Life & Style Weekend - - MAGAZINE / STUFF - ON A LIGHTER NOTE WORDS: GREG BRAY Find Greg Bray at greg­bray­writer.word press.com or Face­book: Greg Bray – Writer

Folks, one heir­loom my mother is try­ing to fob off to her off­spring is a large cabi­net that was made in China be­fore World War II. It’s hard to ex­plain to young peo­ple to­day just how ex­otic some­thing made in China was when I was a lad. It wasn’t that long ago China was a des­ti­na­tion hardly any­body could get into and prac­ti­cally no­body could get out of. The com­mu­nist na­tion was hid­den be­hind the Bam­boo Cur­tain. At the time, Rus­sia lay be­hind the Iron Cur­tain while here in Aus­tralia we were rid­ing on the sheep’s back. Any­way, back then, China’s chief ex­ports were pro­pa­ganda and po­lit­i­cal refugees. Half-starved folk who ar­rived on our shores with a cou­ple of small bags, wide smiles on their di­als and an ex­treme will­ing­ness to work 50 hours a day to show their grat­i­tude. So, when vis­i­tors came to our home we would show them the cabi­net made in China and they’d make the ap­pro­pri­ate noises of ap­pre­ci­a­tion. Fur­ni­ture from the For­bid­den ex-king­dom was a rar­ity. I don’t know when things changed, but at some point in the past 20 years the words Made in China started re­plac­ing the words Made in Ja­pan. Try telling kids to­day that the term Made in Ja­pan was seen by wily shop­pers as code for cheap, un­re­li­able garbage. Stuff that broke quicker than a cheap chair un­der a Sumo wrestler. If you wanted mer­chan­dise of qual­ity, that would last a life­time, you bought Aus­tralian or British made prod­ucts. Sadly, Aus­tralian con­sumers didn’t want slightly dearer Aussie-made tran­sis­tor ra­dios, stereos, TVS, cars, mow­ers or wash­ing ma­chines that lasted for­ever. To­day, even the Ja­pa­nese are get­ting their stuff made in China. Thou­sands of ships are criss-cross­ing the globe filled to the brim with Chi­nese junk and, as a re­sult, the value of Mum’s gen­uine, an­tique Chi­nese cabi­net has plum­meted like a shot Pek­ing duck. Still, one way of in­creas­ing its value a hun­dred­fold would be to print the words Made in Aus­tralia on it. Which is what I’ll do as soon as the stamp and ink ar­rives from China.

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