From Oz Commerce Monthly, June 1986. [Note: Kate Cockburn’s article, from which this extract was taken, was nominated for Biz Bio of the Year at the Bizzy Awards 1987]
Many know Dale K. Glaspel as speaker and motivator whose credibility is solidly based on overtopping successes in sales of everything from castration devices (yes, the story’s true) to luxury resorts. His books, such as Meditate to Close, Hyperselling, Selling the Aussie Way and The Customer Wants You Not It, are regarded as minor classics in their field. The launch of his new book, Sell Anything Own Anything, was our chance to catch up with the still youthful Glaspel in the lush surrounds of the Palm Courtyard of the Alhambra Motor Inn.
Can this, I ask myself, be the individual mooted as Australia’s greatest salesperson? In beige linen slacks and apricot polo shirt, Glaspel is impressive through his subtly exuded energy and steady, determined gaze. There are, however, none of the overt traits usually associated with crack salespeople. His abundant chestnut locks and winsome, almost delicate features put one in mind of a soon-to-croon Mark Holden rather than a selling dynamo recently responsible for turning an empty stretch of coastline into a mini-Florida within the space of a decade. (But there are no white shoes for this style icon of the 80s!)
Lithely curled into the enormous rattan armchair, and sipping almost daintily from an exquisitely designed bottle of his own brand of mineral water, Nevereverfail, Glaspel is more than happy to share a little of his wisdom with Oz Commerce Monthly readers, many of whom will be attending his seminars in four capitals (plus Cairns and Wollongong) over the coming months.The way to make Dale Glaspel suddenly and improbably shy is to question him about his extensive collection of Ken Done paintings and objets. Much of this was acquired when neither Glaspel nor Done were Australian household names. Says Glaspel, with a modest flush which could almost be a blush:
“Art for me has always been an outlet, as well as a goal in terms of an ultimate destination for money. Ken Done’s work discovered me, rather than the other way round. I was immediately grabbed by the way a shark fin, a surfboard, an Opera House sail or a yacht on the harbour can echo one another. It’s like the bits of a Mozart symphony, so different, but one bit picks up on another.” (Glaspel hopes to attend as many of the plein air Mostly Mozart concerts as he can this summer, his busy schedule permitting.)
He will not say what the K. of his middle name stands for, but on the subject of business and sales, he is forthcoming. When asked for a single underlying philosophy of doing business, there is a pensive pause – but Dale Glaspel pausing is not Dale Glaspel hesitating. The answer comes unrushed, a deeply drawn exhalation rather than a response, the thoughts emerging simply, then expanding, burgeoning like the luxuriant foliage of the Bangalow palm beside his engulfing rattan chair:
“My latest book is called Sell Anything Own Anything. I like to think that encapsulates everything I’ve written and everything I’ve achieved in business. To me, it represents the flow and flux of life. If I set my heart on a thing, I own it from that moment. If I want someone else to have a thing – what may be called selling – that person is the owner of that thing, from that very moment. My role is to be an enabler in this process, my only interest is in making sure that I acquire a product or service for the lightest investment possible and pass it on for the greatest natural profit. This does not mean that I am trying to beat the customer. Through the natural forces of benign inflation and economic expansion, the customer is free to become an ultimate beneficiary in the process. If he attends my seminars, he’ll know how, but he doesn’t need to attend my seminars. He can learn by spending one day observing ants or bees or clouds. This is not about plugging books and seminars. It’s about universalities.”
While he is known for this improbably reflective and even philosophical bent, there is a side to Glaspel which is controversial, even confronting. I ask him bluntly about two incidents. In the first, a noisy muffler business was being run next to his newly acquired and converted cottage in the light industrial zone of Sydney’s North Sydney. Without even complaining, he bought the landhold of the muffler business, at a premium, and, not waiting for expiry of the lease, closed it down on safety grounds which he was able to establish through council connections. He used the loss as a handy tax deduction before reselling at a huge profit. Quizzed about this, Glaspel merely remarks:
“If you look at North Sydney now, with its warren of ad agencies and boutique computer businesses, you’ll see that I merely went ahead of the game. Western Sydney is the place for its muscle, the city’s golden circle is the brain. Watch a community of termites while doing meditation and you’ll understand.”
