Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Romeo Alpha Papa Echo

Guards have intervened to halt a suspected rape. (see previous post)

This is serious stuff, thus the police are telephoned. The call is diverted to a regional city "Yes sir, not much we can do, there is only one car 'on' in your town, & they are dealing with no end of skirmishes elsewhere"

The police officer hasn't absorbed what was reported to her. I try again. It seems to not soak in. I speak carefully & clearly into the telephone:

"Romeo Alpha Papa Echo, I say again, Romeo Alpha Papa Echo, in progress, Wayside Tavern."

Half an hour later the police car arrives.

Meantime guards have secured the male alleged perpetrator, assisted him to dress, & accompanied him to the hotel office.

For half an hour an obviously distressed young man sits in the office gossiping, smoking furiously, gulping down tea. The reason why he is there is not discussed.

Then police arrive & take him away.

The female victim has by this time got dressed. She arrives at the hotel office, to discover that her 'friend' has been taken to the police station.

She is in an advanced state of intoxication. She is adamant that she has not been raped. She sits in the hotel office, gossiping, smoking furiously, gulping down tea. The reason why she is there is all she can talk about.

She cannot imagine why the police have arrested her boyfriend. However, arrest is a serious thing, & not so easily undone.

Rape is serious, the detectives were woken. One arrives at the Wayside Tavern. He has spoken to the male prisoner, & wishes to interview the female alleged victim.

Upon seeing the alleged victim, the detective arches his eyebrows at Mine Host. Clearly the woman is much too intoxicated to interview.

However, pragmatism reigns supreme. It is a busy Saturday night. If the police can release the prisoner, they can get back out on patrol.

The woman is taken accross to the police station, where she makes a statement. (The state she was in she'd have done well to be able to sign her name.)

As a result of that statement her 'friend' is tossed out of the police station. The matter is ended. The two police on roster get straight back out on patrol.

Every law has a time when it must be ignored.

Tonight that was: "Police must not take formal statements from persons who are incoherent."
And for those who are observant, we also ignored: "Thou shalt not smoke inside a pub".

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Unsung Working Man

"Rape" is screamed.

Later, nobody can say who screamed. It is after midnight. There were more than 500 people in the bar.

The rape is apparently in progress inside the Gents. Guards attempt to force their way in, as the door is blocked. This reinforces the belief that a rape is in progress.

Inside they find that one cubicle is locked. There is something not quite right about what is happening inside it.

More than one person is in there, at least one is female. When guards make entry they find a male & a female, "at it."

Both have taken all their clothes off. This is diverging from conduct associated with a rape.

The guard who made entry to the cubicle is on his own, except for the who were already in there. (Must have been rather cosy with the three of them.)

Half-a-dozen males attack the guard & attempt to enter the cubicle to "get the rapist." The guard fights them off.
Then another half dozen males attack the guard & attempt to enter the cubicle to "rescue their mate."

The guard is punched & kicked aplenty, his cries for help cannot be heard. He's backed into the cubicle, with the amorous/rapist pair squeezed behind him. Otherwise he'd have no chance.

All the while there is an endless crowd of males coming & going to use the toilet facilities. They dodge around the brawl. (Yes, it really does happen like that.)

The Guard knows there will be no "Hotel guard intervenes to save rape victim" headline. There never is. These blokes put in some heroic efforts, receiving little but sneering from the press & the authorities for their trouble.

These blokes are middle-aged working stiffs, putting in late shifts as guards to pay mortgage, put food on table, send kids to uni, or perhaps pay maintenance. They take seriously their responsibility to keep patrons & premises safe. Salt-of-the-earth.

(Pumped up young ethnic types, with Robert De Niro accents, bulging gym rat arms, carefully oiled skin, trimmed eyebrows & metrosexually moisturised face? You'll only find those down in the big smoke, usually at CBD venues.)

Afterward the guards prowl the venue, grabbing & tossing out those who had attacked the lone guard in the gents. They throw out about twenty males. In a most unceremonious fashion.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Drinks Cabinet

For the viewing pleasure of Paco. This is right beside my home kitchen.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Unwavering Gaze

This photo is of the interrogation of a Kempetai (Japanese equivalent of Gestapo) Non-Com.

