Monday, March 21, 2005

Can you smell smoke part two

Wearied from police paperwork that is tied to the arson incident in the previous post, Mine Host lurches back inside the Wayside Tavern. Only to be told by one of the barmaids: "There is someone attacking the pub truck!"

Keen to meet the one who may be person who has just burned his truck, Mine Host looks out the back window. A young buck, stripped to the waist, is pacing up & down in a most agitated manner beside the burned pub truck, & is kicking it with lots of vigour.

"Kick away bucko" gloats Mine Host, from a distance.. "that is a 1979 Toyota Landcruiser, a survivor of 10 years worth of carpark prangs in the shopping centre, & there is not a mark on it.. better still, why don't you head-butt it.. heheheheh"

Suddenly there is the sound of smashing glass, & accompanied by one of the house guests, Mine Host breaks into a sprint of pursuit.

Converging with the police, who had just happened to witness a brick go through the truck window, Mine Host & the house guest leap fences, dash accross roads, & run the fugitive to a standstill in a back alley. (Sort of like a proper Darwin police foot pursuit)

Not realising he has the irate owner of the truck on his hands, the fugitive snarls & advises his pursuers to "clear off & leave me alone"

Salivating at the chance to get square with the arsonist, Mine Host advances. Before anything can happen the Sergeant, from 100 metres distant, calls out "Police, get face down NOW!"

Obviously experienced at the rules for arrestees, the fugitive complies!

Suddenly there is a meaty smacking sound, the house guest has decided to take matters into his own hands and is laying the boot into the prone fugitive, sort of like soccer practice, except with the suspect's head!

The kicking/beating continues until the police arrive & handcuff the suspect. Even Mine Host is shocked at the ferocity of the attack, (although not complaining about it, Mine Host has limited sympathy for crooks)

As he is being loaded into the police car, the Sergeant dishes out another small "reminder". Later he apologizes to Mine Host, "I would have given him a 'bit more', but wasn't game to with you watching"

He had to be kidding?

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Can you smell smoke too?

It is midnight Saturday night, the Wayside Tavern is quiet, very few customers.

There is definitely smoke in the air, electrical type smoke, (not cigarettes) nor it is the smell of Mine Hosts coffee burning (a not unknown occurrence). As we wonder where it may be coming from, the pacific atmosphere of the Wayside Tavern is shattered by a customer dashing in the back door...

"The pub's truck is afire!" exclaims the panting midnight visitor, & without pausing he races behind the bar, grabs a fire extinguisher & disappears again out the back door.

Electrified out of his somnabulent state, Mine Host stumbles along behind. Once outside the smell of smoke is very strong, & there is the pub's delivery truck, clearly the victim of arson.

Someone has opened the quarter-vent & tossed in something to start the fire, which has begun on the drivers seat, the inside of the cabin is a mess.

All the plastic bits, including the steering wheel are dripping like melted cheese! The fire extinguisher has given everything the colour of ash/snow. The seats are burned back to their frames.

Fire Brigade & Police arrive too late, but not too late for the police to keep Mine Host tangled up for a good half hour with their paperwork.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

respect the judge

Strolling between the Diver's Arms & the "No-Holds-Barred" Tavern, Mine Host was bewildered to be passed in the street by Sammy.

Sammy, who possesses some notoriety, is someone Mine Host did not expect to see in public for some years to come.

Having been in steady employment, cellarman at the Angler's Rest, Sammy had been staying off the grog. He had on occassion been quite a help to Mine Host, by walking him home through the teeming crowd of muscular young natives who pour onto the street at closing time, thus keeping Mine Host safe.

Recently a house guest at the Angler's Rest, (ie, one who is booked into a room) had been enjoying the convivial atmosphere in the public bar, when Sammy for inexplicable reasons had struck him from behind, with what is known as a "king hit". The constabulary took Sammy away in their truck-mounted cage, the ambulance took the hapless hotel guest to hospital. (Quite a king hit thinks Mine Host)

Iin the morning concerned citizens are told that the victim's condition is too serious for visitors to be allowed, the hospital is attempting to stabilise him sufficiently for aerial ambulance to fly him out to better hospital facilities in the south.

"Sammy will serve serious time for this" Thinks Mine Host.
Hah!! Should have known the Queensland justice system better than that!