In the second event, Glaspel and a male friend had been lingering very late in the dressing sheds after playing rugby at Coogee. He explains that they were both lightly dressed to do some special meditation when an uncomprehending groundskeeper interrupted them and demanded that they leave. Glaspel, after a sharp exchange of words, knocked the groundskeeper unconscious. He was charged with assault, though the magistrate took the word of his friend that provocation had been extreme: the matter was resolved with a fine and caution. A civil action was then settled amicably out of court, and he remains a member and generous patron of the rugby club. Glaspel’s only remark to me when I raise the matter:
“All people have a front and a back. Meditation does not conceal. It reveals. I was able to see my own back after this incident. I was able to grow through the experience and help others to grow.”
I do not ask him about his rumoured purchase of a car dealership which had denied him a test drive in a Porsche, its manager maintaining that the car was reserved for the son of a certain bookmaker. What is known is that Glaspel did indeed buy a luxury car dealership and, after a series of savage first day sackings, he did install one of his old rugby friends, Dominic Corcoran, as manager. (Corcoran has since passed away in Sri Lanka, from an unknown illness.) The story about the test drive is most likely envious scuttlebutt, though it is often repeated around Sydney bars. Certainly, Dale K. Glaspel – oh, to know what that letter K stands for! – does not lack wealth or will to get his own way, but, as he says in reference to his great friend, Prime Minister Bob Hawke, consensus and persuasion will move more mountains than a fleet of bulldozers.
He still has his evident weaknesses – while still unmarried he has been connected with a string of fashion models drawn in part by Glaspel’s unerring sense of contemporary style – but when probed as to his greatest foible the answer amazes, like everything else about this exceptional entrepreneur:
[Reprinted with kind permission of Kate Cockburn-Stokely and Stokely International Publishing]
Dale K. Glaspel had shrewdly conceived ways of doing everything. He called it holistic self-management.
Dale’s way with clients was to take them to breakfast, never lunch or dinner. Breakfast is cheap, people are exposed, looking either their best or worst, do not linger, and decide more promptly (Dale’s way). This strategy was not in any of his books, just a product of that vast prudence he had absorbed from a forceful single mother during an impoverished childhood.
A similar strategy involved donuts. After a rousing seminar, Dale would take his exhilarated staff to the most prominent donut shop in the vicinity. He knew that attendees from the seminar would follow, and that there would be much high-fiving and excited talk. And he knew that donuts are cheap. Let his rivals jam their fans into organic and vegetarian establishments after motivation seminars, places where the zen pieties and sense of correctness would quickly dissipate the giddy mood achieved so deliberately over three crowded hours. Dale gave ’em donuts: iced, glazed, or plain with cinnamon sugar.
The one-off Wollongong seminar of 1987 had been a ringing success, thanks in part to its perfect scheduling. Dale always checked to see when major cities would be choked with traffic from sporting and entertainment events. It was on such Saturday nights that he would elect to go to smaller but nearby cities. Let his rivals like Kerry Crouch and Siimon Siimpson (of numerology fame) fight to get to their own venues against All Black or Celine Dion crowds.
Dale was in the ‘Gong when local team, Illawarra, was playing far away in Manly, and Sydney was jammed up by numerous events. Many of the late bookings for his Wollongong seminar were from Sydney! Therein lay the real sport: attracting Sydney attendees to an economy out-of-town venue. (Dale, ever one for detail, noted that a bus contingent from Sydney’s burgeoning south-west had splurged madly on his books and bottles of Nevereverfail. He made a mental note that the new breed of “westies” with their smaller mortgages may spend less on real estate but more on other aspirations. Liverpool would be a good venue for his next cheapie seminar.)
