My decision to bring you out of your hibernation to take on the role as Chief Auctioneer for the Ray White group in 1988 attracted some criticism.
No one doubted your capacity for the role or, your enthusiasm but there were many questions asked about the temperament of this “older boy from the bush”.
You had quite a reputation old mate, woman, were only the start of it!
How would this rough diamond settle into the role, dealing with some very elitist offices?
Every week, I would go down to the Qantas theatre and watch you perform as you sold houses in some of Sydney’s most expensive and refined suburbs.
To my relief, the first couple of Auctions went well, many people commented on what a refreshing change you made to the usual staid and stuffy Auctioneers they were accustomed to.
I learnt to my chagrin, that when Tony gets his confidence there is no place Tony won’t go.
I watched in disbelief one Friday morning, as my world crashed around me.
You were selling a very high priced property in the Eastern suburbs, the salesperson involved had been the prize recruit for our now burgeoning Double Bay Office and she came with a fearsome reputation.
Lil demanded perfection, what she got this morning was Tony in full flight, seemingly forgetting he was not back in the Bush, selling cattle in a dusty sale yard.
“Once more around the ring, Ladies and Gentlemen”
“Money is like horse manure, you have to spread it around to get the effect”
Oh, Tone; from where I was standing in the room you could hear a pin drop. If swooning had not gone out of fashion, I am certain there were several Double Bay Matrons who would have swooned in the best Emily Bronte tradition.
I looked at Lil, the daggers she flashed at me, would have pierced a Centurion tank.
I walked back to the office, wondering what the hell I had done.
I was not surprised, when a little later Tracey told me Craig was on the phone, Craig was one of Trevor’s new partners in Double Bay.
“Mate, Lil is threatening to walk out because your Auctioneer is a buffoon”
We organized a dinner for Tuesday of the next week. You and I would go and take our medicine and see if we could fix it.
You got lost on the way to the dinner!
Arriving much later, you blustered into the room, laughing about the perils of finding your way around Sydney.
That did nothing to ease the mood or; to enhance your professionalism.
Tensions slowly eased over dinner as you worked your charm and we agreed to see how things went from hereon in.
You charmed your way out of Jail that night.
After dinner as you will recall, you and I sat on a park bench in Double Bay, arguing about the situation till early in the morning.
You would never agree to change, but you did. Even Lil would eventually sing from your Hymn Book.
“Tempering the flame” became the byword for dealing with you.
You told me months later, that you realized you had passed the test, when I stopped coming to your auctions with my note pad.
Tone, we went on from this to forge a wonderful Auction business in Sydney; your enthusiasm and joy in your work, was now matched by your professionalism.
You made life fun when we did not even have time to laugh.
You were risky but you were great.