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

rocket18

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I have trouble getting past your ego, it seems "foreign" to me someone writing how good they are (the part with Mrs Road blowing your trumpet) but totally respect the love you have for your club and even more your service to our country.

Was enthralled with the Vietnam account, thank you.
 

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Janus

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"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."

The italicised part was the whole issue I feel. If Sir Elix had stayed there with you, as Patron of the club, it would have given what you had to say cachet by association. Krupp didn't know you from a bar of soap at that time, and you have no idea who that 'somebody or other' that he was speaking to actually was...Sir Elix thought that it was important enough to interrupt a conversation straight away, but didn't think it was important enough to stick around for a few minutes? I don't get it.

I've always seen Krupp as like one of the people on this board. Image what he would have been posting if it were a gameday thread. Some people want to sack the entire team at times, and he was probably thinking about what he had gotten himself into when we were down by that much against West Coast at home. Especially since the catchcry of that season was that we wouldn't give up. I agree that he should have been more magnanimous, and yes, the club chairman should be able to rise above it and be dispassionate in his role as head of PAFC, but I wouldn't like to make a first impression based on that. He was only a few months into the role at the time, after all.

I think when you imagine something to be so, it's inevitable that your thoughts become reality. You thought he had it in for you from day one, and that coloured your attitude toward him, which made him respond in kind. Is he an egotistical asshole? Absolutely. But that isn't a reason to publicly humiliate him in front of 260 people by exposing that egotism as your first words of introduction. While I found "We’re all here, to cut to the chase, because when the Kaiser’s in town, he wants everyone to know about it" to be funny...wouldn't it have been better to mention Peter Chant? Didn't you say that was what you wanted the gala to be about? A great opportunity to honour a mate by saying everyone was here for him, and instead you took it as an opportunity to get one over Krupp...who so wasn't worth it. I get that Red Adair was probably in the driver's seat at that moment, but still...a tragic waste, IMO.

I definitely agree with your assessment of Alsthom from the limited engagement I've had with him - that's why Power Footy and the community angle in China is a good fit for him because it's dealing with schools and I wouldn't criticise the club for promoting that side of things. They need a commercial manager quick smart though.
 

Tibbs

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Enthralling!

I don't get the "ego" callers! Tossers don't even know the English language! We all have egos people ... If you don't, you are dead! An ego is none other than an awareness of self, something all living humans should have. And to be writing about one's self, one's own role in a saga such as this, calls for LR, in this instance, to put his ego as it were into print. Not a casual or easy thing to do!

Now, does LR have a big or "inflated" ego, i.e., an inflated sense of his self worth? Really? Do you see that? Does that in any way come across? I just don't see it! We might not all agree with all of his actions, but then at time, neither does he.

Great writing, great reading.
 

Sanders

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—————————————


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.

View attachment 636151

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.

View attachment 636152

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.

View attachment 636156

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.

View attachment 636160 (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. On 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 ... .

View attachment 636159

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.

View attachment 636155

“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 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’. An 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.

View attachment 636162
(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.

View attachment 636171

(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.


View attachment 636164
I was quite moved by this. The depiction of the fire fight in the ambush vivid, visceral and upsetting. Thanks for sharing

Private road looks a bit like Bryce Gibbs in that photo ;)
 

Sanders

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Setting aside the parochialism, the us and them but, but can someone legitimately tell me what makes David Koch worthy of being taken seriously

I could be totally wrong, but has he actually achieved anything in business? Isn’t he just a journalist and tv presenter who talks about things he’s never done?

We all know everything is about Koch but why?

What am I missing.

Don’t get me wrong there are a lot of very successful people who are useless twats, and would be just as infuriating; but I can’t figure out where his credibility is meant to come from

Feel free to tell me I’m an idiot, ignorant so and do etc, just tell me why?
 
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Setting aside the parochialism, the us and them but, but can someone legitimately tell me what makes David Koch worthy of being taken seriously

I could be totally wrong, but has he actually achieved anything in business? Isn’t he just a journalist and tv presenter who talks about things he’s never done?

We all know everything is about Koch but why?

What am I missing.

Don’t get me wrong there are a lot of very successful people who are useless twats, and would be just as infuriating; but I can’t figure out where his credibility is meant to come from

Feel free to tell me I’m an idiot, ignorant so and do etc, just tell me why?
Koch did some good when he came to the club, and has an understanding Port Adelaide’s strong desire for success. His time is over though, in my opinion.

As you said plenty of successful people are useless twats. Being in a high position doesn’t have any strong relation to being competent let alone spectacular.

What you are seeing is what you’d see upon looking hard at most presidents and CEOs. To quote Michelle Obama “they aren’t that smart”
 
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I could be totally wrong, but has he actually achieved anything in business? Isn’t he just a journalist and tv presenter who talks about things he’s never done?...
Before Koch started working on TV, ie Sky News and Ch 7 as the business journo in the mid to late 1990's, he launched several magazines. He was working for Fairfax and their BRW magazine. He wanted to work on something that didn't talk just about the executives at big firms, but which companies the average punter should invest in so he launched Personal Investment magazine, which later he helped launch the NZ and UK version for Fairfax. He also had something to do with Money Magazine, think he was responsible for buying it for Fairfax. So he successfully ran a division of Fairfax, their business magazines in the 1980's and 1990's.

He has a media company called Pinstripe Media that started off producing his business show on Ch 7 ten years or so ago, but now makes other programs and works with large businesses making corporate video stuff - digital/web content marketing stuff as well. He has several small business/start up business brands as part of the Pinstripe group. He has a small production team in HK as well as Oz. I think all up its 12-18 people in Oz and HK, but it might be more. His team turned my mate, the Airport Economist's book in to several half hour shows about doing business offshore / exporting products.
 
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Thread starter #133
"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."

The italicised part was the whole issue I feel. If Sir Elix had stayed there with you, as Patron of the club, it would have given what you had to say cachet by association. Krupp didn't know you from a bar of soap at that time, and you have no idea who that 'somebody or other' that he was speaking to actually was...Sir Elix thought that it was important enough to interrupt a conversation straight away, but didn't think it was important enough to stick around for a few minutes? I don't get it.

I've always seen Krupp as like one of the people on this board. Image what he would have been posting if it were a gameday thread. Some people want to sack the entire team at times, and he was probably thinking about what he had gotten himself into when we were down by that much against West Coast at home. Especially since the catchcry of that season was that we wouldn't give up. I agree that he should have been more magnanimous, and yes, the club chairman should be able to rise above it and be dispassionate in his role as head of PAFC, but I wouldn't like to make a first impression based on that. He was only a few months into the role at the time, after all.

I think when you imagine something to be so, it's inevitable that your thoughts become reality. You thought he had it in for you from day one, and that coloured your attitude toward him, which made him respond in kind. Is he an egotistical asshole? Absolutely. But that isn't a reason to publicly humiliate him in front of 260 people by exposing that egotism as your first words of introduction. While I found "We’re all here, to cut to the chase, because when the Kaiser’s in town, he wants everyone to know about it" to be funny...wouldn't it have been better to mention Peter Chant? Didn't you say that was what you wanted the gala to be about? A great opportunity to honour a mate by saying everyone was here for him, and instead you took it as an opportunity to get one over Krupp...who so wasn't worth it. I get that Red Adair was probably in the driver's seat at that moment, but still...a tragic waste, IMO.

I definitely agree with your assessment of Alsthom from the limited engagement I've had with him - that's why Power Footy and the community angle in China is a good fit for him because it's dealing with schools and I wouldn't criticise the club for promoting that side of things. They need a commercial manager quick smart though.
While I, as Lockhart Road, appreciate your interpretation, I have to disagree with you.
Sir Neil Elix did as much as he needed to. He didn’t need to hang around. The rest was up to Krupp.
Yes, I was expecting the Chairman of my Club to react like the Chairman of my Club, not some elevated precious non entity. Christ, I can behave like that myself, and so can anyone else. I gave him three chances to make a decent first impression including the couriered gift and he blew each one. Three strikes. Out.

How do you know I didn’t mention Peter Chant in my intro the the crowd in the Chairman’s Bar? In fact, I did. I was handed the mike by a member of the WTFRW and spoke on behalf of the WTFRW. Of course I mentioned Peter Chant. But do I have to include every single word and phrase I said at any point in time?
I’ve already been accused of needing an editor, by someone who doesn’t know as much as I do about working with editors. I’ve had several. Got a laugh out of that one, I did.
 
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Setting aside the parochialism, the us and them but, but can someone legitimately tell me what makes David Koch worthy of being taken seriously

I could be totally wrong, but has he actually achieved anything in business? Isn’t he just a journalist and tv presenter who talks about things he’s never done?

We all know everything is about Koch but why?

What am I missing.

Don’t get me wrong there are a lot of very successful people who are useless twats, and would be just as infuriating; but I can’t figure out where his credibility is meant to come from

Feel free to tell me I’m an idiot, ignorant so and do etc, just tell me why?
I’ll stick to Krupp for obvious reasons. He is the ‘essential villain’ of my story for good reason.
He was effective for two years. Then he got carried away with his own sole essentualness to the future and success of the Club. This coincides with the 2015 collapse on field.
The concurrent problem was that nobody would, will, stand up to him. Except perhaps Thorold Keene at first, very carefully, but Keene got worn down by Krupp’s overbearing carborundum ‘personality’.
Now I’m standing up to him as LR. At my cost you might say. But I’d had enough of witnessing the start of the failure of the China Strategy without speaking up, without putting something on the record, without trying to do SOMETHING about it.
The Club can fix this. But not with the ‘leadership’ being what they are / who they are. And time is short.
 

