Barnaby Joyce July 19, 2012
I have one good suit that I use when needing to present myself on your behalf in the best light. I bought it on sale in Perth and it is with me in New York and was heading off to the White House next week.
It is an old faithful but I had noticed it was getting slightly thread bare, as is the case with fine wool suits before you would otherwise expect.
Anyway I am five dollars trying to be 10 as I go to the major finance houses working out how I can refine the Infrastructure Partnership Scheme that I wrote for the Coalition, based loosely on US Municipal Bonds.
The Americans have been very hospitable but last week it came unstuck in quite a spectacular way.
While getting into a cab on the way to a meeting with a New York banker I heard that sinking tear noise emanating from my strides with a new fresh breezy free feeling. I knew I was in real strife.
With hope beyond logic I exited the cab near Wall Street and asked my wife how I looked. Borrowing from the local colloquialism she said ''nasty''. She also informed me that I was wearing red grundies. I desperately asked where the nearest David Jones was and was informed that it was not on that end of town and with my appointment in 10 minutes we would have to improvise.
My wife told me that if I could plan to stay seated I should be able to minimise the impact. I had to get into the bank so I placed my Australian American Leadership Dialogue satchel behind me. My wife told me that this did not cover the problem and was merely drawing attention to it.
To say banks in the US around Wall Street are security conscious would be a little of an understatement, so asking my wife to cover for me and looking like we were hiding something was probably not a good move.
I approached the good lady at the security counter stuttering and murmuring and interjecting on every second phrase with ''do you have bathroom nearby''. She was switching her gaze between me and the shorter lady with an olive complexion standing in my back pocket peering over my left shoulder. I was under the pump and she was picking up on the vibe.
I was getting the names wrong of who I needed to see, so the diligent Cerberus asked for and held my licence then directed me to a lounge. My wife reverted to her maternal training and suggested a safety pin may be a good temporary mitigant. She went down stairs to see what she could dig up. In true New York style they wanted to charge her for it - 10 cents - she only had a $5 note.
Now after returning from the bathroom I looked liked and felt like I was wearing a nappy and this was certainly not the image I wanted to portray to the prince of business I was expecting to soon meet. He never arrived. An Indian gentleman, probably no. 276 IC, came forward to my lounge. I imagine the security lady had given him a heads up that there was a madman/terrorist in the lobby.
I now went to plan B; let's get the hell out of here. It was at this point that the Australian Consulate official, David, arrived. Now we had a stuttering man in a nappy trying to leave, a consulate official new to the story admonishing an Indian gentleman about an appointment that he insists they take with their senior manager and a security lady about to call the National Guard.
The Indian gentleman was starting to believe the consulate official that I was not a madman off the street and this was very bad news as the safety pin in my strides had just opened. Things could not get much worse but they did when he asked me to hand him my business card.
If there is a parable that comes from this experience it would be the realisation that our perception of ourselves is rarely the perception of others. As a country that is remote from Europe and America we are rarely in the minds of Europeans and Americans, maybe we don't want to be. It can be daunting when we arrive at this epiphany.
Barnaby Joyce is the Nationals' Senate leader and the Opposition spokesman on regional development, local government and water.