Friday, December 23, 2011

The Geisha or the Springbok?

The Australian beer industry has two main breweries:
One is Japanese, the other
South African.

The Japanese brew Queensland's most popular beer.

This brings new & interesting considerations into their marketing strategies. Eg, the exchange rate of the Japanese Yen to the Australian Dollar, the prevailing financial climate of Japan (tsunami, earthquake, etc), are perhaps more important than the ambient financial climate or market share in Australia.

When the brewery was New Zealand owned, the aforementioned were not considerations.

The shenanigans & quirks of beer buying are complex. Not everybody has the intellectual horsepower to cope with dealing for beer. It takes quite some years to learn & develop the skills. The breweries are experts, & greenhorn publicans, who have made a direct entry to the trade, are lambs to their slaughter. (As opposed to those publicans who have worked in the pub trade, been taught by skilled mentors, & know the ropes).

Any fool can fill in a brewery order form each week for the beer they want. Do this & you'll be uncompetitive, and if you're not already a small timer, you soon will be.

Filling in an order form each week is something you might get away with if your pub is bar trade only. Due to the comparitively low volume & high margin of bar sales, mistakes aren't as critical, nor are there the traps for new players.

In the modern era, breweries are notable for two things:
1/. Using unconscionable blackmail to pressure pubs to sell for low margins, and
2/. Not understanding the logistics & costs of long distance freight. (They think all pubs are located beside the brewery & make only a token - if any - allowance for freight costs or time delays)

This second point reached its nadir in the state of Victoria few years ago when (what is now the South Africans) ran a "brewery fresh" campaign, forcing pubs to hang a sign out the front informing how many days old the tapped kegs were. The South Africans are the only brewery in Victoria. Thus they felt empowered to pull a monopoly stunt like that. They'd never be game to try it in any other state. They'd be handing their market share to the Japanese on a plate.

How many days ago the keg was brewed? Who are they kidding? There is no sane reason for this, they are working purely on the street punters being ignorant of brewing. This must have got some of their bigger customers offside. It would have been nearly the ruination of some of their smaller clients.

I shudder to think how this would have worked in parts of the country where beer is delivered to pubs only eleven times per year!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Shotgun Wedding

The (heavily undersubscribed & outdated) Australian trade union movement has been bleating somewhat of late about how the workforce is "casualised" & how such workers do not "have certainty" etc.

I can relate to some of that. I don't have certainty. Tomorrow I may be out of business, forced onto the wallaby & having to hump bluey.

On boy, would some certainty be handy around here! But nobody is going to legislate to guarantee me a certain number of patrons each week. I am at the mercy of lots of variable factors. Many of them totally beyond my control.

Under unfair dismissal laws, the cost of removing unproductive/disruptive staff is so great that like many small business employers, I am loathe to hire. I hire no more than I need to, & have eliminated all of the peripheral & small jobs in my business.

This is purely because the less staff on the payroll, the less risk I face under the Fair Work Act.

It is that simple.

In the 1990's short term contracts & labour hire were expanding. Purely because employers were not prepared to expose themselves to the risks of hiring permanent staff. The Fair Work Act will see a return to those circumstances (alternatively your job moves overseas.)

Introduction of (say) a 6-month threshold after which casual/temporary staff will be entitled to a permenant position will lead to 5-month non-renewable contracts for the more marginal workers (NB: just about every job title lower than "executive").

Result: Less permanent jobs than before, and less certainty for most workers.

.... or just change the law so that firing staff is easier than divorcing a spouse.

It is that simple.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Central Control

Bushfire raging pretty much out of control. By now it has burned several hundred thousand acres, and has even rated a (passing) mention on the news.

Only a passing mention, because it is burning hundreds & hundreds of miles from both the capital city of the state, and the coast. It is not even burning within a hundred miles of the nearest town.

