Thursday, 17 April 2014

A three thousand dollar bottle of wine

is surely something most people would remember being given as a gift?  I think I would - well, I know I would because I wouldn't drink it. I don't drink alcohol.
The Premier of New South Wales, Barry O'Farrell, is about to hand in his resignation over a bottle of wine he was given. It was apparently a very special bottle of wine - Grange 1959 if that means anything to you. It means nothing to me.
He could not recall being given it - although a "thankyou" note, handwritten by him, has apparently turned up. It is that note I find that interesting.
Do you keep that sort of correspondence? I don't think I would. There was other documentation which showed the wine had been bought. There was documentation showing a delivery had been made to the Premier's home. So, why keep the note? Did someone just fail to throw it away?
The note delivery documentation does not state what sort of wine was delivered. The note of thanks does not state what sort of wine was received. Was it actually that bottle of wine - or was it something else?
Why was the matter raised at the Independent Commission Against Corruption? There was no evidence of any wrong doing surrounding the gift - or indeed of any wrong doing at all. The Premier has resigned simply because he could not remember receiving the wine and said that in previous evidence. He corrected his evidence, apologised - and then announced that he would be tendering his resignation.
Yes, you could get into conspiracy theories here. I have no idea what the situation actually is. I know nothing about the wine or those involved. I don't want to know.
What I do know is that it pays to be careful. There is, they say, no such thing as a free lunch.
Some years ago the secretary to a very, very senior and well known person phoned and asked me whether I would come to lunch with this person. My immediate reaction was to wonder what this person wanted of me. He didn't know me personally. I thought it was highly unlikely he had even heard of me and I could think of no reason for him to want to speak to me. So, I asked, "What does he want?"
There was silence at the other end of the phone and then a rather huffy sort of reply that the secretary didn't actually know - unusual in itself. I suspect that the huffiness was related to that as well as to my questioning why I might be invited to lunch. She would, she said, get back to me.
Some time later I had another phone call - from the man himself. Most people would have unhesitatingly accepted an invitation to lunch with him and I wondered if I had committed an unforgiveable social sin. But no. He seemed amused.
Instead of going for an expensive lunch somewhere - the sort of thing he would have done for other people - we sat in a tiny private garden outside his office. We ate sandwiches and drank orange juice out of bottles. He asked me a lot of questions, took a lot of notes and shook my hand firmly at the end of it. I know I ended up on a committee because of that meeting.
A year's worth of meetings was a high price to pay for a sandwich and a bottle of orange juice.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You should have hung out until he offered fresh orange juice and a gourmet sandwich!