A stroll through the streets of Wollongong, with a freshly empowered crowd trailing a now relaxed Dale Glaspel, had a spontaneous look to it. In fact, Dale had asked his young PA, Daryl Cremin, to ring the Donutarium during the week and tell them to expect a large late evening crowd. The young woman who worked the Donutarium on weekdays had agreed to accept an unofficial booking and to make sure there was a large stock of fresh donuts at the hour of the group’s arrival.
When the group arrived at the entrance to the shop they found its lights out and an older woman closing its entrance. She had paused to light a cigarette, and stood puffing into the evening air, deliberately ignoring the large group assembling with looks and grumbles of disappointment.
Dale Glaspel was not one to show surprise or disappointment. He matched the indifference of the woman smoking at the door, and stood chatting suavely with two enthusiastic ladies about the just-concluded seminar. All he conceded was one sideways glance at the darkened entrance of the Donutarium. Dale did not “sweat the small stuff”, a phrase still fresh in the 1980s, and one which found a way into his seminars.
It was up to young Daryl Cremin and a couple of Dale’s staff to approach the woman, who had obviously understood the situation but was feigning indifference. As she was spoken to she merely shook her head and scrunched her mouth in weary exasperation. When someone in the crowd said more loudly: “Hey, what about it? We need donuts, you need business, don’t you?”, the woman croaked in one of those voices only forty years of hard smoking can produce:
“I don’t need any business, Sunshine. I need to get off my bloody plates of meat. You lot can find something else to nibble on. Haven’t you got homes?”
A flustered Daryl:
“Look, my name’s Daryl Cremin. I rang during the week to let you know…”
“Well nobody rang me or let me know anything.”
“Sure, sure…But if you could re-open again for half an hour…even if we just have some coffees and some of the left-over donuts…”
“In yer bloody dreams, Sunshine. There’s a Robert Goulet Special starting in twenty minutes on Channel 4, and I’m not missing one minute of my Bobby for you lot.”
Dale, who avoided loss of face before most things, was on the verge of cheerfully luring the crowd away to another venue, when the woman called out:
“Oy, you’re the rooster who’s had his moosh up on the posters all over the ‘Gong. Tell yer students or customers or whatever they are to let an old sheila be. You’re supposed to be a motivisation teacher or somethin’, aren’t yer? Well motivise this mob away from here and let me ‘ave a smoke in peace. If you’re some bloody sellin’ expert, sell ’em a bus ticket to somewhere’s else, because they’ll be chewin’ on their arms before they chew on a donut tonight.”
Dale, who had been about to do just that, was now unwilling to lose face in front of his keenest acolytes. He walked right up to the woman.
“Look, we can do without donuts. But we can also do without abuse. These people are my friends…”
“Well, youse can all be friends together and piss off together. Shop’s closed, and not a moment too soon. So unless you’re Bobby Goulet…”
“Come on…Is that a tone to take with…”
“I’ll take any tone I bloody well like!’
“Maybe your manager will think differently…”
“I’m the bloody manager, Sunny Jim.”
“Well the owner, whoever he is…”
“The owner’s a flamin’ Greek, old as the hills, silly as a piece of string, and just retired to a nursing home in Port Macquarie. He gives less of a stuff than I do…if that’s possible. All he knows is that this greasy spoon I run for ‘im is the best little cash cow on the South Coast. Know any Dapto Dogs who don’t love cash? I’ll be here till I retire or fall into a tub of hot oil. Complain to the bloody Pope for all I care. Now POQ. Buy yerselves a packet of Tim Tams at the servo if youse are peckish.”
Dale knew when to quit, knew when a minor loss of face could become a major loss of composure and a contradiction of all he taught and all he stood for. He turned to the crowd:
“Hey, are we going to stop enjoying ourselves? Let’s leave this lady to the universe and find something else to do for an hour. Let’s all have fun and let the lady enjoy her concert…”
“It’s a bloody special, not a concert. A Robert bloody Goulet special.”
“Sure, enjoy the special. Come on, crew. Let’s keep strolling.”