It would become a newsworthy bushfire if it met one of the following criteria:
(a) It started burning down the houses of people who are too silly to put in firebreaks & other precautions.
(b) It was a "bit closer" to civilisation so that journalists could cover the story, i.e. handy to commercial accommodation, telephones, etc.
(c) It was fought by uniformed "firefighters" who use a "procedures manual" & come equipped with a spokesman, office, press conferences, fire trucks with fancy paint jobs & flashing lights, etc.
(d) The firefighters were making lots of mistakes, perhaps even managing to burn a couple of "fire trucks" or even a firefighter or two.

Instead the fire was in country where the few inhabitants were wise to fires, and no buildings or civilian lives were so much as threatened, never mind burned.

The fire was being fought by locals, using equipment that was selected for functionality, not for the words "Fire Truck" stencilled on the side.

Those fighting the fire knew how the fire would respond to any given conditions & were not taking risks with their lives. Their command structure was as simple as deferring to the man whose judgement they most respected.

The fire was still burning, & was out of control, nobody was taking it lightly, but they felt that they'd be able to contain it without loss of life or property, & no more than a couple of thousand square miles burned to cinders.

This wasn't good enough for Central Fire Control in the state capital city. They issued command after command, which those on the scene had the good sense to ignore.

Boiling with indignation at being ignored by a bunch of hicks, an expert from Central Fire Control rushed to the scene to take command of the situation. (Well, it took a day for him to arrive.)

Upon arrival the expert displayed an official letter or some sort of trump card that established he was now "in command" of this fire & had the full force of the law behind him.

His first act as Commander was a display of incompetence, hubris, & inexperience. He set out to "inspect" the fire (several hundred thousand acres & still burning, in rough impassable country)

The first thing he did on his "inspection" run was to promptly burn himself to death.

Within an hour of arriving on the scene.

The attention of Central Fire Control was now occupied with the "sad loss" of one of their own, they paid no more attention to the fire, or how it was fought, or anything.

Thus, idiotic diversion nipped in the bud, everybody promptly went back to fighting the fire.

Without any loss of life or property.

Friday, December 16, 2011


Nothing like a fresh new accent (& attitude) around the place.

New bar attendant is fresh from the UK. One of the parts of it that did not have recent riots.

However she states authoritatively that the riots were "justified".

Layabouts smashing their way into shops & looting the contents. Shops built & owned by hardworking individuals, who eke out a living, putting in 12 - 15 hour days, year on end, only to have it smashed & looted by layabouts.

Justified? Never.

What would have been justified was the shopkeepers using shotguns to kill anyone who tried to smash into their shop.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Contractors Terminate Contract

Two security guards, employees of the company that contracts to the Wayside Tavern, walk into the offices of the Liquor Licencing Inspector.

They are there to report their (indirect) employer, the Wayside Tavern.

They report that the Wayside Tavern is routinely packed with "too many" patrons, that the "legal ratio of patrons to security guards is often exceeded (there is no such ratio, legal or otherwise).

The really good part: They state that they are "scared" to go to work, as there are "lots of fights" inside the venue.

The Liquor Licencing Inspector draws back, asks them if their job description really is "Security Guard"? Then advises them to "give the game away" if they are actually scared at having to handle the odd scuffle here & there.

He then pointed out that if they are unable to handle their job, or are unhappy with it, that they should be taking it up with their boss (the head of the security company) rather than with Liquor Licencing.

His actually prefaced his sermon to them with the phrase "How about you fellers grow a pair....?"

Of course these guards & their firm are now former contractors. The Licencing Inspector telephoned to inform of the actions not only of the security guards, but of their boss, who had phoned the same Licencing Inspector to make the same complaint.

On the basis of this phone call, the security company's contract was terminated the same day.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

And She acts Surprised when it turns out this way?

Let me get this straight:

The state government oversees/encourages a massive blowout in the size of the Qld Health bureacracy.

However, writing letters & filling in more forms & holding more "management conferences" is not what makes a sick person well again.

That is done by doctors & nurses.

Now, without a trace of irony, the state Premier, who has caused the exponential increase in health bureacracy, says that the bureacracy will have to be curtailed, as it is "a bureacracy out of control" and that it is oversized.