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While I, as Lockhart Road, appreciate your interpretation, I have to disagree with you.
Sir Neil Elix did as much as he needed to. He didn’t need to hang around. The rest was up to Krupp.
Yes, I was expecting the Chairman of my Club to react like the Chairman of my Club, not some elevated precious non entity. Christ, I can behave like that myself, and so can anyone else. I gave him three chances to make a decent first impression including the couriered gift and he blew each one. Three strikes. Out.

How do you know I didn’t mention Peter Chant in my intro the the crowd in the Chairman’s Bar? In fact, I did. I was handed the mike by a member of the WTFRW and spoke on behalf of the WTFRW. Of course I mentioned Peter Chant. But do I have to include every single word and phrase I said at any point in time?
I’ve already been accused of needing an editor, by someone who doesn’t know as much as I do about working with editors. I’ve had several. Got a laugh out of that one, I did.
Some people are natural jerks though. I'm not making excuses for him, I just think once you work out 'Yep, this guy is egotistical' then you cut him out of the conversation and instead talk to people who aren't so precious, like the CEO.

As for the other...I can only go by what you post - you don't have to mention every single word and phrase, but a brief mention of it since you spoke of him all the time during the post would have made it more clear. It just read odd, that's all.
 
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Some people are natural jerks though. I'm not making excuses for him, I just think once you work out 'Yep, this guy is egotistical' then you cut him out of the conversation and instead talk to people who aren't so precious, like the CEO.

As for the other...I can only go by what you post - you don't have to mention every single word and phrase, but a brief mention of it since you spoke of him all the time during the post would have made it more clear. It just read odd, that's all.
I’d already accused myself earlier in Episode 4 of making Peter Chant my personal agenda. If I’d overdone the mention I made of him with Krupp within reach in the front row that would’ve made it a certainty. The people in the Chairman’s Bar were not there for Peter Chant. They were there for everything else to do with the ANZAC Centenary and PAFC’s admirable role in it. Pete’s mates had flown up to Hong Kong for him. We were content to keep him within our group by that stage.
Let’s leave it at that. Thank you again for your interest, involvement, and input.
 

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I’d already accused myself earlier in Episode 4 of making Peter Chant my personal agenda. If I’d overdone the mention I made of him with Krupp within reach in the front row that would’ve made it a certainty. The people in the Chairman’s Bar were not there for Peter Chant. They were there for everything else to do with the ANZAC Centenary and PAFC’s admirable role in it. Pete’s mates had flown up to Hong Kong for him. We were content to keep him within our group by that stage.
Let’s leave it at that. Thank you again for your interest, involvement, and input.
Okay , that makes perfect sense to me now. Sorry for not understanding it more clearly :)
 
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I was quite moved by this. The depiction of the fire fight in the ambush vivid, visceral and upsetting. Thanks for sharing

Private road looks a bit like Bryce Gibbs in that photo ;)
I have just reminded myself of another war story, a different kind of one. It’s about that inimitable character Captain Lew Tizard, of Teflon-coated frypan, dressing gown and braised Vietnamese monster rat in aniseed Pernod gravy fame. It’s also about the brilliant little Kodak Instamatic, a marvellous invention, one of which Lew would carry in one of his belt pouches to record his adventures in the bush or, when in Vietnam, on an operation.

We had been in-country a couple of weeks, were out on our first proper operation, code-named King Hit II, just north of Binh Ba (see map previous page) or thereabouts. The company commander was a cautious operator. Never took any unnecessary risks. He’s still the patron of the WTFRW today, aged 83. We’d been on the operation a few days when he decided to adopt another tactic from Malaya and Borneo: sleep mainly by day, ambush by night, and if we came across a creek whilst on foot and there was enough light left, follow the creek by wading along it.

As I was Lew’s batman I was a cricket pitch in front of him, wading along this creek with the water just under waist deep. It was getting into late afternoon. Everything was quiet, dead quiet, nobody daring to make a sound as it carries farther and louder over water.

I checked over my shoulder to see Lew with his Instamatic out, in his right hand, his eyes darting about like a talent scout on commission, seeking out something worth adding to his collection of warrie snapshots. He had his Armalite cradled in the crook of his left arm. The Armalite was carried by officers, NCOs, scouts, medics and anyone regarded as essential. We common or garden grunts lugged the bloody SLR.

Suddenly there’s a sharp yell ... of anguish more than pain ... followed by a loud splash.

It was right behind me.

I duck, I twist around ... to see something I would never forget.

Lew was totally under water. He’d slipped or tripped on something. Actually he wasn’t totally under water. He had one arm straight up in the air, holding something, keeping whatever was in his fist dry, as if it was the most vital piece of property he’d ever owned, nothing else was worth saving.

No, it wasn’t his Armalite. That was under water with the rest of him. His precious automatic rifle, his self-defence machinery in a war zone, in a spontaneous reaction, took second place.

Up in the air, safe, rescued, was Lew’s Instamatic camera.

Grasped tight at the end of an arm sticking straight up out of the water, like something out of the final scene in Apocalypse Now ... that was the only sight that remained for a priceless moment or two of Captain Lew Tizard, infantry officer, trained to kill.
 
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UP THE CHINA RABBIT-HOLE - The TV Docudrama Series


Theme music:

‘Chariots Of Fire’ (Ferrante and Teicher)



Voice of Narrator:

China State Gas & Power Net. Biggest power company in the world. They’re every bit a mammoth global corporation, starting with a monopoly in China in all but the five southernmost provinces. They’re about to open a dialogue with a mouse. They’re about to open an examination into what the benefits might be in co-operating with the Port Adelaide Football Club, whose team in the national AFL competition, did you know, is called the Power.

Pow-WAH!

The coincidences pile on each other. To me coincidences are a sign things are on the right path. Unless they are bad coincidences. In that case things are on the wrong path. Coincidences are like omens. I believe in both.

How did I get involved in the power industry? I’m not even an engineer. I left Australia in 1971 with a c.v. that was threadbare, not a surprise seeing that I was just getting into my adult life. Leaving Certificate alias matriculation, then Commonwealth Government service as a clerk, broken into two parts by two years in the Army as rifleman and lance-corporal pay clerk. Nothing to write home about. Nothing much to read about on my c.v. in 1971.

But I stepped into the power industry in Hong Kong on the Monday morning on which I pushed open the heavy varnished wood and frosted glass doors of an office on the third floor of No. 9 Ice House Street, walked across the clicking and shuffling parquet floor to the reception counter, and asked for the managing director. I was reporting for work as his general assistant.

This was a Monday just before Xmas in December 1971. Ice House Street curled into Central from just up the hill where the FCC is now and the ice house was then. The corner office I’d entered looked up into that narrow curling carriageway. General Chinese myth has it that a dragon sleeps in every mountain, local myth has it that the spine of the dragon dozing in the one rising above Ice House Street follows it down into Central. That is feng shui as good as it gets.

For me the feng shui started producing immediately. The fact that I had a family connection in situ at the very top of China Light & Power (CLP) did me no harm at all. This connection had assured me that I was starting work in a venerable corporation, one that was established in Hong Kong in 1866. I had managed to be, by a fluke extraordinaire, been hired by a company that in Shanghai in the era prior to 1949 was part of the great Jewish business empire called Sassoon.

It was another of my career flukes in Asia. To get to the truth behind it, the whole truth, nothing but the truth, we have to go back to five years before I was born. Sound like going back to the Garden of Eden to kick off a story set in the future? But that’s where I have to begin, or I’ll be shortchanging you. Minus five was me when this particular sliding door did its slide. It slid, of course, for someone else. His name was Dean Barrett.

He, too, like Robin Robbins and me, was born in the year of the Pig. Maybe that had something to do with what was to follow. Pigs wallow as one.

Dean was madly in love with my Aunt Elaine. He was eighteen, she was two months younger, still seventeen. Imagine Jane Russell, aged seventeen, or even a hint in places of Elizabeth Taylor; that was my Aunt Elaine, broken hearts all over the shop. Dean had his eighteenth birthday just three days before an ‘act of infamy’, a mass murder called Pearl Harbor. 8 December 1941 was the day Dean convinced himself he was going to die, very soon.

He lived in Payneham, Kapunda Terrace, right on the divide with Evandale. He would walk south from his front gate, across the road, and be in Morris Street, Evandale. At No. 9 lived my parents and infant brother. Dean would go past, reach Bakewell Road, Evandale and turn right. A few more minutes walk and he would be at No. 17 Bakewell Road - where Elaine lived, with her parents, my maternal grandparents. That was where Dean Barrett had his marriage proposal rejected. Not by Elaine, she was all for it. No, Dean was given his marching orders by Elaine’s mother. My grandmother.

He marched aboard a ship and sailed to Shanghai.