With a radiant grin that was only just a little strained, Dale moved away, and the others followed. From behind they heard:
“And learn the diff between a concert and a special…yer flamin’ dill!”
But Dale was lost in conversation about the joys of winter evenings near the sea, that salt smell, and so on.
That night, back at the Illawarra Palatial, in the penthouse suite he shared with Daryl Cremin, Dale was quieter than usual, drinking his evening tisane, staring vacantly out to the ocean. At last:
“You know, Daz, I like donuts so much, smell-wise, price-wise…”
“Oh well, another time, DKG.”
“No. That’s not what I meant. I think I might…hmmm…”
“Might acquire a cash biz soon. Just for balance. Maybe my own donut shop, Daz.”
“Have one particular shop in mind?”
On acquiring the Donutarium – at an elevated price and against the advice of accountants, a tribe often indifferent to the romance of cash – Dale had decided to engage remotely. There would have been something a little too forced about his presence in Wollongong in his first days of ownership.
Yet things needed to be done well.
He called on a favour from – who else? – the fixit lady and super-networker of the era, Beatrice Wayling. Not only would Bea do all the necessary sacking and staffing within a couple of days, there was every chance she would be able to call on her friends, Premier Paul Furst and NSW Development Minister, Shanners Shanahan, to pop into a re-opening party in the company of photographers and stars from the Illawarra Steelers. There would be no charge for any of this, it was just mates helping mates, 1980s style. Dale would be in Cairns, keeping a low profile. Word would eventually seep out that he was owner of the Donutarium. His only problem would be how soon to resell at the inevitable massive profit, with the suddenly famous business running hot. Even in the heady high-80s, a decent period of ownership was required of those who were, in the parlance of the day, “serious players”.
The opening had gone as planned. With the most important NSW politicians in the ‘Gong for hard-hat show-meetings with Port Kembla union figures, funding announcements ahead of elections and so on, there had been no problem giving away free donuts to the famous and powerful of the Right-of-Left.
Dale, speaking from Cairns to Bea Wayling, asked almost too casually about the first-day sackings. He had not wanted to be too specific. When Bea Wayling told him she had sacked everybody, just for good measure, and, as instructed, rehired nobody under thirty, Dale merely nodded into the phone, said nothing more on the subject.
Bea was sure Dale was satisfied when she was nominated Nevereverfail Mineral Water’s Equal Opportunity Consultant and Environmental Ambassador.
What a dent a few years were able to make in the fortunes of Dale K. Glaspel! Where did they go, those eighties?
As competition and new fashions in motivation dimmed his popularity, Dale realised too late that he had spent rather too much on penthouse suites and putting old rugby friends into car dealerships. Re-invention was a word which he had grasped onto as a seminar title, but understood too late as a policy. His dated video and audio tapes had all been physically copied, the ideas all pilfered. His litheness and soft manner were no match for the gym and climbing wall culture of the next decade. In the age of email, constant travel, CDs, mobile communication and the intimidating phenomenon called the internet, motivators with global reach were preferred, especially that stupendously toothy Yank, Anthony Eberhard. How did Eberhard afford the insurance for his massive stunts like the fire-walking sessions? Sheer numbers and the sheer size of his operations, that was how. Dale Glaspel’s magic was intimate, local, could limp across the ditch to New Zealand, but no further. (For some reason he had never been accepted in Adelaide. Bloody Adelaide, a brick wall. Why was that?)
And soon Anthony Eberhard and Brenda Fuller were streaking across the globe annually, or sending representatives and franchisees, all backed by the massive resources of Eberhard International or Brenda’s Secret. Late night television was full of their infomercials, hours of infomercials, with testimonials from movie stars, Nobel winners and super-coaches. Dale K. Glaspel’s most famous acolytes were lawyer Kylie Kelly, a Singapore based Queenslander, very blonde, who fiddled deals for Australian miners; and there was ex-model Katelyn Fyshe, who simply attended everything, and did so in a low-cut dress. Not much.