Gee, wonder whose fault that is?

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Scientific Methodology

"This is a Dangerous Situation, Shut the Pub Immediately!"

Friday night late (or Saturday morning early if you like, as it was half an hour after midnight.)

The two police officers, walking the beat, presented at the front door of the Wayside Tavern.

The Constables hold a brief conversation with the doorman. As a result of this conversation one of the Police Officers then says there are "too many" people in the pub, orders the doors to be closed and no more people are to be admitted to the premises.

The head of security proceeds poste haste to the pub office. The office, containing the control room, is manned by a senior staff member whenever the pub is trading.

The orders from the office are for the pub's doors to reopen immediately, and to not close again under any circumstances, regardless of the braying of any low IQ cop.

This incenses the two police, who purposefully march to the office, exhibiting a very matter of fact manner........

This'll be brief. And it was:

The police engage in a terse rant about how there are "more than 400 people" inside the pub, and that this is "too many".

Question one: You coppers didn't count heads, as you've been to the front door only, so how do you know how many people are inside?
Official Police Answer: The doorman's scanner has registered 420 persons scanned in.

Question two: Hmm... 420 scans tonight, how many of those have since left the premises?
Official Police Answer: ".............."

Question three: Regarding those 420 scans, how many of them are double or triple scans? (Qld driver's licences are notoriously difficult to scan, we regularly have to scan twice)
Official Police Answer: "............."

Question four: Here's a copy of the Liquor Act ("grunt" as I lift it for them, "thud" as it lands on the desk) Please point to the part which legislates that a pub cannot have 420 people inside?
Official Police Answer: "............" endeth the conversation with police. They turn on their heel and depart the premises. We dont' see any police officer again that night.

If a publican who ran away from high school coz it shore had too much books 'n' hard stuff like that, can make such mincemeat of two fully trained & sworn in Queensand Police officers (with degrees), it is no wonder they are continually made fools of in courtrooms!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Dancing in the Street

A very quiet Saturday night. They happen sometimes.

There is a three-piece band playing, $2000 fee and nobody to hear it. A handful may drift in later on. The night won't cover bar wages. Never mind the band fee.

The band leader asks do they really have to persist with this charade?

......Only if they want to collect the fee.

He absorbs this, isn't happy, but grudgingly will keep playing.

Their music is on the "heavy" side of "pub rock". Probably a bit too heavy for this town, it'd only work if the pub was already crowded.

The two guitarists are wearing transmitter packs, to avoid being tangled in wires. These packs are on their back, transmitting to the amplifiers. This means they don't have to stand on the one spot.

So: In joker mode, being as they've argued with me about continuing to play, and there are no customers, they walk all around the bar all the while playing, the sound continues to blare from the stage.

This takes some getting used to, as all one's conditioning is that music eminates from the point where it is played. One's trained instincts are suddenly wrong, this is difficult to cope with.

Being a Saturday night the street is deviod of traffic. There is barely a car going down the street every half hour or so.

I suggest we move into the street, for a change of scenery.

The drummer has to remain at his post, but the guitarists, the barmaid & I move accross the street to the median strip.

The band keeps playing, which is quite surreal. There is only a slight plinking noise from the guitars in the street, and the music continues to blare from the amplifiers in the pub.

All four of us dance (well, shake a little) to the music, then drift back inside.

Several more times over the next few hours we repeat the exercise. The guitarists find it great fun, & stand in a lane of traffic each & play, like wild men of rock or something!

(There is no traffic, being a Saturday night)

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Fire in the Shrubbery!

Off the top of my head I can't recall what this drink is called, but there was strong demand for them in the first half of the year.

They are a favourite of mine. Whatever they are.

It tastes every bit as classy as it looks!

Monday, December 05, 2011

Shut Up & Watch

The police station receives a report of a pretty fair brawl in progress, on a sheep station.

The report is received just on dark. By the time someone gets there it will be well & truly night. An officer is dispatched to attend the scene and investigate the possible disturbance.

It is 60 miles to the sheep station. All of it on unsealed roads.

