Entertaining VIP’s

One of my more time consuming jobs in the Bank where no credit was given, was the looking after VIP’s when they passed through, or were taking a vacation in our town. Many were not problem but a pleasure. Others proved to be the most difficult, and irascible people, that God ever put breath into. One stood out, and he would head the list of the most ornery people I had ever met and tried to assist. While preparing for his visit, I must have spent three months writing to his Secretary, putting together an itinerary for his vacation. I met him at the Airport, and after gathering all his personal effects that he had left on the plane, I drove him to his Hotel. It was obvious he had been drinking to excess, but no one from Head Office had given me any inkling that this VIP who had close connections to the Royal Family, was a practicing alcoholic. After showing him into his Hotel Suite, he took out my itinerary and declared. ‘I would now like to make a few last minute changes to this’. and with a flourish proceeded to alter nearly everything listed with a red pen. I quickly responded, ‘Look I’m very sorry to say this, but that can’t be done’. ‘These proposed visits to the back country that you are changing, are all personal friends of mine’. ‘They are taking time off from their busy schedules, as a favour to you and me’. ‘I’m unable to shift around the timing of the various visits as these people all live in very isolated places, I’m unable contact them at such short notice. But please feel free to cancel anything and everything that’s not your wish, but you can’t change any advised visit. He then proceeded to alter the times on scheduled trips, on things like the Shotover Jet, which ran on the hour and every hour.

 

I had taken along a generous supply of liquor to give to the Station owner when we visited Mt Nicholas’s. I had trained with this owner, when we were both young pilots in the Air Force, and I was taking advantage of this. He and my VIP got on very well, and I was pleased to find out that he had a very good knowledge of beef breeding programs being carried out in the UK. However he imbibed too freely on our visit, and on our return we put the VIP to bed with the ‘Flu’. I was very relieved when I finally put him onto his plane again and passed on my obligation to someone else. Later I was talking to the Dunedin manager who confessed that he was close to a nervous breakdown with the antics of our visitor. I said I would have joined him in the breakdown department had I allowed him do what he proposed. With this entertainment I never got any idea of a definitive budget, in what I was expected to spend on these people. When I inquired from the General Manager, could he give me some idea of what I could spend. He replied. ‘Have you ever been turned down when you submitted your expenses’? ‘No’? ‘Well then you must be doing it right’. I remember another visit by a General Manager from an Australian Bank. He had expressed an interest to go Gold Mining, seeing that I had received a message, ‘Look after this guest well. He is very Special to us’. So before we went mining and fossicking, to help things along, I bought an ounce of gold from a local miner. He quickly got very excited with his skill in panning. It was clear too he was enjoying his day in the outback. It was dark before he would quit. He said he couldn’t understand why I was still working in the Bank, when it was so easy to dig up gold. I explained, while it was true that there were still odd places in our rivers that had been missed by the early miners, it looked as though he had been lucky and stumbled onto one. I remember too that one day I took out the Montagnat Family who were miners from New Caledonia. I knew in this case I would have to be a little more subtle, to see that they had successful day out. I received permission through my ‘brother in law’ to take them onto an actual Gold Mine. Their father Georges watched me like a hawk, to prevent I imagine to prevent any ’salting’. He proceeded to quarter out the ‘ground’, and sampled the whole area. When he proved what I already knew there was gold for the digging. They set about mining in earnest, and they all recovered a small amount of gold. A brother set about mining in a different manner. He had obtained several rubbish bags which he filled with about half a ton of ‘pay dirt’ which he then processed at home for the rest of his holiday in New Zealand.

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