It transpires that at the time of the assault Sammy had been on temporary release awaiting sentencing for a serious assault, for which he had been convicted the previous year.

One would presume that in light of the serious & unprovoked assault upon the hotel guest, that Sammy would be dining on bread & water in the remaining interim between conviction & sentencing.

Passing Sammy in the street, Mine Host pondered both Sammy's greying goatee (an indication that he is old enough to know better) & the fact that committing serious crimes and being a threat to public safety seems so often to be insufficient reason to get one locked up.

Mine Host would once have said that the colour of Sammy's skin would keep him out of gaol, but he has seen plenty of white thugs who also for the fun of it bash people into near mash, & never see the inside of a prison.

Friday, March 18, 2005

no internet service

Mine Host has for the past 2 weeks been visiting to the Diver's Arms, where technical difficulties with the in-house telephone system kept him offline for the duration of his visit.

Whilst there Mine Host attended a liquor licencing meeting, held by the licencing inspector & the police, attendance is voluntary, however if you hold a liquor licence & are called to such a meeting, be rather a good idea to turn up.

We waited 15 minutes for the manager of the "No-Holds-Barred" Pub & Nightclub, when she failed to appear, liquor licencing phoned to the pub (the sort of phone call it is recommended licencees answer),and the answering machine was what they got. (This is during trading hours). They then called her mobile phone, once again answering machine. The meeting proceeded without her, Mine Host is glad he is not in her shoes, for there won't be much flexibility on compliance issues with her pub.

The meeting was otherwise a dud: The new licencee in the town waffled on considerably, with constant reference to "my solicitor's advice" (remember, he is a Victorian, never even been in retail, nevermind the liquor industry, and is not yet adjusted to the real world) while everybody else listened bemused by the legalese.
Were he to consider "solicitor's advice" before engaging in daily commerce, Mine Host wouldn't get the doors open in the morning.

We thought in the past few weeks he had learned some of the hard lessons of the pub trade, seems there are a few to come.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Gimme Free Water Now!!

While all the people were happily enjoying the previously mentioned $3 gourmet meals. Mine Host was quietly pleased to note that most people were having a drink with each meal.

Goody! He exclaims, we are actually making a small quid from this whole cheap meals programme. Still, lots of work & lots of money handled for not much return, but at least the Wayside Tavern is making a small bit out of it.

However, a dreadful feeling began to creep up on Mine Host, something was not right! Perplexed he investigated and found that almost everyone who was availing themself of the $3 lunch, was drinking water with their meal. Instead of making a dollar, Mine Host was funding staff member who was doing nothing but serve glasses of chilled water, then clearing the empty glasses, & washing them.

Gasping with the shock that comes to all of us when we discover a hole where our wallet had been, Mine Host added up the cost, about $26,000 per year to fund the free water at mealtimes.

"I don't know how much most people in this town are paid, but $26,000 out of my salary is a bit too much." bleated Mine Host in a manner most forlorn. "There be a limit to altruism, & $26,000 a year out of my pocket is a shade too much."

So the Wayside Tavern joined the ranks of those pubs which charge for water. A fine bottled product was made available, & a glass to drink it from.

Naturally there was resistance from all to *ugh* paying for water. Mine Host was steadfast in his resolve. A drink of water supplied has the same costs as soft drink, beer, or orange juice, & he had to charge for it or face the prospect of eviction. For the Wayside Tavern has flint-hearted creditors of its own.

"No, I don't want the bottled stuff, just pour me a glass from the tap" was the cry from all who had been greedily slurping at Mine Hosts water trough. "Certainly" came the reply from Mine Host "However the service charge for pouring water will be the same price as a bottle"

The resulting stream of invective was as water off a duck's back to Mine Host, for what choice did he have? He was perfectly happy to pour a glass of water for someone, however he was paying someone to perform 6 hours of free water service, every day of the year.

Then came the expected scream about "charging for what the council gives free" & "I'll sue you" etc etc... Never mind that the council water rates were of an amount to render Mine Host parsiminous, he explained to the angry hordes that "This is not the american south, is not the 1840's, & this girl is not anyone's negro slave, it is The Wayside Tavern, the 21st century, & if you want her to pour you a glass of water, you shall pay her for it"

In a strongly trade untion town, this very powerful choice of words ended the matter with all seeing Mine Hosts' point of view & firmly agreeing with him.