Upon arrival the officer observes what appears to be a large scale brawl still in progress, there are upward of 80 people involved. It is also brutally violent.

Two men detach themselves from the melee and approach the police vehicle.

The policeman is wondering what to do. He is heavily outnumbered, the brawlers are all shearers, New Zealand Maori shearers. Clearly they are sorting something out amongst themselves.

["What idiot called the police?"] thinks the officer, with malice.

The two Maori who have detached from the blue boldly stride directly up to the officer, pick him up bodily & sit him on the bonnet of the police 4wd. One removes the officer's pistol from its holster & tosses it onto the front seat of the police vehicle.

The officer is petrified.

In a heavy NZ accent one of his minders advises the policeman to sit where he is, not move, do not intervene, do not attempt to use the police radio, and when it is all over he will be allowed to leave unharmed.

The minders then lean back on the police 4wd, one either side of him, fold their arms & do not move. They don't look at the officer again.

When the police officer arrives back in town in the early hours of the morning, he reports that at the scene were in excess of 80 persons, males & females who appeared to be New Zealand citizens, all of whom refused to talk to police, no obvious signs of a riot & nobody who had seen anything. There may have been an incident, but with 80 people saying they had no idea what he was talking about, his investigation inevitably came up no trumps.

He tells his comrades what actually happened. Nobody says a word. But for the grace of god it could have been any one of them...

... tomorrow, or next week, it could be.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

You Shouldn'ta Joined if you can't take a Joke!

The current law firm has engaged in a spot of exuberant billing.

Attached to every invoice, and a part of the costs agreement, is literature informing the client on the procedures of disputing a solicitor's bill.

First heading on the list: "Talk to your Lawyer".
[ to your lawyer about the bill. Once your lawyer understands why you are concerned, they will explain the costs and may agree to review the bill...]

The bill is Five times the estimate given in the costs agreement.

So Mine Host talks to the lawyer. Here is the amount of understanding & explanation he got:

"If you didn't want us to do this to you, you shouldn't have signed our costs agreement!"

Hmmm, seems like I'll be brushing up on my procedures for: "When bill disputes turn acrimonious."

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Live Bands

A live band, playing in a pub.
A most risky tactic for the pub.

It is a gamble: That you will have increased custom to pay for the band, and then some.
It is a one-off gamble. That is, there is no residual effect, as there would be from say new furniture. You are paying a lot for live music, and can only use that music while it hangs in the air. As soon as it is gone, so is any benefit.
Tomorrow night, or next week, you'll have to think up something new all over again (perhaps a different band - but who knows how it'll turn out?)

Most likely it will pan out so:
First off you will require smelling salts. This will be of invaluable assistance for coping when you learn the band's fee.
The band will have a list of demands for extras on top of the stiff fee (no band plays for less than $1000 per night, booked for a minimum of two nights. Well, last time I used one anyway)
(a) They will want "free drinks all night" for the band & also for their groupies. Answer: NO
(b) They will want overnight accommodation for all the band. You don't have much choice in this. Usually they'll sleep almost anywhere, however if you don't have space you'll have to use motel rooms, and that gets expensive!
(c) They will want free meals for all band members.

At gig time the band will start off with dirges, that steadily empty the pub. People will slowly stream out.

The band will knock off for regular breaks of up to 3/4 of an hour. During this time the pub will continue to empty.

If you are lucky, or have made an astute choice of band, they will be playing the sort of music that "works" in your pub.

By the end of the gig the band will have warmed up and be playing livlier stuff, that had they played this to start with, the pub would now be full of people.

With very few exceptions this is how your live band experience will be.

It mostly won't be worth the effort.

Friday, December 02, 2011

The Mean Streets

The Tool brothers "ruled" the streets for a time. Amongst their own circles they had a "reputation". They preferred darkened alleys, or milling crowds after the pubs have closed.

The cycle of seasons rolls around, and several hundred Tongans arrive in town, for some intensive field work. Yep, several hundred of them!