The photo is taken just after the war. Interrogating is an officer in the Royal Australian Air Force. The fellow on the right is an American Soldier, there to translate.

The Japanese soldier had been posted to the Kempetai in Sandakan.

Those reading this who know their history will have just had an adrenalin shot into their veins, as they understand what this interrogation is.

The Japanese prisoner has a "Who, me?" look on his face. I've seen that look a thousand times. It is used by every lowlife unsophisticate who is caught.

Sandakan Prisoner-of-War camp contained Allied (mostly Australian) & Indonesian personnel. Six Thousand prisoners in total. It was the starting point of what is known as the Sandakan Death March. All the prisoners in Sandakan camp were marched to another camp. It matters not where the other camp was, as none made there alive.

Of the circa Six Thousand in Sandakan p.o.w. camp, only Six Australian soldiers survived the war. By escaping during the death march.

Which brings us to the Fourth fellow in the photo. The one holding the Owen gun. The one whose task it is to guard the prisoner. A task he is conducting with a grim determined resolve.
One look tells you he is an Australian soldier. His dress, his armament, the angle of his slouch hat, and the way he carries himself.

And the set of his mouth. The iron expression on his face.
He knows very well who his prisoner is.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Chequebook Security Procedures

"What procedures do you have in place to ensure your cheques are written only by authorised people?" Sneered the "Business Banking Relationship Officer" from the bank.

My reply:
"An expectation that your bank will not issue my chequebooks to strangers."

Not much he could say to that.

The bank had issued Six Hundred of my cheques to people who are not signatories to the account. Of these circa Sixty were written & presented by the time I detected something amiss.

The phone conversation was a rather "hot" one.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

5-Star Rating

Mine Host is engaged in a phone argument with the Company that measures the accommodation "star" rating system.

They are, as always, one of the rudest & most unreasonable outfits I have dealt with. It is little surprise that more & more accommodation businesses are opting out of a star rating.

The star rating is a simple checklist. A questionnaire on a clipboard, boxes ticked or crossed, answers evaluated, then pay for the inspection before you learn your new Star-Rating.

The argument with the Star Rating company began when they phoned (as they do every year) and glibly instructed me to rejoin the star rating system.

I retorted (as I do every year) by stating that I won't consider rejoining unless they adjust their inspection checklist to ensure I am given the rating I deserve.

The problem is there is no form of heating whatsoever in any of the Wayside Tavern's guest accommodation. Without in-room heating I won't get 4 & 1/2 star rating.

There is not, & never will be, a heater used in my town. Ever. Nobody owns one. We run air conditioning to cool the rooms every night of the year. The star rating company makes no allowance for accommodation operators located in the Torrid Zone.

Thus the requirement for heating is unreasonable. One imagines this is similar to how motel owners feel when denied a 4-star rating because their car parking is too far from the room, but then see the Hilton getting a 5-star raing (indisputably there is no car park space way up in the sky at the door of those rooms.)

I suggested (as I do every year) that if the star rating inspector really wants the room to be warmer, that they open a window, they'll then have all the heat they can handle.

The phone call ends badly for the star rating smarty-pants (as it does every year.)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Pay Rise for Everybody!

A Meeting of all staff is called. A few things are discussed.

They are told that the law says henceforth I will pay an extra $40-$50 each week, for each of them. Oh boy oh boy, is this news welcome!

I then explain that the money will not be paid to them, but direct to the state government. I would rather pay it direct to them, as it is calculated according to how hard they work.

This is payroll tax.

By their reaction it is clear the staff would prefer to have the pay in their own bank account. They demand of me that the money be paid to them, as it is "theirs".

I don't disagree with them, but explain the law says I must pay it to the state government.

The receptionists exclaim that our State Member of Parliament is arriving later that afternoon, booked in for a five-day stay. (now just how about that for coincidental timing of the payroll tax announcement)

The meeting gets out of control. (hehe) They work out for themselves that it is this politician's government that has "taken" their pay rise.

Nothing like a representative of working people's party copping the full ire of the working people.
I got to watch five full days of it!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Proceed two kilometres, then turn Left....

Cross posted at Adrian the Cab Driver's Blog.