Actually, that’s not chronologically accurate. Dean and his broken heart didn’t quit Australia for China at once, not until 1947, the year I was born. During the intervening years, the war component of which he spent in the RAAF, he graduated to navigator of a de Havilland Mosquito DH98, made in Australia predominantly of balsa wood to fool radar. The Mosquito was a death trap. Too many pilots and navigators of Mosquito fighter-bombers met their premature end during training flights, from mishaps attributed to design shortcomings or to manufacturing errors. Dean, too, crash-landed, but survived. He complained of severe back pain for the rest of his life.

Flying Officer Dean Barrett became a war hero in New Guinea. He took off from Labuan as navigator aboard the first Australian-built Mosquito to fly a strike mission against a Japanese target in the south-west Pacific. It took place in the last week of the war.

Elaine married somebody else, my Uncle Stafford, a year after her mother had refused permission for her to marry Dean. He took it badly. He put his head down, qualified by means of a correspondence course as a chartered accountant, caught sight of a classified advert for a vacant position as the financial controller for the post-war rebuild in Shanghai of facilities owned by Calico Printers Association, ACTIL’s Manchester-based parent company (Tootal today). This group were the largest operators of cotton mills in the world, employing 7,000 people. Dean applied for the position and, being a war hero chartered accountant, landed it at the first interview. That’s when Dean Barrett finally did sail away in a shared cabin on a steamship bound for China ... lovelorn, leaving all behind, starting out all over again.

Theme music:

‘The Last Farewell’ (Roger Whittaker).



Dean was in Shanghai for nine years. Being sole bachelor in the company, after Mao took over he was asked to stay on and run things. Not until 1956, not until the People’s Court had bled his employers dry, could he secure an exit permit. He came to Hong Kong by sea, to discover that he was a well-off thirty-three-year-old. Calico Printers had continued to pay his salary and bonuses into a compound interest-bearing HSBC account all through his years of house arrest in Shanghai. He joined a company called China Engineers, who had been partner of sorts with Calico Printers in Shanghai, as financial director. During one lunch hour in 1961, on Ice House Street, he bumped into a senior board member of China Light & Power. CLP was in need of a chief accountant. Dean was recruited on the spot.

By the time I landed in Hong Kong in 1971, Dean Barrett - my uncle if not for that sliding door sent on its slide by the attack on Pearl Harbor, that sliding door that plunged him into premonition mode, that reduced him to such a disastrous eighteen-year-old state of mind that it butchered his pitch to my grandmother - was Joint Manager of China Light & Power. There were two. The other joint manager, Bill Donald, oversaw the engineering: generation, transmission and distribution, everything from the creation of power to the point of consumer connection, the man’s stuff. Dean was in command of all the mundane residue: accounting, finance, personnel and administration.

Bill Donald was destined to die before his time. Dean Barrett was destined to become managing director ... of a power utility that was itself destined to grow into Asia’s largest supplier of electricity.

Until China State Gas & Power Net came along, that is.


EPISODE 5

The Mammoth, the Mouse, and the Fox


Theme music: ‘Baby Elephant Walk’ (Hal Leonard Concert Band)



SCENE 28 -
Early May 2015, Melbourne CBD.


PAFC meets China State Net. The football club from Alberton meets the largest power corporation in the world. Postcode 5015 meets Beijing, capital city of the People’s Republic. The mouse meets the mammoth.

Setting:
Camera takes in a compact private room in a Chinese restaurant that could be any Chinese restaurant anywhere in the world including China. Standard decor, standard dragons, standard red perch, standard Guilin sugarloaf mountains in mist, standard round table, standard linen tablecloth, standard starched and folded linen napkins standing upright, standard rice bowls, chopsticks in pairs, standard lacquered rosewood chairs, standard pipa lute elevator music.


This is where it will take place, the initial nervous feeling-out lunch hosted by Dirk Struan IV, Chairman of EGSA. Guest of honour is Xiao Junxi, International Vice President of China State Net. The other guests are Xiao’s resident deputy whose name is Rong Qi (and whose English is good), Thorold Keene and Ugo Alsthom (who would later tell Lockhart Road that he could not make head nor tail of what was going on nor what PAFC hoped to get out of it). Also making her first appearance for PAFC is Primrose Yao. She emigrated from Guangdong to live and work in Adelaide. Her responsibility is to assist Keene and Alsthom with translation and to listen carefully to Xiao and Rong should they pass any messages to each other in putonghua.

The camera provides a fly-on-the-wall aspect of proceedings. It shows polite introductions being made, the ritual of gifts of no particular significance being exchanged. It shows Struan, as host, directing Xiao to sit on his right, Keene to sit on his left. It shows Rong taking the chair next to Keene, Alsthom the chair next to Rong, and Primrose the last chair, the one between Alsthom and Xiao.

It shows Keene handing an envelope to Xiao with a practised choreography, using both hands, and Xiao also using both hands to pass the envelope on to Rong to open, extract and read a one-page letter. The custom of employing both thumbs and index fingers in the passing of anything between two people is to show the receiver that the giver isn’t holding a dagger behind his back.

The camera closes in on the letter, focuses on the piping shrike monogram of the Premier of South Australia at the top of the page and Jay Weatherill’s inked autograph at the bottom. We see Rong nod, smile as if satisfied, tell Xiao what the Premier has written, slowly and deliberately refold the letter, slip it back in the envelope and slip the envelope into the pocket of his suit. Xiao Junxi looks pleased. The credentials of Port Adelaide Football Club have been established.

RONG: “Mr. Keene ... Mr. Alsthom ... Miss Yao ... We thank you so very much for today. Mr. Xiao invites you all to come to Beijing.”


SCENE 29 -
Beijing, first week of December 2015.


Thorold Keene is checking through his emails and text messages, looking for anything to do with China. He goes back a few months, reads again anything he’s received from Lockhart Road. There is well-intentioned wisdom and sound lessons in LR’s communications on China. He gets a bit short at times, but he gets to the point, too, something Keene wishes more people would do, sometimes. There is one lesson in particular that Keene reads again. At the time he first saw it, he suspected it might be a personal criticism. Now he knows if there is any criticism in it, it’s valid.

It is mentally impossible to stand before a microphone and convincingly sell China to a room full of people when you know ... and they suspect ... that you have not yet been there yourself.

Keene looks out the window next to him. The view of the landscape below, hazy as it is through air polluted with yellow dust off the Gobi, yet growing clearer as his airplane circles lower into its landing approach, is riveting. He notices there is something unusual about it, this landscape down there.

KEENE (to himself): “Why is there snow on the ground? It’s always been warm when I’ve come to Asia.”

He is wearing a short-sleeved PAFC polo top with no back-up. Nobody told him about winter in Beijing. He didn’t do his own research and nobody told him. Pru, his executive assistant, didn’t carry out the required research on his behalf and didn’t warn him to pack winter underwear, warm clothes and carry an overcoat. She might’ve thought of it, but there’s no proof of that. Such is Alberton, such is South Australia, and this is an example. Executive assistants in that neck of the woods are expected, are paid, to do just as they are told, or so it would appear, not to think beyond instructions they receive. Stepford wives they are not.

Keene looks for the Great Wall, sees it winding along ridgelines streaked with white, above valleys patched with white north of the city sprawl. He smiles at the sight, at the spectacle he’s finally seeing with his own eyes, wonders why it’s taken him so long to get his priorities in order and get up here.

He forgets about ambient temperature ... until he steps outside.


SCENE 30 -
Next morning.


Setting:
On the Great Wall of China, a restored section at Badaling.


Somebody has loaned Keene a padded parka. Nevertheless, he still shivers in the below-zero freeze. Yet he looks on impressed, he looks on in wonder, as the touring SAASTA students perform their haka, stripped down to footy gear in the snow on a stone and brick stage constructed by hand half a millennium ago to guard the Juyongguan Pass, the northern gateway to Beijing. (SAASTA = South Australian Aboriginal Sports Training Academy.) It’s made his long journey from Adelaide well worth it, that haka, even if nothing else is to eventuate while he’s in the Chinese capital. A News Corp. photographer clicks away staccato style with her Canon. The photos are destined for exposure in Australia’s weekend press.

KEENE: “May I have the best one of those blown up, framed and hung on the wall of my office? I want to look at it and remember this day forever.”

Notes:
It is Keene’s style to ‘go community’, to get down and dusty with the managers, teachers and students in the PAFC’s aboriginal and multi-cultural programmes and projects, to go bush with them, to unroll a sleeping bag on the ground and spend the night amongst them, to share the most basic of facilities with them.


It has earned him the nickname Kakadu Keene. Alternatively Camp-fire Keene. Alternatively Thatched-hut Thorold.

Alternatively ... Common-touch Keene.

He feels honoured every time he overhears one of those monikers. He loves to do what he does to earn them. Absolutely loves it, every bit of it.

He is the antithesis of Karl Krupp. Wouldn’t have it any other way.

It is Keene’s style to fly as far as he has, to northern China, to connect with this Indigenous student tour group, who are there as a reward for their academic performance during the past school year. Many have never before travelled beyond the precinct of their homes in the APY Lands. It’s Keene’s style to climb the tall stone steps of the Great Wall with them, to reward himself by watching them perform their specially choreographed haka. What other CEO of an AFL club would do that? What other CEO of an AFL club would climb up the China rabbit-hole, to the very top, and then climb higher to do such a thing? Whilst making it all seem so ... casual.

Thorold Keene thinks of Andrew Fagan ... and starts to laugh.

KEENE (to himself): “This is not a knock on you, Fages ....”