Tongans are physically huge, and stereotypically no strangers to street level violence.
They are also hard physical workers and usually in peak condition.

It took only one night for the streets to undergo a change of management.

Apparently the changing of the guard was, as spectator sports go, very unpleasant. The Tool bros. weren't seen on the streets again until weeks after the last Tongan left town.

The Tool bros, without any sense of irony, went to the police to complain that they couldn't even walk the streets in their own town.

One of their girlfriends wrote a series of letters to the editor about the "injustice" of it all.

This served only to convince us that she was not making a short term injudicious choice of boyfriend, but was in fact terminally dumb.

At the Wayside Tavern we thought it quite funny. So did every other pub in town.

The Tool bros. have not had quite the same air of gravitas about them since.

Bit hard to pull off acting the toughest bunch around when everybody has seen them get the flogging of their lives, heard them squealing like a pig (yep, high pitched squeal) for mercy, for help, for anything.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Where do you Get Yours?

A sodomy joke to an audience of ex-cons wouldn't have produced a more uncomfortable silence....

All I did was ask for a cup of tea.

Five of us were crammed into the waiting room of the Barrister's chambers.
One of the two receptionists had enquired if anybody would like tea/coffee.
Only one taker, me.

Not because I was the client, & a cup of tea would (microscopically) help mitigate the several thousand dollars the meeting was about to cost. Just that I thought in the circumstances the more caffiene in me the better, and it would keep my hands occupied.

To the inevitable supplementary question: "How would you like it?"
I had answered, in time honoured fashion:

"Same way as my girls please, black & sweet"

.....It seemed nobody present had heard it put this way before.

The girl going for the tea was paused in mid-step.

My solicitor, an athletic fresh graduate from a legal family, supposedly a macho "blokey" type, blew his cover by saying "It's okay, he's from the country"

(Implication: "Don't blame me for this, my client is a backward hick and doesn't know any better)

Never one to take condescension very well, & mindful of the maze of coffee carts etc we had to negotiate to get into the building, I said out loud to nobody in particular:
"As opposed to city boys, who go down to the street & pay for it"

Now there was a silence in the room.

One of the older expert witnesses, clearly a chap who'd had some field experience in his life, suppressed a smile.
The rest of them were as if a broomstick has been used on them in place of a rectal thermometer.

Victory was mine! (And this in a room full of people whose profession was thinking on their feet in a courtroom)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Otto? Isn't he Mr. von Bismarck?

Not having written for a while on eligible females who turn out to classless and nowhere near as intelligent or broadminded as they believe themselves to be, it is time for another in the series.

The star of this episode was yet another who dwelt in an inner city suburb in one of our great metropolitan areas, Sydney. I never did find out which suburb she lived in, nor her occupation. But it would have been something suitably "toney".

Conversation with her was certainly a challenge, as to her celebrities & the Sydney "A-list" social scene was the most highbrow of subjects. (You're already starting to get the picture)

I would never be so narrow minded as to call those topics the most trite, trivial and irrelevant of subjects (not to mention pretentious). In the interests of charm & better interpersonal relations I made an effort. Nothing is as novel or broadening to the mind than to meet & interlocute with someone whose worldview is entirely different from one's own.

However I fell at the first hurdle.

This broadminded & savvy city girl, with the most cosmopolitan of outlooks (yeah, right!) made a comment (without any sense of irony) about "pretentious types" and how they "sit at Otto's" and watch the world pass by.

Years later I was to learn that "Otto's" is/was a Sydney restaurant frequented by the "A-list", however at the time it meant nothing to me, she may as well have spoken in Greek.

Thankfully she kept talking and gave me some context, it seemed Ottos was a fancy noshery prone to trotting out highbrow tucker.

It just so happened that the day before I'd been at a place called "Cafe Otto" in the suburb of Glebe.

Thinking this was the place she meant, I made an observation about not only the attractiveness of the .. er... view onto the street in Glebe, but the tucker produced by this cafe.

As I found out years later, this was not the cafe she meant, nor the view she was speaking of. It wasn't even the same suburb.