However the complaints about "paying for water" never stopped, so Mine Host, seeking a stress free life, adjusted the price of meals from $3 to $14 ,watched as the budget driven water guzzlers decamped to the supermarket for $2 noodles, water arrangements reverted to normal & the clientele complimented Mine Host on the wonderful meals at "excellent" prices ($14) whilst ordering a beer or two or three to wash it down. The takings went up, & Mine Host vowed to never again do anything for the public.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

How to Spend Poker Machine Profits

Mine Host, flush with poker machine income, was one day overcome with altruism, & sought to return some of the filthy lucre to the public, by way of doing good deeds.

He sharpened his pencil, & calculated that he could sell very decent meals for Three Dollars, thus soothing some of the guilt he is supposed to feel at fleecing the public via the vile medium of eletronic gaming machines.

So the Three Dollar Lunch & Three Dollar Dinner programme was commenced.

All went well, the kitchen staff were fully employed, the kitchen more or less broke even, & the people of the town recieved restaurant quality meals for the price of a scratchlotto ticket.

One of the touching moments of Mine Hosts' life came when a pensioner halted him as he strode purposfully accross the dining area. Slightly irritated at the interruption, (Mine Host is after all a busy man, with important stuff to do) but putting on the practiced face of a hospitality provider, & concealing his irritation, Mine Host stopped to hear whatever annoyance the pensioner was going to put to him....

The pensioner then spoke with a humble dignity & a patent honesty which gave the delivery of his words an exceptional poignancy:

..."I would just like to thank you, for what you have done, making meals like this available to people like me, It is a wonderful thing you have done, & I am very grateful for it. There is no other way I could afford food like this."

Saturday, March 05, 2005

National Party sides with Criminals

Recent political moves to force pubs/nighclubs to serve free water have confirmed Mine Hosts' belief that common sense & government need not inhabit the same dimension.

A certain National Party member of state parliment has recently been laying the boot into pubs/nightclubs for selling bottled water at $4 or more per "bottle". This ingenuous member of parliament has called for legislation to force nightclubs to provide free water.
The logic used by the good lady member: "Kids" buy ecstasy, then enter nightclubs/pubs where, being as they are high on ecstasy, they don't require or consume much alcohol. Thus "greedy" publicans sell water at "inflated" prices knowing that ecstasy users are extremely dehydrated & will want to consume large quantities of water.

Wryly Mine Host notes that the lady politician should know better. Kids don't get into nightclubs, and it is well known that once inside ALL drinks (not only water) are relatively expensive.

Mine Host has an issue with the mental competence of those who believe that purchasers of ecstasy are somehow forced to buy their essential water supplies from nowhere but nightclubs.

Why should licenced & regulated operators (ie, nightclubs/pubs) be forced to provide the antidote to an illegal street drug? If the street price of ecstasy leaves the user with insufficient funds to purchase water in a nightclub, there are alternatives: Venture to the nearest service station & buy bottled water (for 1/3 the nightclub price) for an even cheaper dose of water go to the park & drink cost free from the duckpond.

What Mine Host would NOT do were he to have a need of water, especially one brought on by an illegal act, is enter a nightclub, knowing full well the price of everything, THEN complain & whinge in the media about the price. If drug users spend too much on drugs & have not enough money left for going to the pub, perhaps revese the order of their purchases? Buy water & entertainment first, THEN purchase illegal drugs, & take up the issue of price with a corner drug dealer?

Mine Host is shocked, nay incensed, that a National Party sitting member has formed a coalition with drug users & is now complaining publicly about the price of water in nighclubs.

The price & sale of ecstasy, however, remains unregulated, unlicenced, illegal, & to date has not been the subject of complaint by either the good member or her "coalition" partners.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Street Violence

Reading news from the big smoke, of such happenings as strangers knifing a doorman, or belting a pedestrian into a state of quadrepelgia, the perpetrator then disappearing into the anonymity of an urban crowd, Mine Host reflects in puzzlement on the supposed causes of this violence.

"Irresponsible service of alchol!" cry some, "We'll close pubs early!" bleats Premier Beattie, "More liquor inspectors!", "More Taxis", "More Free Water" chorus others, & so on & so forth...