He grins at Ugo Alsthom, and the grin falls off his face.

There’s something wrong.

Notes:
Keene has noticed that a problem exists between Ugo and the PAFC Principal of Indigenous Programs who has taken command of the tour because he is a natural leader, one whom the students unanimously look up to. It hasn’t been hard to spot, this problem. Ugo’s hang-dog expression and irritated one-word conversation-stoppers give it away on the spot. Indeed it had flared up during the few days the SAASTA tour group spent in Hong Kong. Road and Robbins had picked up on it prior to and while watching from the sidelines of a SAASTA vs. Dragons short-format exhibition match on the HKFC main pitch. The game, by the way, was a cracker, with SAASTA a few points ahead at three-quarter time, drawing away only in the last quarter to win.


The two of them just do not get along, Keene recognises. The Principal has his turf clearly marked out, while Ugo has yet to identify whatever turf he can call his own, let alone mark it out and seek identity from inside the demarcation.

He hasn’t earnt it yet, Ugo. He hasn’t earnt turf of his own. He’s going to have to work harder to identify it, then work harder for longer to claim it, then work harder still for longer still to keep it.

Thorold Keene makes a mental note to keep a weather eye on the problem. He makes a second mental note to keep an open mind on what the solution might be. The China Strategy may well depend on it.

The China Strategy may well depend on finding that solution.


SCENE 31 -
That evening, Australian Embassy in Beijing.


Notes:
An Official Diplomatic Reception for the SAASTA tour group is being held in the Embassy function room. Keene has an appointment to meet Xiao Junxi there, but the China State Net VP International, a man perpetually in demand from all directions, has at the very last minute been diverted elsewhere. He’s sent two representatives in his place, to tell Keene and Alsthom that if he had been able to make it as he’d promised, Mr. Xiao would have worn the team-signed PAFC playing top that Keene had presented to him in the private room of the Chinese restaurant in Melbourne in May. That sounds encouraging, but it would’ve been rather un-Chinese of him.


Ugo Alsthom still can’t see or imagine what PAFC hopes to get out of this ... as Ambassador Frances Adamson (whose daughter has now been recruited on to PAFC’s China team) introduces him to nationally popular CCTV-5 anchorman and sportscaster, Zhang Bin.

Alsthom stands there. But there’s a difference. This time he’s not standing there being Ugo. This time something has hit him between the eyes. He’s recognised something. A bell has gone off in his head. Not the sort of bell that LR has to put up with every waking minute, a different sort of bell. A rumbling, rolling, emotive Big Ben.

This is, it registers with Ugo, his chance to start something of his own. This is his chance. Maybe even his Main Chance. This is his golden opportunity to put a stake in the ground. CCTV-5 is going to be his, the sign on that stake proclaims. Keep off my grass.

Ugo looks around the function room in the Australian Embassy. He looks over at Xiao Junxi’s representatives as they make polite chat with his boss, Thorold Keene. He looks at Zhang Bin, standing in front of him. He focuses upon Zhang Bin, the most popular TV sportscaster and anchorman in China, dispenses with small talk, starts to talk bigger ....

As Ugo talks ... the China drawcard for PAFC is growing in possibility in his quite intelligent head space. He studies the possibility, listens to what Zhang Bin has to say in reply in excellent English, and conjures up some exciting substance.

The attractions and justification for Ugo Alsthom to come back to China soon, not just to Hong Kong, or Shanghai, but also to Beijing, have taken on a real identity.

CCTV-5? Karl Krupp would roll his eyes in ecstacy, tell Australia about it, before it was ripe enough to do so, on his national TV show. Krupp would set up press and radio interviews, push up his personal ratings, start packing his bags for unqualified stardom ....

But was Ugo Alsthom going to tell Karl Krupp about this new development?

No effing way.
 
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SCENE 32 -
Last Thursday in February 2016, lunchtime.


Setting:
Dining Room, up the winding staircase of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Hong Kong, past the giant vintage movie poster covering the wall above the stairs and facing the front door. There can be no doubt that ‘Love is a Many-Splendored Thing’ has played a role in the FCC’s history.


Road is hosting lunch with Keene who has just done something incredible. He has signed a three-year partnership with Mr. Gui Guojie in Shanghai and been handed a seven-figure bank draft covering the first year, in advance.

Voice of Narrator:
How did Shanghai get in the story, you ask. Who’s this Mr. Gui (say Gwee)?


There have been different versions of what happened at that final ‘Before The Bounce’ chairman’s function for AFL season 2015 - which, by the way, did not go so well on the field. After making it to 3 and 2, the Power went into reverse, as Thorold Keene had feared, taking all the pre-season over-expectation with them ... and exposing internal disharmony at Alberton, in particular between the Senior Coach and the Chairman of the Board. The Senior Coach comes from the slow, quiet and rustic Planet Coach while, as we already know, the Chairman of the Board comes from the high-speed, noise-polluted and big-smoke Planet Krupp. And ne’er the twain shall meet.

Who exactly invited whom to that BTB? The opinions range from Karl Krupp being the mastermind who invited Gui, to whom he had prior access via his, the Kaiser’s, worldwide China contact network ... to Gui being one of six to eight Chinese billionaires alias ‘potato farmers’ officially invited by the SA Premier ... to Gui being undercover agent for the Chinese Ministry of State Security, the same mob who in December 1967 made off with Harold Holt in one of their submarines. The truth is this:
  1. Karl Krupp does not have a personal ‘worldwide China contact network’ and did not know Mr. Gui from Fu Manchu;
  2. The ‘potato farmers’ did not attend Adelaide Oval for round 23 versus Freo, they were there for an earlier match, versus GWS, when Brendon Ah Chee was awarded three Brownlow points;
  3. Mr. Gui is not an agent for the Chinese Ministry of State Security, he is only a common or garden member of the Chinese Communist Party;
  4. The invitation to BTB for Gui Guojie (say Gwee Gwor Jieh) and his small group of travelling companions was arranged by a lady called Loretta Lai, ANZ’s Asia Manager for WA and SA who had been handling Gui’s banking affairs, including during his bid for S. Kidman & Co. On a wall of Loretta’s office in Gouger Street there hangs a framed team-signed Power playing top.
  5. What inspired Loretta Lai to organise for Mr. Gui to bring his party to Adelaide Oval that day and have a party was PAFC’s China Strategy.
  6. Here was another example of a PAFC supporter, an ethnic Chinese one this time, volunteering a contribution to the cause, a contribution no-one else could make because it is, quite simply, too extraordinary. How do I know all this, especially 4. above? Robin Rockin’ Robbins. He, too, is a client of ANZ and Loretta Lai, and he, too, was invited to BTB round 23 and saw it all happen. In fact, he watched it happen with immense interest, read the body language of everybody, overheard bits of conversation, and knew that something separately important - something Shanghai - was up.

Theme music:

‘The Hustle’ (Van McCoy & The Shanghai Shoppers)



Notes:
It was a very excited Mr. Gui who blew like a tropical storm into the PAFC story that Saturday, 5 September 2015. He made no secret of his excitement. Loretta Lai introduced him to everybody she knew and everyone she didn’t. It mattered not who the faces belonged to, this was networking gone wild. They were both extrovert balls of energy, with the glint of profit in their eyes and the rosy sheen of a runaway win both on-field and off- exaggerating their cheekbones. Gui was extremely confident. He was extremely over-confident. He and his Shanghai consortium were going to snare Kidman with minimum pushback on the very first bid. The ladies in his travelling party, all close friends of his, made no secret of their obsession with going shopping the next day, made no secret of their disbelief when told that in the city of Adelaide the shops are closed on Sunday.


Ugo Alsthom was in and out of the McLachlan Room. His priority that day was to check on the competition between applicants for the position of putonghua-speaking game-day commentator for AFL matches being recorded for China viewing. He would subsequently make Mr. Gui his target, and would do a great job of strengthening the Club’s personal relationship with the Shanghai mogul. Of course, Mr. Gui would, just as diligently, no less cleverly, make Ugo Alsthom his own target, for business purposes. As is the norm for any Mr. Gui on foreign turf, having got to know someone with Ugo’s contacts, his guanxi, in both state and federal government circles, he would offer Ugo a job. Twice.

Mr. Gui, being from Shanghai, is sharp as a tack. He is ahead of the game. He watches a few minutes of the AFL match on Adelaide Oval, takes in the crowd and the atmosphere, instantly identifies Australian Football as the instrument by which he can create and build a unique, persuasive, business-friendly image for himself in Australia, and enhance his profile in Shanghai.

Gui’s is an artfulness of which any fox, any Shanghai fox, would be proud ... of which anyone else should be admiring yet dutifully wary.

KEENE: “He wants to have an AFL match played in Shanghai. For premiership points. No exhibition match, no pre-season match. The real McCoy.”
ROAD: “Wow.”
KEENE: “Yes. Wow. I don’t know how we’re going to accommodate him.”
ROAD: “This is for 2017? Next year?”
KEENE (nods, then asks one question): “Should we deal directly on this with Mr. Gui in Shanghai or should we work through Hong Kong?”


Road has only ordered a salad and a small draft Tsingtao. He does not want to be distracted by anything ... not eating, especially not drinking. Keene has put to him an important query. It’s fortunate for PAFC’s China Strategy that he has the answer, instantly.