Without another word she got up & left. Just like that!

For some time I pondered what faux pas I'd made. It would have been handy had she at least had the courtesy to say "bye" or something.

After considerable reflection the most plausible explanation I could come up with was that she believed I'd deliberately & obtusely pretended to not know of "Ottos". (After all, the whole world knows the restaurants in Sydney where the A-list linger over brunch).

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Misson Creep

The council health inspector attends the Wayside Tavern for an "inspect & certify" of the kitchen.

Usually a routine event, this year it has a new dimension. The health inspector is a new one, a recent graduate in his forties.

He looks like a forty year old uni student too. Scruffy hair, nose ring, slighly offbeat manner, etc.

He has a lot to say about "sustainable kitchen management", and has far too much to say about our "use of plastics" in the kitchen (mainly tupperware containers & glad wrap).

It gets to the point where Mine Host, through slitted eyes, wishes the hippy would skip the greenpeace lecture and just get on with looking for cockroach infestations or whatever it is he is supposed to do.

Finally the hippy/sermoniser tears off the white copy (or is it the pink copy) of his inspection sheet and hands it over.

The inspection is finished.

His job is to inspect for defects & the like. He exhibited little to no interest in that (ie, his job).
He degree of interest in the "sustainability"(?) of our kitchen management, and in our use of plastics, was a most unhealthy one.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Your Blessing is Requested!

"The Splintered Shingle" were a musical duo (Rusty & Jenna) who played the Wayside Tavern from time to time. Rusty was a big, lean, rawboned type, Jenna a petite & worldly blonde.

.... In the middle of a song, one of the patrons staggers forward to speak with Rusty. This often happens, someone will ask one or the other muso do they know this or that song, or somesuch.

This request is different:

"Mate, is it okay if I root your missus?" The bloke doesn't even seem all that drunk. He'd have to be though, or suicidal, to rile up such a rough looking bloke as Rusty, who'd be three times his size.

The look on Rusty's face was priceless.

His instinct is to reflexively drop this feller with a straight right.

Rusty stares down at all the gear around him, looks back up at the... er.. hopeful suitor, looks back down, you can practically see what he is thinking: "This is a $2,000 guitar I've got strapped to me, I can't just throw it down & belt this joker into next week...."

While Rusty ponders his dilemma, the hopeful suitor loses interest in the deal & wanders away, disappearing into the crowd.

For the remainder of the night, in the break between each set, Rusty runs a thoughtful & very careful eye over the crowd.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Squalid Third World People

Mine Host has sponsored quite a few immigrants to this land.
Some of them have even been worthy of it.

It is a reasonable assumption that cultural differences notwithstanding, that some courtesies or good manners are universal. This should go without saying.

Not so!

A sponsored migrant (Singapore Chinese) working at the Wayside Tavern, was offered accommodation in Mine Host's own house. Free of charge. This isn't any imposition. Mine Host is often away on business, and doesn't spend much time there anyway.

However cultural norms of sharing someone's house for free are very different in Singapore. (Or so it would seem.)

Coming from a developed western nation, one with a reputation for cleanliness & orderliness, one would expect to find someone who is culturally & civilly on much the same wavelength as Australia. After all, migrants from Singapore are all over the country, fitting in without problem
(yea yea, Singaporeans can be robots, but for comparison look at the "adjustment difficulties" that come with Sudanese.)

One would expect the following behaviour, as it is how Mine Host would conduct himself in similar circumstances:
Use the house like it is your own, watch the TV, use the kitchen, relax in the garden etc. Pull your weight in the household & houseyard chores, share & share alike the food, keep the place tidy, don't break anything, don't rock the boat. In short: Act like it is where you live.

More or less the unspoken rules of house-sharing.

However, not in Singapore! (or so it would seem)

At some point the housemate purchased some potatos. As you do. These were stored in a basket used for that purpose in a darkened part of the kitchen.

The potatos sat there for so long they rotted. This can happen. When detected, perhaps by the rotting smell, one simply throws them out & cleans up the mess.