The biggest blow came after Dale recognised the potential of mineral water as an everyday mass consumption product akin to tobacco: the “clutch” product for the 90s, as he like to put it. The mood for water was unmistakeable. Hundreds of thousands of office girls were trooping city streets at lunch hour with a bottle in one hand. Their clothes were black, their water bottles had pale blue labels. They were a uniformed army, those office girls. They would be his army. Dale decided that their bottle of choice should be Nevereverfail, which he had always been careful not to label as mineral water, since it was, in fact, filtered tap water. He just needed to use the prestigious name and elegant bottle shape in a new format. The bottle would be small and, of necessity, plastic, the same tapering shape as the original glass, but its new label would be sepia and gold, to exude an organic quality, along with a certain urban luxe. Against a black suit at lunch hour, it looked perfect, more an accessory than a product. The numerous marketing consultants and stylists involved were delighted at the result. This “look” would not stop at Australia, they felt sure. Dale was inches away from attracting Olivia Newton John as the Face of Nevereverfail Portable.
Do organic and urban mix? No matter. The product was a disaster: wrong size for swigging, wrong shape for holding…and the too-busy label at a distance suggested chicken gizzards or a used ashtray. Meanwhile, the two soft drink majors had made mineral water in plastic bottles their duopoly. One had a pale blue label, the other a black label. And the army of office girls carried those, mostly the blue one.
Nevereverfail Original did not survive the humiliation of its populist offshoot, though many of the genuinely elegant glass bottles were sold off to start a new brand for niche consumers: hdeux+o. But that was not Dale’s brand. It was somebody else’s filtered tap water. The name Nevereverfail was now just an awkward tongue-twister, and the company, which once had its own Environmental Ambassador, folded quietly. Its end was accompanied by an ugly squabble with Beatrice Wayling over her ambassadorial fees, and that squabble damaged a lot of Labor connections for Dale Glaspel. One learns not to cross Beatrice Wayling.
In the midst of these difficulties, which Dale defined as challenges, his core motivation business had shed much of its staff. Of his other enterprises, only one remained, not because it was profitable, but because it was unsaleable. The Donutarium, after six years, was still Dale Glaspel’s.
In his haste to acquire the Donutarium, Dale had not sniffed the wind. Not only had a huge American franchise, Donut Palace, opened up in a nearby location just months after Dale’s purchase, but the owner of the building where the Donutarium was located had given a lease to a particularly lurid sex shop, which opened up right next door to the Donutarium. While Donut Palace, fresh, spacious and advertising its “trans-fat free deliciousness”, attracted massive family crowds (its American owners were a kind of church), the Donutarium wilted, a shabby appendage to a shop with pink crotchless undies in its black-satin-clad window.
It was as if somebody had reached inside Dale’s mind and forced him to buy what he ought never buy. Of course, that was not the case. Nobody had sold him the Donutarium. He had simply bought it, for wrong reasons. Dale was human. He just hoped he was not becoming too human.
Dale had been too busy with re-invention to give much attention to his donut shop in Wollongong. It leaked money, and he suspected that his staff there were pilfering, but a cash business running at a mild loss was the least of his worries during the crises of Nevereverfail and the success of Anthony Eberhard’s four hour infomercials starring Anthony Eberhard’s teeth and a string of global celebrities.
Dale, after making his own cheap infomercials for his motivation seminars, abandoned them and tried his hand at selling mystical pendants and crystals to insomniacs in the same timeslots he had paid for in advance. That went a little better, but only a little, and it had the effect of telling the world that he had given up on his core business. He abandoned television, apart from giving interviews on regional networks when he arrived in ever-smaller cities for ever more modest seminars.
Then came a moment of illumination. He at last understood where the universe was trying to push him. He had not been failing. Rather, he had been struggling against his destiny. The universe always knew best.
Dale would return to the occupation of which he was master. He would become a pure salesperson again, maybe in Perth, where he was less known and his decline from national recognition was less obvious. He would sell anything at all, because he would really be selling himself. It was the truth contained in all those books of his, even if they now littered the remainder bins instead of filling shelves. This would be his rebirth. Australia’s greatest salesperson was going back to his roots. In a few years, he would write new books about new insights.