ROAD: “You deal direct, Thorold. Mr. Gui is Shanghainese. Being Shanghainese he would never accept having anyone in between. He would lose face.”

Road then reminds Keene of another lesson he’d emailed to the PAFC CEO just before his first visit to China, to freezing Beijing, three months earlier:
In Beijing, Mr. Wong thinks of China first;
In Shanghai, Mr. Wong thinks of Shanghai first;
In Guangzhou, Mr. Wong thinks of Mr. Wong first.’


Road waits for more questions, but none come. He is surprised. He’s puzzled. Here is the CEO of PAFC seemingly in a state of positive shock, stupefied how fast this is happening, how he walked into Gui’s office to be presented on the spot with a signed contract and an advance payment ... Here is Thorold Keene, three short months after stepping upon mainland Chinese soil for the first time, having lunch with someone who has lived and worked in Hong Kong and China, who has travelled all over China at one time or other, for forty-four and a half years (that’s 534 months) who is as ready as a rented robot to do all that he can to help, all that he can to advise and advise well ... .

And there are no more questions?

Instead they discuss Ugo Alsthom. Keene admits he is concerned, that Ugo has a ‘people problem’, is holding his performance and himself back because of it.

ROAD: “Ugo and I are meeting here tonight for a meal and a chat. Down in the Main Bar. He adores the FCC. Loves the atmosphere of this place. Don’t worry, I’ll handle him with due care. He’ll be just fine.”

Voice of Narrator:

Remember in Episode 2 how I warned you that I was a pathological booby trap waiting to be set off? Well, that’s already happened. Twice. With Ugo’s appearance it was inevitable, just a matter of how soon, how often.

Ugo brought with him not merely his own shortcomings to arm-wrestle with mine, also not a lot of education on China relevant to the precise task that he’d been recruited to perform for PAFC. More perilous than that, so far as Ugo’s personal safety was concerned, he brought zero awareness of what sort of careless verbiage he should never, ever put in an email to me. As at June and July 2015, when the bombs went off, one after the other, he had done little or no research into the people side of the China adventure; not surprising when even the CEO who head-hunted him acknowledges that he puts ‘people’ quite low on his priority list. Ugo had done little or no research into me. Either no-one at Alberton warned him about me, or he hadn’t been paying attention when they did. Both are equally possible.

Business cards. That was what set off the first bomb. Not just the absence of business cards but Ugo’s knee-jerk ruling that both Robin and I were not qualified to carry such an item as a PAFC business card. I had asked for the printing of one to establish on sight, minus need for lengthy speechmaking or salesmanship, my minimal authority when networking on behalf of PAFC and the China Strategy, which I’d been guilty of co-launching and in which I’d been deeply involved now for two years. Ugo’s reaction time left the speed of light in its dust. ‘The people on the chairman’s advisory boards in Sydney and Melbourne don’t have business cards,’ quoth Ugo. ‘Why should you?’

Boom.

Email reply: Sent by LR, composed by Red Adair.

Volunteers versus salaried staff. That set off the second bomb. Gentlemen versus players. Amateurs versus pros. I had made a recommendation as to a certain course of action. This time quoth Ugo: ‘Leave the thinking and the decisions to those of us who are being paid to think and make decisions.’

Boom.

More Red Adair.

Ugo Alsthom’s probationary period, not by my assessment alone, had been a bit of a ... what did I call it earlier? A trial by trauma.

Time to sigh. Time to be pragmatic, to work with what you’ve got, not with what you wish you had. It was time to take my meds ... and make amends.

Notes:
Road has made it clear he believes in the infallibility of first impressions, based on his long experience in both giving them and getting them. But, it’s said, there is an exception to every rule. Perhaps Ugo is the exception to this one. But, how many times in his life has Road vouchsafed somebody the benefit of the doubt, only for the rule to re-assert supremacy over the exception? Every single time.


ROAD (to himself): “There’s always a first time ... even when I know damn well there isn’t. Okay, no choice but to put the test to the test.”


SCENE 33 -
That night, FCC Main Bar.


Setting:
A table outside the Bunker, a glassed-in and thus relatively soundproof section in the north-west corner of the bar where, by FCC law, Clare Hollingworth had a permanent reservation in her own armchair at her own table. She had been war correspondent for the Daily Telegraph who scooped the German invasion of Poland. She had been 28 when she spotted by accident Panzers massed on the border under camouflage, pointing at Warsaw. As at February 2016 Clare was 105. (She passed away a year later.)


Ugo Alsthom shows up for his test. He enters the Main Bar.

Road rises from the table, moves around it, closes in on Ugo and breaks the ice and almost Ugo, too, with a man hug. Way to go, LR. That wasn’t so hard, now was it. Hard as he could make it, in fact.

A couple of hours later, after a meal - vegetarian for Ugo and chili con carne for Road - washed down with several pints of draft Tsingtao.
ROAD: “Where would you like to go next?”


Ugo had arrived already floating after a reception at the Australian Consulate-General in Wanchai North. After that, on top of the progress he’s making with Zhang Bin and CCTV-5, plus the unexpected Gui Guojie bonanza in Shanghai, and then the unexpected man hug, he’s definitely in celebration mood.
ALSTHOM: “Anywhere you say.”


Road ponders a while. He knows what the situation calls for. Normally he would not hesitate, but Ugo is still ... different. LR has hesitated too long already, he knows. Dare he? But dare he not? Decision taken. Time has arrived for Ugo’s grass-roots education to begin. Time is ripe for the Wanchai No. 6 Tour.

Road calls for the bill, signs it, waves off Ugo’s attempt to pay.
ROAD: “Your money’s no good here. Members only. You shout the next venue.”
ALSTHOM: “Okay. Fine. Where are we going?”
ROAD: “You’ll know when we get there.”
ALSTHOM: “Okay. Fine.”


They leave the Main Bar, LR waves down a taxi outside The Fringe next door, tells the driver where to go in fluent taxi-driver Cantonese. The driver studies Ugo in the rearview as he makes the left off Lower Albert Road onto Garden Road and accelerates on to the flyover that curves east towards Wanchai. He nods to himself. Jun ge, the inured driver thinks. Definitely. Candidate for the No. 6 tour.


SCENE 34 -
Wanchai by night, latish.


Road escorts Ugo diagonally across Fenwick Street, heads towards Jaffe Road, studiously ignores the usual calls and enticements carried on the air from the usual suspects hovering outside the usual establishments, takes him straight at the soft, velvety, pricey underbelly of the ‘entertainment district’.

The Fire House.

Elbows on the bar in the far corner next to the part-owner cum DJ, the corner where the WTFRW hunkered down in a defensive circle that late night back in late April, circa ANZAC Centenary.

LR proceeds to read Ugo The Different the same old riot act that he’s updated and read out a hundred times before over the years.

ROAD: “I prefer this place because of the sound system. It’s been the best one of its type in Wanchai since 1990 when it first opened. I also prefer it because I’m well known here as a gu hon, a cheapskate. We won’t get hassled. I’m also known as Yim Jim, or Jimmy, short for yim jim seng mun ... a choosy bastard. Another reason they won’t waste their time with me. The elderly mamas have their name for me. Tung chi kwan. Boy Scout. Cute, straight ... and trustworthy. They learned long ago to leave me be, to let me tie my own knots.”
ALSTHOM (waving a hand): “What does your wife think about this?”
ROAD: “I brought her here one night, with a business visitor. Her business visitor; she imports seafood from Down Under, abalone mainly. She found this place, this business, too mundane, too boring. Didn’t even like the sound system.”
ALSTHOM: “So she’s fine with it?”
ROAD: “Told me never to bring her here again.”
ALSTHOM: “These girls. They’re professionals?”
ROAD: “Professional dancers. Filipinas. They are on six-month contracts to go up on that stage and dance. That see-through shower cubicle, they dance in there, too. But only if someone this side of the bar buys a drink that’s expensive enough. That’s not going to happen anytime soon as we’re the only customers here. It’s early. So you’ll have to use your imagination.”
ALSTHOM: “Okay.”
ROAD: “As for professionalism, these girls will also go out ... “
ALSTHOM: “Go out?”
ROAD: “Go out. From here. Escort. Customer has to pay a bar fine.”
ALSTHOM: “Bar fine?”
ROAD: “That’s what it’s called now. ‘Bar fine’ comes from Manila, Angeles City, etcetera. Back in the days before the imported dancers, back in the seventies, early eighties, when there were only local Chinese girls working the bars, including the topless bars of which there were a lot around here, it was called a ‘buy out’.”
ALSTHOM: “How much - ?”
ROAD: “Too much for somebody in your particular situation as at tonight. But don’t feel bad. I’m in exactly the same situation. It’s the buddy system. Used by the American sailors when a strike group comes in for a few nights - that still happens from time to time, depending on Beijing being sweet with it - and they invade the town. Never alone. One watching his buddy’s back. Any sailor found alone by the Shore Patrol is charged and taken back to his ship.”
ALSTHOM: “Buddy system. I like that.”
ROAD: “Don’t get carried away.”
ALSTHOM: “I promise.”
ROAD: “This the next item you need to know. Not just because we’re here, also because you’ll be walking through this district to get to your hotel in an hour or so ... or you can forego the exercise and take a taxi the couple of blocks.“
ALSTHOM: “Okay.”
ROAD: “Wanchai is controlled, below the surface, by four triad societies who divide the entertainment district between them. The Fourteen-K and Sun Yee On are the big ones, the Wo Shing Wo and Wo Hop Wo are the others. You will see a lot of tough looking Nepalese working in establishments as management and security. They are the go-between with the triads, the Nepalese, whose ancestors were here in the British Army as Gurkhas. Every successful business in the entertainment game here in Wanchai is part-owned by Nepalese, either on their own behalf or as a cover for one or all of the four triads, or both. The triads find that they fit comfortably with the Gurkhas, can work hand in glove with them, and vice-versa. Kindred spirits. Together, they quietly keep things under control. You don’t know the system is there, but get involved in a brawl, let alone start one, and you’ll find out. You’ll also look around and find that the police are absent.”
ALSTHOM: “Fascinating. Sounds like The Sopranos.”
ROAD: “More sophisticated. It’s just crowd control, not turf war. Nobody gets whacked.”


