Politburo. They’re accustomed to doing their thing government to government. They’ll be looking out for proof that the Club has real connections ... personal connections ... at the top of the South Australian Government. They’ll need to have something to take away with them, to take home to Beijing to put on the table, be able to point to and show their superiors that talking with PAFC, that taking PAFC seriously, can take them on a ride to somewhere worthwhile down there in that strange place called Australia that they wouldn’t otherwise get to.”
KEENE: “Something such as?”
ROAD: “Take with you a letter of recommendation personally autographed by the Premier of South Australia. Give it to their senior person right at the start. It will set the tone of the meeting.”
KEENE (glancing at Mattinson again; both nod): “I think we can manage that.”



SCENE 27 -

Camera follows Road and Robbins as they exit the Renaissance into the bridge to Central Plaza, through its lobby, into the footbridge across Gloucester Road. They are heading for Mes Amis, for the Pro Drinkers Corner, the original one, for a beer and an agreement re a summation.

Notes:
It had been an eventful week. It had been, for Road, a wonderful week. It had been a week with multiple facets. Like a diamond. It had been a diamond of a week. A great deal of work had gone into setting up each of the facets so that they fitted seamlessly together. Seamlessness is probably impossible, even at the best of times. But, once the week got started, any bumps as it moved from facet to facet weren’t bumps at all. LR felt nothing, felt no pain the whole week long.


The week had culminated with a meeting that had agreed the next step in the strategy that targetted a million-dollar partner for PAFC in China. It had been the precise objective for LR in 2013 when he had, without even thinking about it, upgraded his mission to have Peter Chant remembered by the club for which he had played senior football in the early 1960s into a mission to make PAFC’s China Strategy a financial victory.

Suddenly, strangely, Road notices his private world has gone deathly quiet. The severe bilateral tinnitus that makes a major contribution to his anxiety state but a minor contribution to his 90% DVA war caused disability pension, is taking a break. Perhaps he’s happened upon a medical breakthrough. Severe bilateral tinnitus cannot be cured, or so it has been determined by overpaid experts who don’t suffer from it and thus have no concept for it nor any real empathy with it. But perhaps it can, if not cured, be sidelined. Perhaps it cannot compete when life is going to plan. The damned never-ending dog whistle inside LR’s head, it’s suddenly occurred to him, is no match for a diamond of a week.

He knew that it was temporary, that it would be a short respite, this blessed noiselessness from within. But he is determined to appreciate it while it hung about. He listens in to the silence as if it was music.

ROBBINS: “I think that went well.”
ROAD: “It went very well, Robin. I feel like it’s fifteen years ago and I’m back in the swing of things.”
ROBBINS: “That’s good, too.”
They sit quietly under the leafy Senegal mahogany tree on Luard Road on the corner outside Mes Amis, drinking Tsingtao draft, watching Hong Kong driving by, watching Hong Kong walking by, a little less hurried than the norm. It was May Day, Workers’ Day, a public holiday in the Special Administrative Region of China. Road calls for another round of Tsingtao draft.
ROAD: “Here’s to us.”
ROBBINS: “Here’s to Peter Chant.”
ROAD: “Yes, mate. Absolutely. Here’s to the quiet little bloke.”
They each quaff an inch.
ROBBINS: “Top draft beer, this.”
ROAD: “Yep. Best beer I’ve had since the last one.”
ROBBINS: “Ugo Alsthom really thinks Pete is still alive?”
ROAD: “I’m too soft a touch to disillusion him.”
ROBBINS: “He’s not completely wrong. Pete has been with us this week.”
ROAD: “He sure has.”


Road goes quiet. He’s listening in again to the silence in his head as if it’s music. Rockin’ Robin interprets perfectly, keeps quiet, too.

Theme music:

‘I Can Hear Music’ (Kathy Troccoli & The Beach Boys).



Next: Episode 5 -
THE MAMMOTH, THE MOUSE, AND THE FOX -
May 2015 - May 2017
* Nervous introductions, China State Net formalities; Alsthom befuddled.
* Keene dips his toe in the Beijing snow; Alsthom connects with CCTV-5.
* Something Shanghai: Mr. Gui whisks PAFC off on a white-knuckle ride.
* Road, Keene talk Shanghai customs, solving Alsthom’s people problem.
* Alsthom hits on Sports Diplomacy in Shanghai; King K misses the picnic.


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