There is only one way to leave Brisbane airport by road, and that is to travel two kilometres then turn (left for the city). This cab driver, one of the new guard of Indian student drivers, needed the GPS to get him out of the Brisbane Airport, the longest cul-de-sac in the country.

"Lennons" was the destination. With experienced drivers this would have been sufficient. Or perhaps I'd have to say "The City please mate, Lennons Hotel". The driver refused to accept there was such a hotel, until he phoned a friend (who must have used the phone book, or google, or something).

Lennons Hotel is fair smack in the middle of the city, it fronts onto the Queen Street mall, vehicle access is via a rear laneway. Queen Street Brisbane, in front of Lennons Hotel, has been closed to vehicular traffic since 1988. The GPS in the taxi was unaware of this 25 year old street closure, and directed us to drive down what used to be Queen St.

Queen Street is now covered in kiosks, fountains & pubs, it even has a full roof over it. The "cabbie" couldn't process this. Hopeless without the GPS, he went into denial, taking me for a drive around the adjacent financial district, then came back for a second go at Queen St.

In the intervening 5 minutes Queen street hadn't magically opened to traffic.

Favourite moment: The manner in which pedestrians scattered like chooks when my "cabbie" revved the engine outside the casino then pointed the nose of the cab at Queen St. For a minute I think he intended using "speed" as a method of overcoming an obstacle known as "architecture".

However he then decelerated, before haring off for a few more trial laps of the financial district, which included two attempts by my driver to eject me (& luggage) onto Edward Street.

Curtly explaining the outcome for him if he had a go at removing from the cab me & my luggage two blocks from my hotel at midnight, I suggested he "stop & ask another taxi driver". We first had another tour of Charlotte, Market, Eagle & some other streets.

On the Adelaide St. taxi rank another driver demonstrated how to reach Lennons. With hand movements. It was one block away, around a corner.

Simple enough you think?

About this stage I stopped trying to help the driver, if he cannot find a hotel when he is within one city block of it, and instead gets lost, what help could I be?

This time we surged down the Albert Street mall. To the bug-eyed amazement of pedestrians we wended & wound through the crowd & around obstacles. Then we toured the financial district again, before having another run along the mall in Albert St.

By the third time we went up the Albert Street mall, the pedestrians & I were giving knowing nods to each other.

Finally the driver stopped right in the middle of the mall & alighted. Leaving they keys in the ignition, the motor running and the door open, he wandered off into the crowd to see if he could find Lennons by himself, or something.

The evening, which I had thought couldn't get any better, then reached a rather unbeatable climax by........

........ a 13yo Samoan kid jumping into the driver's seat & hijacking the taxi. With me in it.

The "hijack" came to a quick end when the Samoan lout realised, via the method of six foot of irate passenger grabbing a handful of his shirtfront, that his crime of opportunity had been poorly researched.

It was midnight, I'd flown two legs with Qantas, had been in the taxi for about an hour & a half, (for what should have been a twenty minute journey) and I wasn't in the mood for the night to end with me having a starring role in "High-speed police chase Brisbane".

Friday, August 19, 2011

Just Like a Rubber Ball

A fellow is exhibiting aggression. Part of the lingering crowd on the street after the Wayside Tavern has closed.

There were 500 people in the bar at closing time, and half an hour later there are still quite a few lingering on the street outside.
Most of them are engaged in the usual activities, hugging, talking, vomiting, etc.

But this fellow is determined, as some are prone, to belt someone up.
He speaks quite aggressively to several people in turn, then lines up & takes a swing at a nearby chap.

The punch is quite a good attempt, not one you'd like to stop.
The intended target bobs & weaves such that the blow misses, then gives one back.

The return fire was quite a good punch.

The aggressive fellow went down. Just like a tree chopped off at the base.
He went down quite hard, as when he hit the bitumen he bounced.

You could see daylight under him, he'd have risen six inches or so before falling again & laying there.

Tsk, tsk, tsk.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Upscale? They're just landfill between Pubs!

Browsing online news, always good for the light relief provided by the proliferation of semi-literate headlines, occassionally yields some actual news.

One snippet detected this week was a stoush between a between a shopping centre developer in the Queen Street Mall in Brisbane, and the operator of a chain of pubs-cum-alfresco-eateries that are fair smack in the middle of the street/mall.