Ugo picks up the tab. Two bottles of Tsingtao, HK$288.00. LR leads the way directly across narrow Jaffe Road, says hi to the pair of Nepalese bouncers behind a lectern atop a flight of stairs under a sign that reads ‘Escapade’ and leads down to a curtain from behind which loud, very loud, music is coming. The Filipino band is at the far end of a long basement crammed with people. 90 per cent female, all twenty-something. Road and Ugo stand for a while just inside the curtain, where some conversation is possible, while LR gives a travelogue on this alien world they have stepped into. Ugo reacts with an impression of Henry Morton Stanley deep in the African jungle at the moment he happens upon a remote undiscovered tribe of what may or may not be humans.

ROAD: “To our left we have the Indonesians. Further on, past them, we have the Vietnamese, the Cambodians and the Laos. In the foreground we have the Colombians. Yes, Colombians ... Pablo Escobar et al. To the right we have the Filipinas and Thais. And over there in that far corner ... we have the Third Sex.”
ALSTHOM: “Third Sex?”
ROAD: “The Ladyboys.”
ALSTHOM: “This is a - “
ROAD: “Meat market, crudely put. This is a racket, voluntary human trafficking. All these are working girls, in town on fourteen-day tourist visas, managed by one or another legal agency, making money care of an illegal ticketing system on drinks that are bought for them ... and of course on what happens off-site.”
ALSTHOM: “All this is going on illegally?”
ROAD: “Only parts of it. Prostitution one on one is not illegal in Hong Kong. A third party getting in the act and ‘living off the earnings’, i.e. a pimp, is highly illegal. You look thirsty. Let’s get you a drink.”


Ugo is gobsmacked. He’d lived his life in semi-denial that a subculture like this might exist, never daring to delve below the surface. Now he had, a little, but only because Road knew what he was doing, knew exactly what he was risking with his student. Speaking of students, here was Ugo, holding a glass of blue-tinted Tanqueray and tonic with a twist and talking philosophy, psychology and physics with a foxy, well-dressed, not overly made-up university graduate from Jakarta. Her name, she said, was Jacinta. LR gives Ugo a thumbs up, all clear - nothing untoward in that considering that he, Road, paid for the drinks and was keeping an eye on the traffic.

Ugo is learning on the spot. LR watches the education taking place, as he knew it would. There’s no requirement for Ugo to do anything obvious, just observe, speak when it’s his turn, with respect, without innuendo, and learn. The world, Ugo is discovering care-of this tutorial that LR has tacked on to his field trip, is made up of multiple worlds rotating one inside the other, hoops or rings circling within hoops or rings, touching and moving on, brushing past then moving on ... living and letting live. Ugo isn’t actually a Buddhist, but he’s become enough of one to pick up on the basic rule set of the Orient.

Live and let live.
Look down on nobody.
If someone else happens to be standing on the turf in front of you, chances are they know more about that turf than you do. Heed what they have to say.


Voice of Narrator:
Kipling, with a little editing from the Americans in Vietnam, said it best:
‘Now it is not good for the Christian’s health to hustle the Asian brown,
For the Christian riles, and the Asian smiles and he weareth the Christian down;
And the end of the fight is a tombstone white with the name of the late deceased,
And the epitaph drear: “A fool lies here who tried to hustle the East.”’


Ugo Alsthom climbed the flight of steps on Jaffe Road and walked safely and thoughtfully back to the Renaissance, using the covered footbridge at O’Brien Road that took him over and across the freeway through Immigration Tower and then Central Plaza and into the Exhibition and Convention Centre complex of which his hotel was part. He walked with the body language of a suddenly wiser person, taking real note of other people around him who were also out this late, hopefully better qualified to perform the very special, very particular task that the PAFC China Strategy, a vital component of it, demanded of him.

Road stood below the footbridge hidden in the shadows cast by Wanchai neon, and watched Ugo until he had disappeared. Then he waited for a few minutes more, uncrossed his fingers and slipped into the back of a taxi. Road hadn’t been wary of Ugo getting mugged or even propositioned. At night, Hong Kong, Wanchai included, is probably the safest big city on the planet. No, Road just intended to make certain that Ugo did not double back and make the defining mistake of heading alone to the Fire House or, worse, the bigger, busier, more complicated honey trap called Escapade, never to be the same again.

Escapade, by the way, although close to being accurate, is not a real name.
 
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Thread starter #142
Theme music:

‘Pinetop’s Boogie’ (Tommy Dorsey & his Orchestra).



SCENE 35 -
Thursday morning, 14 April 2016, Shanghai.


Setting:
There is a prominent edifice with a landmark steepled green copper cupola that rises above the most photogenic T-junction in Asia: in Shanghai, where Nanjing Road connects to the Bund. In the glory days of the Paris of the East, the early 1930s, two hotels stood upon that junction on either side of Nanjing Road. They still do. The then brand-new ultra-impressive Cathay Hotel (known as Sassoon House on its lower floors) was on the north corner, still is, and the more elderly Palace Hotel was on the south corner, still is. Nowadays the Cathay Hotel goes by nomenclature that is much less romantic; it is the Fairmont Peace Hotel. The other, lesser, structure has become largely anonymous. It can be tracked down via guidebook indexes as Swatch Art Peace Hotel.


Today, Thursday, 14 April 2016, it will be the Cathay Hotel / Sassoon House (the original moniker to be given seniority in what will be as much a lesson in history as a news bulletin) on which the camera is focusing. The narrator explains why.

Voice of narrator:
Yet again, there is for me a coincidental nexus with the past. It is a personal connection, a love affair even, with that majestic building. Of innumerable things about Shanghai that I cherish, it is the Cathay that I adore the most. I have a relationship with it going back quite a distance. Thirty-five years.


From the first time I travelled on business to Shanghai in 1984, the Cathay Hotel was the place I went to after hours, no matter where in town I was staying. In the Jazz Bar off the north-west corner of the ground floor the most popular, the one and only, jazz band in China reproduced their Benny Goodman, their Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey and their Woody Herman from the band’s pre-revolution heyday when Sir Victor Sassoon’s HQ was town hall for the business suit community before dark and, after it, Mecca for the dinner jacket and evening gown set.

A couple of the musicians, in their dotage just about, still play there. By the time I’d made half a dozen business trips to Shanghai, I would walk into the Jazz Bar at about eight p.m., after dinner as Chinese dinners started at six, and the aged battlers, hard done by during the Cultural Revolution, hell of a misnomer as far as they were concerned, would give each other the signal and launch into ‘Tuxedo Junction’ or ‘Stompin’ at the Savoy’ or, sometimes, ‘Pinetop’s Boogie’. There I would sit for the remainder of the night, tapping feet, refueling on salted peanuts, and lubricating on canned Tsingtao beer. History, it was, in reprise mode, every time I showed up in Shanghai.

1553073827804.jpeg


I wasn’t there, however, when history, sports history, in enactment mode, was being made in the Cathay Hotel on Thursday morning, 14 April 2016.

The date does not have a positive track record. It’s responsible for the fatal shooting of Abe Lincoln, the collision between the Titanic and an unnamed iceberg coming in the opposite direction, and the resumption in 1946 of the civil war in China fought between the armies of Mao and someone who was shorter, smaller and came second - a consequence being that the Cathay Hotel and Sassoon House would be stripped of their nostalgic names.

It’s unimportant that I wasn’t on hand on Thursday morning, 14 April 2016. What’s important is that Ugo Alsthom was - Ugo Mark II, that is. He pulled off a major coup, brought together in the one room the CEO of PAFC (which by itself wasn’t so difficult for him), Mr. Gui Guojie (not so difficult either as Gui lives in Shanghai), and two superior beings from the Land of Oz (whose setting foot in China being arranged at about the same time proved, on an Olympic scale of difficulty, to be a 10) - the CEO of the Australian Football League, and whoever was, fleetingly, Prime Minister of Australia. On to the stage that morning, with Ugo playing the role of a polished emcee, stepped a surprise duet, a pair of pop-ups: Messrs. G. McLachlan and M. Turnbull.

Ugo’s connections with DFAT and his familiarity with pressure points, pivots and strings attached to government agendas, plus his adroitness in playing with the mechanism, until it set off the desired sort, size and sound of bells, had manufactured a stroke of unadulterated genius.

I still don’t know quite how he did it.

I still look back on it and shout softly to myself: “Bravo!”