By Gosh! Exclaims Mine Host, there are hooligans out of control in the deep south (Brisbane) & the blame is being laid at the feet of publicans & nightclubs. Can this be true? Could Mine Host's southern counterparts collectively be responsible for the mayhem of the front pages? Murder for a pair of sandshoes, mindless violence in taxi queues, punch ups in the mall, etc.

Is the answer so simple as to stop pouring grog down the gullet of people who are already incapable of standing unaided?

Can the answer really be so simple? His competitive nature coming to the fore, Mine Host prowls the room, brow furrowed, wondering if he is doing something wrong: "Surely none could be pumping more liquor into their patrons than I, & none could have customers who be greater morons than the flatheads frequenting the Wayside Tavern?"

"If street violence be the inevitable consequence of excess alcohol sales, why are my patrons not creating their own brand of fear among the local population?"

Recalling that after dark the streets surrounding the Wayside Tavern are noted for their tranquility, Mine Host wonders if there may not be other factors influencing the spread of violence in faraway places such as Brisbane.

"If abuse of alcohol is the main contributing factor in savage violence," thunders Mine Host "with the per capita consumption here, my town should be a 'Baghdad-in-the-mulga'"

"For sure, if there is violence to be had, these drop-kicks around here will be up for it. However, despite me rendering them legless with record quantities of Rum, a fluid noted for it's aggression enhancing properties, in this town there is nary even an instance of fisticuffs between consenting adults"

Mine Host believes that the alcohol supplied to him by various breweries, distilleries, wineries etc, is every bit as potent as that which is supplied to nightclubs in central Brisbane. Furthermore, he is of the belief that hooligans break the law in Brisbane not because they are more drunk than the patrons of the Wayside Tavern, but because they CAN.

The thugs who lurk menacingly near the Wayside Tavern commit what little pieces of mischief as they do, in the full knowledge that they face certain arrest, either on the spot, or if they leg it, before they reach home. As belligerent as they may be when facing the citizenry, these "toughs" are sooks when confronted by police. Fear of consequences (ie: being taken to the cells via the "long scenic route") means none give significant grief to the police.

Mine Host is of the belief that the thuggocracy of Brisbane would voluntarily cease operations if they also faced a 100% chance of being arrested & held accountable for their crimes.

Furthermore if cowardly attacks upon the weak & vulnerable were to have physical consequences for the thuggocracy (ie, being descended upon by several police, wielding batons & ready to use them), street violence would be on it's way to being no more than a memory.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Armed Robbery

Geographically isololated as the Wayside Tavern is, Mine Host has been free from many of the problems afflicting his brethren victuallers in the metropolitan & more heavily populated areas.

Holdups do not happen, break & enters are rare. If you "hit & run" in a pub, the police (at their convenience) call at your house sometime in the next couple of weeks & arrest you for affray/assault/whatever. A bandit pulling off a heist & making a getaway by car would be met by police roadblocks before the next town. If said bandit were to take to the bush for a getaway he would be ill advised, as every piece of bush is actually the domain of a farmer/grazier, who possess guns, and has a markedly black & white attitude towards criminals!

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Dial 000

It is a very quiet night, only a few regulars are in the bar, the very occassional road train or lonely ute passes by the Wayside Tavern.

Mine Host thinks to himself: "How boring can it get? I wish something would happen"

(Always unwise to tempt fate by making such wishes)

Suddenly in rushes one of the toughest young men in town, tattooed, wiry, muscles like whipcord, reflexes of lightning, he gives ground to no man! Er.. until tonight that is, for his hands are waving as if from rubber wrists, his skin has paled to whiter than an Irishman who has never seen the sun. In an advanced state of fear & agitation his voice is high pitched & panicked, quavering he bleats: "They're after me... help me"

Unable to resist some inward gloating at a physical superior throwing himself at Mine Hosts' mercy, I escort "mean John" to the office & LOCK HIM IN. Hee hee hee....

The gloating evaporates when Mine Host returns to the bar & dwells on the thought that if "mean John" is scared, perhaps we all should be scared.......

.... All thoughts are banished by the entrance of a bikie. This man has SERIOUS tattoos, aggression & violence ooze off him, but the atmosphere of electricity & fear is caused by the small shotgun the bikie is carrying. It is not so much that he is carrying it, as that he is attempting to conceal it behind his leg.