The shopping centre developer was claiming that the Pig & Whistle pub (now there's a name for you) "lowered the tone" of the surrounds, and wants them "out" of the mall.

The (cough) journalist writing the story called the Pig & Whistle a "backpacker's bar".

It seems the mall is going "upscale" with some pooncey shops selling pooncey gear.
The news article mentioned the following new shops, which - along with some others - will purportedly "improve" the Queen Street mall:
Chanel (a thing you change on your TV)
Louis Vuitton (how to pronouce that?)
Gucci (something you say to babies when you want them to sleep)
Swarovski (Deserter from the Polish army, or leftover letters from a game of Scrabble?)

Actually they are, in order:
Chanel. A perfume shop.
Louis Vuitton. A suitcase shop.
Gucci. Not sure what it sells, but the word is familiar, though pronounced Goochy, just like the Cricketer.
Swarovski. Never heard of it, could be the mountain next to Koscuiszko for all I know.

Mine Host, a reguar visitor to Brisbane, finds the Pig & Whistle very handy. Usually arriving into the big smoke late at night, he checks into whichever pub along Queen Street that would have him, then pops along to the Pig & Whistle for a drink & some late night tucker.

Noticeably absent from the Pig & Whistle:
(a) Backpackers, though there can be a few there, they are mostly in minority. The price of Pig & Whistle drinks will keep them away anyhow.
(b) Bad or Tasteless behaviour. It is mostly well dressed, upscale people, quietly having a few drinks & sometimes a nibble. There is often some very well dressed and very good looking sorts (of the ethnic variety) there, alas they are never alone.
(c) Dishevelled or disorderly patrons. I repeat, it is mostly well dressed, upscale people, the type who would drop dead rather then enter an *ugh* pub.

Mine Host can think of plenty of reason to pop into the Pig & Whistle, despite the inescapable sound system, & the TV screens being tuned mostly to unwatchable rubbish.

Conversely, Mine Host has got to this point of his life without ever knowlingly laying eyes upon any of the 4 shops mentioned above, & can think of no circumstance in which he would ever cross their threshold.

Remove the Pig & Whistle, have only pooncey shops with the nichest of niche markets, & the Queen Street mall will be dead.
And Mine Host would have to move to the Stamford Plaza or the Park Royal.

By all means put in shops that nobody can tell you what they sell, but do not remove the pubs. They are the lifeblood of the Queen Street mall.

Besides, Mine Host has such fun in the Pig & Whistle.
The staff are often barely able to understand his accent, they have little to no knowledge of the Liquor Industry customs in Qld, but they mean well, & are very polite & helpful.
They persist with selling drinks in weird sized glasses.
"Do you want an 'arf or a pint sir?" (NB: they should be asking "7 or 10 sir?")
"er... I thought I was in Queensland"
"(sigh) make it a small one"
Major sin: Pig & Whistle does not keep their glasses in the fridge.

Pig & Whistle is where Mine Host spent one of the most engaging afternoons of the past year, ensconced with his solicitor over a bottle of red, deep in idle chatter. (sigh)

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Census with Integrity

Another National Census has come & gone.

No census forms were submitted for the Wayside Tavern. (though 160 persons present overnight)
No census forms were submitted at the previous census five years ago. (100 persons present overnight)

Last time:
The census officer was a recent former employee of the Wayside Tavern. (Anyone who actually believes the govt line that the census taker will be a stranger ain't never been "west of Strathfield.")
Good looking & pleasant, she was nevertheless extremely scatterbrained. She dropped off forms, explained how to fill them in, etc.

We never saw her again. She phoned a couple of times, asking me to take the forms to her mother's workplace. (Anyone who actually believes the govt line about the anonymity of the census taker.....etc)
Would I have taken the forms to her mother's workplace? Moot point, as she never revealed where her mother worked..... She was extremely scatterbrained.

This time:
We didn't see the census taker, or any census forms, before the census. The census taker (at least it was a stranger this time) called in to collect the forms. When I pointed out that we could hardly fill in forms we don't have, she became quite short with me.

She had dropped the forms in, & spoken at length with "one of your staff" instructing on what to do on census night, etc etc.