1553073731382.jpeg


(Above): ‘China History In The Making’ reads the title of the certified legendary thread opened on the BigFooty Port Adelaide forum in honour of, and to report on, the signing of the first Memorandum of Understanding in sporting history to deliver an AFL match for premiership points to Shanghai in season 2017. At the time this photo was taken, neither Port Adelaide’s opponents nor the venue for the contest had been decided. Now that’s winging it. That’s modern Marco Polo style of adventure at work. That’s the quality of bravado that claims first prize in China, in Shanghai in particular. Getting in first, getting in full throttle, getting in with focus fixed ... that’s the style to employ en route to success at the long-range non-contact sport called China Strategy.

Notes:
Ugo has seized not only the day, he’s seized the date.


Thursday, 14 April 2016 will be his forever.

Ugo has seized his turf, too. He’s marked it out and pitched his marquee smack bang in the middle.

And he’s seized on the perfect name for Ugo’s turf.

Sports Diplomacy.


Voice of narrator:
In the 1930s a corporation known as Arnholds were ‘general managers’ of the mighty Cathay Hotel. Both the hotel and Arnhold & Co. were owned by Sir Victor Sassoon, entrepreneur and personality extraordinaire. Sassoons were rich and powerful, a Jewish corporate kingdom all across China, a ‘hong’ as influential as Jardine Matheson or Butterfield and Swire, or even HSBC.


Arnhold & Co. is the corporation - post-revolution version, what was left of Sassoons in Hong Kong - who hired me as a dogsbody in December 1971.

Arnhold & Co., 302 Holland House, 9 Ice House Street, Central District alias Victoria, Hong Kong, is the corporation for whom I soon established and ran an engineering sales division ... with Dean Barrett’s China Light & Power as my principal client.

Coincidence? Or omen? Good or bad? Triumph or disaster?

Kipling wrote in his ‘If’: Treat them both the same. Easier said than done.


SCENE 36 - Earlier that morning.

Setting:
Hong Kong International Airport, Chek Lap Kok: Thursday, 14 April 2016.


There was no question whether it was triumph or disaster for Karl Krupp.

Stuck in a plane stuck on the tarmac at Chek Lap Kok, Krupp sits by himself in abject frustration. He’s been stranded by an act of god, a tropical storm, while to the north-east, higher up the China Coast, international sports history, and diplomatic history, are made by Port Adelaide Football Club - short, sweet and swimmingly in Shanghai without him.

Expertly crafted, expertly choreographed and expertly carried off in the Cathay Hotel, Shanghai ... by Ugo The Different. Without him.

The gods have made the first promise Krupp gave as chairman come true. On his first day in the chair, 2nd October 2012, that digital palindrome, Krupp had guaranteed the press that he had no intention of being a high-profile chairman. Now the gods, the China gods, have conspired to hold him to his word.

https://www.adelaidenow.com.au/spor...a/news-story/94319aa6d5c0523a88017e413e2b00a7

But Karl Krupp wasn’t alone in a mismanagement of dealing with Port Adelaide in China during that week. Three days earlier, on Monday, via his regular ‘Touch of the Fumbles’ contribution to InDaily, Tom Richardson had got his anti-PAFC sarcasm confused with satirical talent ... and had himself come a cropper care-of release of the big news from Shanghai just 72 hours later.

https://indaily.com.au/sport/touch-...e-fumbles-the-china-syndrome-vs-ewing-theory/

Ironically, InDaily is today, that’s three years later, a ‘partner’ of PAFC’s China ‘program’ ... such as it is, and whatever that means.

Theme music:

‘Dock of the Bay’ (Otis Redding)



On Friday, 15 April 2016, the press have come to the PAFC Chairman’s rescue. It turns out that he’d been pen-in-hand at the Memorandum of Understanding signing ceremony after all. The UK Daily Mail On-line joined in the boistrous media party, by channelling the ABC and publishing a caption, quoted below, under this Reuters photograph taken in the Cathay Hotel the day before:

1553073886242.jpeg


“ (From left) Gillon McLachlan, CEO of Australia Football League, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Gui Guojie, general manager of Shanghai CRED Real Estate Stock, and (the) chairman of Port Adelaide Football Club, were there to announce the deal in Shanghai on Thursday. “

Voice of narrator: And if you find that hard to believe, click on this:

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/ar...ortium-trying-buy-Kidman-cattle-stations.html


Next: Episode 6 - THE ALBERTON PAPERS - March 2017 - March 2018
  • Premier Li! Premier Li! Who the hell is Premier Li?
  • A one Hong Kong dollar investment, and a dividend impossible to fully value.
  • They’re back! China State Net want to come to the AFL in Shanghai.
  • Manoevres at a gala dinner in Shanghai, Paris of the East, modern Manhattan of China.
  • International sporting history is crafted at ‘boutique’ Jiangwan Stadium.
  • Come December on North Terrace, a nude cricket bat hits the sweet spot.
  • “By the end of the month you both could be the heroes of Alberton.”

—————————————
 
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Thread starter #145
Thank you.

At work on Episode 6 and 7. Editing going on. Words, lines, paragraphs being delisted. New words lines paragraphs being recruited, traded in, drafted. I think it might be called a rebuild.

Am looking forward to Episode 8 - The Epilogue ... when Alberton morphs into Utopia.
 

Tibbs

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Thank you.

At work on Episode 6 and 7. Editing going on. Words, lines, paragraphs being delisted. New words lines paragraphs being recruited, traded in, drafted. I think it might be called a rebuild.

Am looking forward to Episode 8 - The Epilogue ... when Alberton morphs into Utopia.
LOL ... Sounds more like a renovation to me!;)
 

Sleezy

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—————————————


UP THE CHINA RABBIT-HOLE - The TV Docudrama Series (Episode 3: ‘Brunetti’).


Voice of Narrator:

The best laid plans ... of mice and men ...
Will go to shit no if nor but ... just when.



EPISODE 3

Brunetti


Theme music:

‘Breakfast At Tiffany’s’ (Deep Blue Something)



SCENE 14 -
Early next morning, Tuesday, 24 February 2015.


Breakfast meeting, make that intended breakfast meeting, Melbourne CBD. Scene is Brunetti just off Collins Street, a short walk from the Novotel. It has an outdoor section and an indoor section. Ander has arrived on time and, thinking he is first arrivee, has taken a table inside. A minute later Keene has arrived, and because he doesn’t know Ander by sight, takes a table outside. They both sit where they are, inadvertently apart, each waiting for the other, also waiting for Road and Robbins who are already running ten minutes late, their taxi a victim of traffic and roadworks on Punt Road. It’s all Road’s fault.

ROBBINS (not for the first time): “This is all your fault.”
ROAD: “I’m a pig - “
ROBBINS: “No-one’s disputing that, LR.”
ROAD: “I was born in the Year of the Pig, the twelfth and last year in the cycle. When the Lord Buddha summoned all the animals and rewarded the first twelve to show up, gave each animal a year in its own name in the order they arrived, the pig was twelfth. He was last of the dozen to front up. He overslept.”
ROBBINS: “I’m a pig, too. I didn’t oversleep.”
ROAD: “You’re the Young Pig. I’m the Old Pig. I’m a Fire Pig - “
ROBBINS: “It shows.”
ROAD: “And you’re a Gold Pig. You’re a running dog capitalist fund manager. You’re greedy and grasping and get up early because you can’t sleep with all that ready money and all those givers out there. I’m a Fire Pig. I lie in bed warm, contented and free of any conscience for as long as I feel like lying in bed.”
ROBBINS: “How much sleep did you really get last night.”
ROAD: “Nary a wink.”


The taxi gets moving. Robbins looks at his watch. Road pulls his Nokia C2-01 2011 vintage out of his Calvin Kleins and checks the time; he does not wear a watch. He used to wear a vintage Rolex, got it bargain basement via his father-in-law’s deceased estate, but his wrist has grown too fleshy for the band; the watch lies on his bedside table, hidden under debris, waiting for him to find it and loosen the band. It stopped months ago. Road has grown accustomed to no longer having the deadweight of a Rolex on his left wrist and automatically starts each day without it.

Unseen ahead, amongst the concrete jungle, just off Collins Street at their CBD destination, Daryl Ander sits inside Brunetti checking his watch. Thorold Keene sits outside Brunetti checking his watch.

The breakfast meeting that Road has organised to set in motion what he calls, in a hushed voice, the China State Net Strategy, is stuck in the starting gate.


SCENE 15 -
At Brunetti, another ten minutes later.


Notes for director:
Camera provides an aerial view from directly above the table at which Keene is sitting outside Brunetti. Road and Robbins finally appear, take two of the three empty chairs. Greetings and handshakes. Questions asked. Puzzled looks in all directions. Phones appear. Robbins stands, trots inside, comes out moments later with Daryl Ander in tow. More greetings and handshakes. Now every one of the four chairs is filled. Twenty-plus minutes behind schedule.


Road is the only one to actually order breakfast at the breakfast meeting. The rest have coffee. Road orders eggs benedict. He is starved. Hasn’t slept, took too long in the shower, has not eaten; has to wing it through another day, would have no doubts, if asked, about his ability to do just that.

Narrator takes over. His commentary on the dialogue of the one-hour ground-breaking meeting at Brunetti is only interrupted when one of the four makes an outstanding comment, and the camera drops into a close-up to catch it.