Keeping just ahead of bankruptcy and defaults, he cancelled all future seminars, dismissed all his staff (not without recriminations and money squabbles) except PA Daryl Cremin, and, quietly as he could, wound up Glaspel Enterprises.
There was one thing needed before his grand transition could take place. Lacking sufficient income, Dale had no use for a leaky cash business with certain tax advantages. He needed to sell the Donutarium, and needed a good price for it, since credit in the 90s was not like credit in the 80s. Oh no.
On arriving in Wollongong, Dale had not even bothered to look in on the Donutarium. He just wanted it gone. However, he did chance to walk past Donut Palace and see the happy family groups slurping shakes and munching on donuts that just looked larger and brighter than those of the Donutarium. Indeed, the premises looked so much larger and brighter, primary-coloured plastic everywhere, with not a mark or crack. And that smell, that cinnamon smell drifting…For a moment he was tempted to walk in and indulge his lifelong taste. No, Dale was in Wollongong to secure a sale, a sale he could not transact himself without staying in the city for longer than he cared to stay. Daryl Cremin had spent a morning on the phone searching out the best business broker on the South Coast, and one name had kept coming up. V. M. Symonds had the reputation of moving the immovable. From Bulli to Nowra, VM, as it was often called, had sold and resold more businesses than most big city brokerages.
Well, Dale liked people who could sell. He wondered if they had heard of him. Probably, but he did not want his reputation as Australia’s greatest salesperson to intimidate V. M. Symonds. He would be modesty in person, not a big city ring-in. They would love him, he would empower them, and the sale would proceed. Soon, Dale would have enough money to renew his real estate licence in Perth, with enough left over for the right car and offices.
He walked on past the alluring Donut Palace and found the cross street where V. M. Symonds had their office. It was in a shabby little low-rise left over from Wollongong’s earlier days, a dark-brick two storey box with a dingy entrance. There was a reek of clogged drains and cigarette smoke wafting outward. Dale actually needed a deep breath before walking in. God, how soon would he be in some new and fashionable part of Perth breathing clean air?
As he ascended the one flight of bare brick steps, the drain smell lessened but the tobacco smoke clinging to the stagnant air stung his eyes. God. This was the coast’s number one brokerage? So good there was no number two or number three? There had to be a mistake.
He came to a grimy, crazed-glass door with the faded words V. M. SYMONDS, BUSINESS FARM AND INDUSTRIAL BROKERAGE. A novelty sign hanging near a broken buzzer showed a cattle dog on a country dunny, and the words: Don’t knock, just waddle on in. If we’re not in the office, you know where we’re squattin’. Dale paused, closed his eyes for a bit of composure, since he was not game to breathe deep. My God. How long till he had his prestige office overlooking the Swan River? He walked in.
There was such a thick haze of smoke he almost reeled. Seated at a drab, untidy reception desk was a plump girl with a cigarette in one hand and an enormous Donut Palace shake in the other. She quickly placed the shake down and flashed a grin:
“‘Scuse us. Lunch time. Just refuellin’. ‘Scuse the ciggy. What can I do you for you, hon?”
The thought of an angry retreat was hard to repress. But no. If these people could sell his Donutarium, he would put them on the job, walk out of this office in five minutes, and never have to come back. Really, it was like having to use a service station toilet. You held your breath and did your business.
“Hello there. I’m Dale. A friend of mine, name of Daryl, made an appointment…”
“Oh, yeah, right. Make yourself comfy, hon. I’ll just let the boss know. Just move those mags if you wanna park it for a bit.”
“I’m fine. I’ve been sitting in a car for a while. Don’t mind standing.”
“Have half a donut, hon? They’re good. Fresh from the Palace…”
“I’m fine. But thanks.”
The girl, holding her cigarette and wiping shake and donut crumbs from her mouth, moved with a pained waddle toward the only internal door and flung it open.
“Oy, VM, there’s a gent here to see you. Mr. Dale. Mate of that Daryl bloke who rang.”