It transpired that she'd given all the forms & half an hour or more of instruction to whichever barmaid had been nearest the door one day a couple of weeks ago. The barmaid has long since moved on to another town (without forward address) nobody has ever seen a form.

The "census collector" didn't seem to care much that there were no forms to collect. She left, making it plain she wouldn't be back "Oh well, I'm only doing it for the money anyway! What do they expect?" were her last words, spoken over her shoulder as she departed empty handed.

Thursday, August 11, 2011


This smells & tastes every bit as good as it looks!

A lot of time & effort goes into the kitchens at the Wayside Tavern. We have testimonials from many of the highest figures in the land, to the effect that they "didn't expect this sort of food here" & "I cannot remember when I last ate this well" (the last quite recently from Qld's highest ranking public figure)

I am proud of the food. It is a constant effort to maintain standards & to strive for a better dining experience for patrons.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

I'm sitting on it

Mine Host is the chairman of a (very minor) government sponsored liquor industry advisory group.

This involves little more than meeting now & again to eat sandwiches,
....and to discuss violence & matters of public disorder.

The membership is top heavy with public servants, most of them in "care bear" type roles.


1/. Talk is being presented as Results. A non-tangible (speech) being presented as a tangible outcome. This is new territory for Mine Host.
2/. People who matter, the liquor licencees, have grown tired of turning up only to listen to droning.

However, despite lack of interest (except from public servants, who seemingly have no objection to either free sandwiches or to wasting time on unproductive stuff) there is still the occassional meeting, notable more for the comical aspects than for anything else;

1/. The public servant taking the "minutes" has no idea how to keep minutes of a meeting. However they do manage to sanitise what passes for minutes to remove anything controversial, or that will reflect less than positively upon the meeting (this they don't stuff up).

2/. Lots of these public service types, who seem to do little more than wear a tie & look dour, will occassionally call Mine Host "the chair".
Every single time this happens, I get off the chair & hold it up where it can be seen.

....They have long since learned to stop referring to me as "chairperson". They prefer to avoid confrontation.

I know my native language. A chair is what people sit on. The chairman is the role they voted me into. The correct form of address is "Mr. Chairman" (or if a lady: "Madam Chairman")

They spend all their careers absorbed in a world where procedure matters more than outcome, & they don't even know basic meeting protocol?

Saturday, August 06, 2011

NO Vacancy!

Mine Host, in the big smoke on as-yet-incomplete business, is staying at the Hilton for a few days (as one does) and decides to extend his stay by one night.

The reception desk shakes their head "Sorry sir, we are overbooked for tomorrow night, you will be unable to extend"

Several times during the evening & into the late night an approach is made to the reception desk, in the hope there has been a cancellation. Alas nothing changes.

In his room at 2am, packing (as one must when one is being booted out) and having just worked out, after several days, how to use the in-room internet, Mine Host logs in to the Hilton web-booking site. (The Hilton Brisbane sets quite an intelligence test for those intending to use the in-room internet, I've been caught by it before)

The Hilton website offers one a wide range of room choices. A booking is quickly made. An emailed confirmation of the booking arrives promptly. (The stay has just been extended, heh heh heh)

A visit to the reception desk (with emailed confirmation in breast pocket) brings an unchanged answer, "Overbooked tomorrow night sir, you will be unable to extend".

In the morning a rather terse conversation is had with the "guest services manager", as she takes some time to grasp the point. When she does grasp it, there is (through gritted teeth) a credible response: "Sorry about that sir, I'll be talking to the overnight team about this"

Another Hilton Brisbane snippet: They rarely restock the minibar during your stay. This saves money, but rather defeats the purpose of a minibar.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

End of an Era

When reaching for the comb this morning, it was not there.
Neither was it anywhere else. A search of the room revealed nothing.
The room is at the Hilton in Brisbane.
The comb is a cheap coloured plastic men's hair comb.
A detailed search revealed nothing.
A thorough ransacking of the room & luggage revealed nothing.
It was there yesterday morning, on the vanity unit.
Today it is gone.

My mother bought it for me when I was a nipper.
It is the only comb I have ever owned.

I have used that comb on my hair every day for 34 years.