Chapter 12 ......Terms of Endearment

To quote from a Paul Weston article written in the (now defunct) Brisbane SUN a fortnight before the meeting, Max Christmas had slammed the idea of anyone opposing Japanese ownership in Australia. They will be he said “a bunch of knockers. All they are doing is picking on these people. “
What else could he say; after all didn’t this strike at the lucrative part of his business clientele? It was a natural reaction, the response from anyone who saw their job, their livelihood or their home threatened. For Max Christmas that threat was a serious reduction in his income, in other words Christmas in a broad sense was concerned for Christmas. For the ‘knockers’ their perspective was a little different. Men had given their lives, defending this land for their children only to have enterprising businessmen trade that legacy for what many saw ‘as a few miserable dollars’. Entrepreneurs tended to canvas a thousand reasons why selling our real estate, was beneficial to the nation, but the fact remains that in selling any asset, you lose control of it. True in isolation, the small picture is insignificant, but with everyone adopting that insular attitude the greater picture presented problems. Whiteside, like Christmas, was looking after his interests... the difference was that his concern, were without material benefit. Unwittingly Christmas only fired my resolve by these comments. He did it also in another way, albeit totally removed from the campaign I had set out upon. In those days Max and his wife lived in the penthouse at the Yachting Towers complex. A friend of mine who I occasionally worked for had the job of wallpapering the common vestibule area, where the lifts open onto the floor foyers. We had the job of wallpapering it, an unusual departure because most common areas are uniform throughout high-rise buildings. From the outset, the job created problems. In a country where wallpaper is something of a novelty, painters often took on the role of ‘paperhangers- and would , through lack of trade knowledge, hang wallpaper on any surface they were asked. Tradesmen who had immigrated from countries like Germany, Britain, New Zealand and to a lesser extent, the southern cities, had for the most part served what used to be called ‘apprenticeships’. They knew full well that certain surfaces, did not lend themselves to successful wallpapering. One of these is wooden float finished render. Try to place foil over that and those who know what I am talking about will understand what we were up against. I would not have hung it and said so, but I was asked to never-the-less. The young Mrs Christmas wanted that particular foil and that was that. We tried all sorts of adhesive, in a fruitless attempt to secure the foil. After a fashion we succeeded, but the thing that made me angry was that despite professional advice, it was expected that money could achieve anything. And of course it could have. Had the render been given a coat of Keane’s cement, sized, lined sized again and then wallpapered, the job could have been done properly. But that sort of cost was not understood, in the context of ‘just papering the walls’. As it happens in forty years of wallpapering, those eight rolls at a cost of $1560, were a record that I felt was little short of disgusting. One roll of wallpaper, would have supported a struggling family for a week. Not every family of course was selling their countries heritage to the lucrative Japanese. Oh yes it rankled, but then it was a matter of perspective. Niggling, perhaps, but it did nothing to endear me to the man who had told us that the Japanese were here to stay and that we the people had better get used to the idea. Some like myself were not about to.

Chapter 13