From inside the office came a volley of coughs, interspersed with oaths, then a kind of long groan.
“You right, VM? Have a sip of yer shake. Just a sip or you’ll choke.”
Next Dale heard some alarming pants, becoming whimpers. The girl turned to him and winked.
“You’re right to go in, hon. VM’s got a cough like a semi’s gearbox. Shouldn’t be smokin’, I s’pose…You’re right, old mate, just go on in. I’ll piss off out of yer way and finish me lunch. ‘Scuse the French, hon, I meant buzz off, not piss off. Only half there today. Tied one on at the netball presentations last night. Yer know how it is.”
Dale walked past the girl and into an office which was as shabby and chaotic as the reception. At the sole desk sat a scrawny, elderly woman, purple-faced, hunched forward and catching her breath slowly. In front of her was a putrid ashtray, with one cigarette still burning.
Now the woman straightened and looked at Dale, swallowing heavily to repress a new coughing fit.
“Hello there, Mr. Dale. I…Hey, don’t I know you from somewhere?”
He stared back. There was something familiar about the woman. Then recognition.
“Aren’t you…aren’t you…the woman…That night at the Donutarium!”
The old woman let out a grating laugh, which was followed by another mucal coughing fit.
“Oh, we thought your name was Mr. Dale. But you’re Mr. Dale Glaspel! Of course! Of course! I knew we’d see you here eventually.”
“What’s going on? Look, I’m after a business broker…”
“And you…and you…sorry about laughing…you’ve come to just the right place!”
“But you make donuts. Or you used to, till I had you sacked.”
The old woman bent forward and the laughs became helpless heaving coughs. She had to be close to vomiting. At last she managed to get hold of her cigarette and take some deep draws, which actually seemed to help her breathing.
“Don’t mind me…I shouldn’t smoke…and laugh so hard…Don’t mind me, pet. You’ve come to the right place.”
“But I don’t need a donut maker. I need…”
The woman straightened again and tried to speak composedly, swallowing the beginnings of another coughing fit, and wiping away tears of mirth.
“I’ve never made a donut in my life, pet. Made some dough though. Worn out four husbands in the process…Yeah, I know why you must be here. Mind you, it won’t be easy. I’ll get you a price, but I’ll want a good whack for the trouble, plus some cash under the table. If necessary, a bookie mate of mine will collect the envelope for me. But let’s hope that’s not necessary, my pet. You’ll get top price. You won’t be sorry. No more than the old Greek before you. Bugger me, wasn’t he happy when I managed to sell you the bloody Donutarium! And the price! The old Bubble ‘n Squeak started Zorba dancing and chucking glasses. His missus wouldn’t stop sending me stuffed vine leaves.”
“Oh, I remember it all now…Excuse me for laughing, pet…I told you about some Robert Goulet special I wanted to go home and watch. As if I’d waste good pokie time on that singing prawn!”
“Are you trying to tell me…you mean…”
“Listen, pet, I’ve bought and sold the Illawarra twice over. And that was just the warm-up lap. I’d probably be a billionairess now, if it weren’t for the drongo husbands and the poker machines…but you can’t just live for money, can you?
“Yeah, you can read all the books and do all the fancy courses on selling, but when you really need something sold – and I mean sold for a ridgy-didge price, not just bloody given away – you come to the best. You come to Auntie Vi. Violet May Symonds. I do the homework, do it till I can reach right into that buyer’s skull and sort through everything the silly bugger’s got churning round in there. I know every way the punter might jump. Next, I set him up for the kill. Anything it takes. Anything. Then I just rip out the poor bastard’s liver and eat it raw in front of him…but it’s smiles all round. That’s why Violet May Symonds is the best there is. That’s why I don’t work for piddling percentages. Know why I’m Australia’s greatest salesperson? Half the time the bloody mugs don’t even know I’ve sold ’em.”
She sat back, looking suddenly demure, and added:
“But I think you might have worked that out by now, Mr. Dale Krapp Glaspel.”