Works in the Herald 1933

I scorn to be associated with anything so dowdly old-fashioned as Modernism. Were it not so, I might be tempted to break into a couple of columns of free-verse over the remarkable success of the recent Commonwealth Loan.

I might even be induced to do a painting in the modern manner of a rectangular Mr Lyons joyfully receiving the voluntary tribute in the shape of a sculpture in the Epstein manner of a dropsical investor digging deep into the eccentric sock.

But I trust I am too advanced to do any of these things, and, besides, the association would be incongruous, for there is nothing so archaic in its incidence as the modern public loan. It is older, even, than free-verse.

Private lending has advanced a little with the times. (The pun is quite accidental.) Certain precautions and safeguards have entered into the business, which indicate an improved understanding of human nature.

As one thoroughly inured to overdrafts, I speak with some authority. I have sat in an overdraft for months, taking all sorts of risks, but so far have never succumbed to a fatal attack of monetary pneumonia, so I think I ought to know.

And what is the very first question that the private banker, peering with a fishy eye over the top of his glasses, asks you, when, blushing inanely, you bashfully broach the subject of "a little temporary accommodation."

Does he ask you what interest you will condescend to pay? He does not. He, as lender, has fixed that himself. Does he ask how great is your need? His troubles. Brusquely and brutally he wants to know what you are going to do with his money. Then he sits back with an air that dares you to put up a plausible story. Furthermore, if you are lucky enough to secure 25 per cent. of the sum you urgently need he bails you up thereafter, with little notes that, for no adequate reason at all, "beg to direct your attention," or suggest, hypocritically, that you "call at your convenience." The fellow seems to be always at your elbow, nudging and nagging. But, rightly so, after all, for surely he, if any man, should know something of human nature.

But what I want to get at is this: Supposing I, as banker, consented to afford the Federal Treasurer, as borrower, a couple of shillings as "temporary accommodation," would he, in the first place, tell me explicitly and in a straightforward, manly fashion, for what purpose that particular two bob was destined? I think not.

And if, having consented to advance the said accommodation, I dropped this person a polite note, say, at the end of a year, "begging to direct his attention" to my couple of bob, and asking him to "call at his convenience," would his nervous finger press urgently upon my doorbell on the morrow? Nary a finger.

And if, so far forsaking my dignity as a lender, I called in person at his official address and asked, "What about my two bob?" would I get any satisfaction. Certainly none.

Therefore, in case my failure to subscribe should loom too conspicuously, I offer these incontrovertible facts, collectively, as one of the reasons why I have not contributed to the recent loan. The other reason is that I have not anything to subscribe with.

Herald, 21 November 1933, p6

Copyright © Perry Middlemiss 2002