Voice of Narrator:
Now what’s this all about, you might still be asking. Why is this meeting and these particular four fine fellows taking part in it so important? I shall try to keep it simple at this early stage. This is PAFC hatching a plot to establish contact, for its own ultimate serious benefit, with the People’s Republic of China - at just about the highest state-owned industrial level that exists in the public eye. Got that? Let’s see how they go about it.


Thorold Keene is talking first. He’s picked up the gauntlet. He’s telling Daryl Ander about PAFC community programmes and projects. He makes a good pitch, as he did at the Hong Kong Football Club in May last year, at PAFC’s inaugural international business luncheon. So professional was the CEO’s pitch that it impressed two hard-nosed heard-it-all directors of China Light & Power who were guests at my table. It worked then. What are the odds it’ll work again? Shorter this time, in fact. Keene is selling to the sold. Ander already knows all about it ... and loves it.

Aerial camera pans in on Thorold Keene.
KEENE: “ ... and this is the sort of community opportunity we established Power Community Limited for ... and staffed it with the best Indigenous teachers and past Indigenous footballers we could recruit ... and ... “
Camera switches to Ander, sitting quietly, listening politely.
ANDER: “Yes. I’ve read up on it.”
Camera back to Keene, who has lost his line of pitch, perhaps run out of pitch.
KEENE: “Yes ... well ... that’s wonderful ... “
ANDER: “I was impressed with what I read.”
KEENE: “Yes ... it’s very - “
Camera switches to Road who leans forward, has decided the time is right for him to step in, to cut to the chase.
ROAD: “Daryl, our objective is for the PAFC community strategy, the best in the AFL, perhaps the best of any national sporting club, to be extended to China - through partnerships both here in Australia and in China itself. Robin has told me that you, Daryl, may have a suggestion as to how that might be achieved ... involving someone like China State Net.”


Keene has imperceptibly shifted in his chair, away from Road, yielding the floor so to speak, giving Road the space he needs. Road’s aim is not to be rude, not to be seen to come in over the top of the PAFC CEO in front of their guest. But something had to be done. He couldn’t just sit there while the clock ticked. LR is concerned that his lateness has put dangerous time pressure on the meeting and this is how he can make up for it, by cutting short the preliminaries. He also knows Ander will welcome his intervention, was probably expecting it. The eggs benedict have given Road the fuel and fire he needed to take up point position at some interval during the meeting. He’s done that, whilst accepting the risk of making it obvious.

Camera switches to Ander as, picking his words carefully, aware of sensitivities, he begins his response to Road’s very direct, very welcome question. He’s been told that fitting the word ‘meaningful’ in somewhere will sit well with Keene, and to emphasise ‘community’ as much as it fits in, and then some.

‘Community’ is at present Excalibur when selling to Thorold Keene. Later, four years later, it will become, ironically, the CEO’s potential Achilles heel in China.

ANDER: “Thanks, LR. Yes ... we’re here, I understand, to brainstorm China and Port Adelaide Football Club getting together in a ... meaningful way ... starting with a worthwhile project involving ... community. We’re here to discuss what our first step might be towards achieving that ... “

Aerial camera takes over. We’re back to a screen with all four heads around a table, balding pates looking straight up.

Voice of Narrator:
Who is this bloke? Who is Daryl Ander? You know by now who I am, and you know who Thorold Keene is. But you don’t really know yet who Ander is and, for that matter, you don’t really know who Robin Rockin’ Robbins is. This is an appropriate moment for you to find out.


Daryl Ander is the CEO of Ten-66 Funds Management. They are eighty per cent owned by one of the Big Four banks down here, who leave them alone, let them get on with making a lot of money out of projects Ten-66 identify to be worth investing in. Big projects. Big infrastructure projects. Lately, for several years make that, infrastructure projects in Australia have attracted the attention of State Owned Enterprises from China. One such project was the break-up and sale of the ETSA monopoly in South Australia. The break-up meant that the Transmission Network, operating at UHV and EHV, was hived off. The successful bidder was a consortium of three entities. China State Gas & Power Net was consortium leader; it now owns 46.5 per cent. The Malaysians are a partner with one-third ownership. The remainder, just under twenty per cent, sits profitably in the investment portfolios of Ten-66 Funds Management. What used to be the transmission operation of ETSA is today eighty per cent China-Malaysia owned and answers to the call of a similar acronym: EGSA. That’s Electricity Grid of South Australia.

So, you see, Daryl Ander is the CEO of the corporation that is a partner in EGSA with China State Net. He thus knows both corporations well, works with them on a daily basis. He knows the chairman and the EGSA board members, three of whom are appointed by China State Net. Daryl Ander is a passionate member of the Port Adelaide Football Club. Now do you know who he is, and why he is one of the four blokes down there, sitting around that table outside Brunetti, talking China Strategy, talking history in the making?

What about Rockin’ Robbins? We’ve become good mates, so I know a bit about him. He’s from Unley. In the eighties he was in Tokyo, managing part of an Australian bank branch there. In 1989 he moved to Hong Kong. Not the most comfortable year to do so; it was the year of Tiananmen Square. That, obviously, did not put him off. He started his own fund management operation and opened an office in what used to be called Gammon House but is now Bank of America Tower. We met right after the PAFC Business Luncheon staged at the HKFC in May 2014. He missed it, was in Beijing on business. He emailed PAFC and told them he was so sorry to have missed it, was a passionate member and was available and willing to help the Club with its China Strategy. Rick Mattinson put him on to me.

Now do you know who Robin Rockin’ Robbins is, and why he is one of the four blokes down there, sitting around that table outside Brunetti talking China? Okay, say you, but where did he get the nickname of ‘Rockin’? He doesn’t look like a dancin’ man, right? He looks softly-spoken, reserved, a quiet achiever, noiseless even. Well, Robin’s priority task in the PAFC China Strategy, I often remind him, and he always agrees, is to keep me under control. Of the pair of us he is the foil to my thrust. He is the Felix Unger to my Oscar Madison. He calls the tune, I slow dance to it. Provided I’ve had my medication. Therefore, elimentarily, I have named him ‘Rockin’. He will call me Fred Astaire ... or Red Adair if I haven’t had my medication and it shows. It’s a code we have, to keep me under control.

Rockin’ Robbins has taught me one very important trick. He learnt it during his time in Tokyo. The Japanese never sit down for a meeting until all those invited are privately briefed and their agreement to the outcome is secured in advance. The Japanese call it nemawashi. Robin has used this trick on that meeting down there - well, on three of the four gentlemen at the table. He hadn’t been able to get to Thorold Keene, doesn’t know him well enough to try. Three out of four, however, should be enough to do the trick, which Lockhart Road - that’s me, remember - calls ‘never washy’ not nemawashi. It’s imperative that, as far as the PAFC China Strategy is concerned, at the meeting going on outside Brunetti, the never washy washes well.

Camera zooms in on Ander as he approaches his punch line:
ANDER: “So, in the absence at this stage of a Chinese billionaire benefactor ... we go after the best available alternative, and that’s a partnership with China State Net that will open an alternative revenue stream for Port Adelaide. I can’t sell it to them. I’m too close to them. It will interfere with my independent status in their eyes. It’s up to you three.”
ROAD: “There is no co-operation without mutual benefit.”
ROBBINS: “Who said that?”
ROAD: “My first employer in Hong Kong. He taught me a thing or two.”
ANDER: “It’s right. You have to prove to them that they’re in need of you, that you’re worth entering into a special partnership with, that you are in a position to do something necessary for them that nobody else can ... before they think of asking somebody else.”
ROAD: “Communications.”
ROBBINS: “Communications.”
ANDER: “Communications.”
KEENE (thoughtfully): “And community.”
ROAD: “We’re just in need of an introduction, Daryl. If that’s possible. We’ll take it from there.”


Aerial camera shows Ander check his watch and stand up. He and Keene walk inside Brunetti together, equally determined to pick up the tab. They reappear outside, the debt obviously very amicably settled. After handshakes all round, Ander leaves. Keene resumes his seat. Camera pans in, close-up on Keene.

Thorold Keene rests on his elbows on the table, hunches his shoulders, casts a meaningful look at Robbins, then at Road. He nods slowly. In his eyes there is a real and deep gratitude.

KEENE (softly, sincerely, with emphasis): “My ... ambassadors ... “

Road and Robbins exchange their own looks. Their day has been made.

Later Keene will describe the meeting in an email: ‘Four passionate Port tragics sitting together early one morning in Melbourne, talking together about footy and how they can all work together to achieve great goals for their club. Still hard to take in all the possibilities. Simply fantastic. Sincerely fantastic.

Theme music:

‘Sincerely’ (The Forester Sisters)

I love footy
 
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Thread starter #150
So do I.

Funny thing is ... I’m sitting, as we speak, in Pro Drinkers Corner working on Episode 6.

It’s overdue, I know, so I’ll be posting half of it tomorrow, hopefully ... the rest to follow.

I’d promised to copy the first (Vietnam) segment of Episode 4 into the Peter Chant thread yesterday, the sixth anniversary of the thread’s creation ( Ford Fairlane ) but wasn’t in the mood. Maybe tomorrow, too.

I love footy too much. It runs ... ruins, at times ... my life.
 
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