"Where is Mean John?" barks the bikie (I've never seen this bikie before, perhaps he is a *gulp* hitman up from the big smoke, with mean John his intended "contract")

Affecting a bored tone of voice Mine Host casually wipes an ashtray: "Not seen him for some days now"
"Don't mess me round, he just came in here, I saw him!" As much as mine host pretends to behave normally, the bikie tries even harder, asking for mean John as if asking does anyone know the time. This affected casual air is clear proof of the gravity of the situation in which mean John has found himself.
" ... he must have gone down one of the alleyways either side of the pub.. "

Not waiting to argue (his "target" may get away) the bikie rushes out to follow this lead. The Wayside Tavern is not within a thousand miles of an alleyway, & the facade is part of a solid brick wall running the full length of the city block.

Having thus diverted (albeit very temporarily) the hitman/bikie, Mine Host turns & makes the first (& to date only) triple-O call of his life. Thank heavens for push button phones, as the fingers quaver too much to use a dial.

What sort of response do we get to a Triple-O call in this neck of the woods, and how quick do we get it?:

Within 3 minutes more than 60 armed police section off the street (yes, sixty, feel free to be overcome with envy all you urban burglary victims who waited hours in vain for even one policeman) each officer is brandishing a revolver. This sight is somewhat incongruous, as most of the police are dressed in singlets & shorts, thongs or sandshoes.

Unbeknown to Mine Host, & certainly not known by the unsuspecting hitman/bikie, there is a gathering in town of the Stock-Squad. Behind the Wayside Tavern is located the police station, outside of which the town's regular police were "sinking a few" with every Stock Squad policeman in the state. Mine Host's distress call had interrupted them just as the entire group was comparing sidearms.

45 minutes later the "armed offender", by now very much sans belligerence, is located in the shunting yard, hiding under a railway carriage.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

The police deserve respect!

The Wayside Tavern is packed full of people. All are having a wonderful time swaying to the music of a VERY good country band. The staff are thriving on being busier than usual, & the carnival atmosphere is vibrant & upbeat!

Mine Host, with a sinking feeling, notices a line of 4 males aged in their late 20's leaning against a wall near the doorway.... Three of them are hangers-on, but one has the unmistakeable features of a complete tosser. The tosser commences aggressively banging against the wall. The sound of it loud enough to be heard accross the room. All the while the tosser is glaring challengingly at Mine Host.

Wearily Mine Host approaches the tosser & suggests the the banging stop. Tosser feigns ignorance & innocence, then aggressivly pins Mine Host to the wall by the neck. The 3 hangers-on give up leaning on the wall & gather behind the tosser.

Mine Host is comforted somewhat by the presence of his secretary who has appeared beside him, (nothing like a witness, & a strong personality to boot) Mine Host is preparing for the head butt which the tosser is readying himself for, (little chance of avoiding it, goodbye to the straight nose) when one of the Wayside Tavern's elderly patrons (aged 70) claps a hand on the tossers arm & authoritively commands him to let go. The tosser lets go purely to prepare to violently smite the elderly man. Suddenly an unexpected melee breaks out from nowhere. A bystander (transpires to be the father-in-law of the tosser) prises away from mine host the tosser, & pushes him out the door.

It has all happened in seconds, mine host is physically unharmed (to begin with it didn't seem like it was going to turn out that way) & has a shredded long white shirt (expensive those things)

The police arrive, summoned by the secretary, to the sight of the tosser stripped to the waist, prancing around on the footpath in the stance of a pugilist, commanding mine host (among others) to come out & "fight". Mine Host is standing nearby in the doorway with shredded shirt & informs the police that the tosser, by now standing sedately on the footpath, has initiated a fair sort of disturbance, refused eviction, assaulted several people, & was the sole cause of the ructions.

The Detective Sergeant attending whispers in the ear of the now miraculously subdued tosser, who takes off like a fox pursued by hounds.

The police then look left & right, then depart, just as soon as the lady constable accompanying the detective sergeant loudly announces "this place needs more security staff". (NB: Security staff can only remove unruly persons from the premises & place them on the footpath, which was the status quo when the police arrived. Police may wear a blue shirt, but this does not prevent them having a broad streak of mental inagility)

It dawned upon Mine Host that the tosser's father & the detective sergeant are friends. Of course there'd be no arrest.