The Jargon of the Politicians
Donald Chipp, a handsome, dark-haired young man with a flair for putting his guests at ease, asked if there was something he could do to help me.
I stated my case and he let me go on for some time, attentively listening to every word I said about the war brides’ dilemma. I asked if he could persuade the airline to reconsider the four-way charter.
Unfortunately, he was unable to help in that particular area; but he did want to hear more about my lectures in the States. In the meantime, he had a tray of tea, coffee and biscuits brought in and invited three other gentlemen to join us. I was flattered at all the attention. They urged me to tell them the kind of questions the American public asked about Australia during my talks.
“Look, gentlemen, the Americans know practically nothing about Australia. I was asked what language I spoke, and some were even surprised that I was white. Others asked what it was like in Austria, and did the kangaroos really deliver the mail? You know, our Australian airmen were the ones who spread those ugly rumors, about kangaroos during the war when they were stationed in Canada and the United States learning to fly our aircraft. They were poor ambassadors.”
I continued to relate a few of the more hilarious occurrences.
Mr Chipp picked up the phone, held it aside and spoke to a staff member before he made a call. “I believe Mr. Constable should hear what Mrs Frost has to say, don’t you agree? Would you be willing to go see Mr Constable at the Australian Tourist Bureau today, Mrs. Frost? I think he might be of some help to you.” He turned to me while still holding the phone. I nodded in the affirmative. “Would 12 o’clock suit you, Mrs. Frost?” I agreed to meet the gentleman at the Tourist office at the appointed hour; at the same time I wondered what had happened to the help I was seeking for the war brides!
“Are there any suggestions you could make to get Americans more interested in Australia? May I call you Ruth?” Mr Chipp inquired.
“By all means, call me Ruth, that’s my name. And, Don, I believe you haven’t even tapped the best resource - our young people, both here in Australia and in the States.”
“What do you mean by that Ruth?”
“If Australian students could exchange places with American students and lived with families in each other’s countries while they studied, that would be the best way for two countries to get to know each other. I don’t think we give enough credit to our young people.”
“That’s a great idea!” he enthused. “Don’t forget to mention that to Mr. Constable when you see him.”
With plenty of time for a leisurely stroll up Collins Street, I was thinking about what had transpired in Mr. Chipp’s office, and the adulation heaped on me for the wonderful job I was doing to help promote Australia in the States. Yes! The penny dropped soon after I left Mr. Chipp’s office! I had been given a good old-fashioned run-around. I had been conned!
I wasn’t going to get any help from any of them for a charter plane, or my lectures. They were picking my brains for ideas to help their political cause, not mine. I was ready for my next meeting and I was going to look out for number one.
“Please sit down Mrs Frost.” Mr Constable replaced the phone in the cradle. “That was Don Chipp on the phone singing your praises. Now, tell me all about the way you are promoting Australia in the States!”
“Mr Constable, I have several other appointments so this meeting will need to be brief. First, let me ask you; can you be of any help to me so that I can expand my lecture tour to reach more people? Or can you help me get a charter plane for Australian girls?”
“I must say you are doing an excellent job, Mrs Frost, but we have already gone over budget for the year and here it is, only March! I want to hear more about your ideas on using our young people.” He turned to his secretary, suggesting ‘a cup of tea for Mrs. Frost’.
I got up to leave. “Another cup of tea will not pacify me, Mr Constable. Besides, my bottom teeth are under water.” I looked at my watch with some urgency.
“Mrs. Frost, there is so much I would like to discuss with you. How about some lunch? We could pop across the street to the Occidental.”
“Thank you for your offer, but I am already late for my luncheon engagement.” I thought it unwise to belittle myself by mentioning that I was having homemade sandwiches for lunch on the banks of the Yarra with my cousin Len.
As I had taken care of the important business during the first three days, I made up my mind that it was useless getting depressed about the disappointing turn of events. From now on I was going to enjoy this visit. When Don Chipp or Mr. Constable phoned, I was never available.
Auntie Lila became my private secretary and tried to talk real posh when she answered the phone. From exposing her micro-world to the thrill of my meeting the film stars from Gigi, and then chatting to politicians, she was in a continuous state of excitement. She was up and down the street broadcasting to one and all!