Not in Singapore. (or so it would seem)

The potatos rotted to the point that you'd think it would be impossible to not notice, they turned to mush & dripped down to form a rotten mess on the floor.

Ahh... she can't miss it now. It is more or less in the middle of the room. It'll soon be cleaned up.

However the mess lingered.

By this time kitchen hygiene Singapore style was on trial.

Then Mine Host went away on business. He did not return to the house for a month.

Upon returning (the full month later) it was noticed that the *splatter* of rotten potatos was still right there on the kitchen floor tiles. Though it was well & truly dried by now.

You actually had to move the kitchen chairs to avoid stepping in it. At this Mine Host point decided to see just how long before this woman cleaned up her spuds.

She didn't.

Three months later, when the Singaporean couple moved out, having bought their own house, the *sploop* of rotten potato was still there on the floor.

It was actually Mine Host's mother who cleaned it up.

Friday, November 25, 2011


The Police "Liquor Compliance" squad (or whatever they are called) are in town. We've seen these two officers before. They are most tiresome.

Lurking outside the doorway, the officers stare at the public in an unfriendly manner, intimidating the meek. (Crikey, we're in the hospitality game, & these goons strut around acting like SS, & generally putting out an atmosphere of aggression!)

Then it really goes pear-shaped.

One of the departing public, having ceded inhibition to Bacchus, makes a gesture or something that rouses the ire of the shaven headed Constable Brutus Spartacus of the Police Liquor Compliance squad.

A few words are exchanged. The departing patron is clearly unhappy with the Police Liquor Officers. This is understandable, the officers are exuding an air of aggression that seems deliberately designed to raise the hackles of passers-by members of the public.

Suddenly the departing patron is face down on the footpath, officer Brutus Spartacus atop him, truncheon around the patron's throat.

"Call me PIG! Did you call me PIG?" squeals officer Brutus Spartacus in a high pitched voice (thus confirming the diagnosis).

Everybody in the street has stopped & is watching. Horrified.

Then officer Judas McDumbknuckle releases his victim, stands up, & allows the young man to stumble off.

Anyone else care to try doing that in public to a passer-by who (so softly that nobody else hears it) allegedly uses a nasty-wasty namey-wamey on you?

Sometimes events such as this assault reinforce to the observer that the lapsing of the code duello is possibly most lamentable moment in history.

For officer Trueheart Stoutman wouldn't be so quick off the mark were he & his victim to be each holding an "equaliser" & allowed to shoot to kill.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Life Skills

You spend your life surrounded by people who have skills you take for granted so much that you don't consider them skills.

Then you have a moment of shock when you discover that an otherwise functioning adult does not have a skill that is possessed by everybody you have ever known.

In my head I can conceptualise the difference between 10,000 acres & 10,500 acres. I know exactly how big each is. I can do the same for square miles. I know 900 square miles from 800 square miles. But I don't expect many people outside my upbringing to be able to do the same.

But some things you believe are universal.

I can remember the stunned moment when I first realised there are adults who haven't a clue about distance, that telling them something is "a hundred miles away" meant the same to them as saying "ten miles away" or "a thousand miles away".

A bigger shock was when I realised there are plenty who have little understanding of temperature.

Today I encountered a business owner aged in their thirties, who is totally unable to read a weather map. It was nothing more than an abstract drawing to them.

To me the chart said "we're going to get under some very heavy rain in a few hours", and as it is a picture, said it much more clearly than were it to be printed here in text in the English language. A weather map is something you grow up deciphering & reading.

Or so I thought.

It seems that us country boys have some skills that our urban cousins never get around to developing.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Police Fabricate a Law!

The next pub along is having a busy night, then all of a sudden they just up & close, pushing everybody out onto the street a couple of hours too early.

Wonder why?

It seems that a cop walking the beat ordered them to close, for no reason other than there are "too many" patrons inside for the number of security guards on duty.

This was a curiosity, now it's turned into the funniest thing I have seen in ages!

For I happen to know the Liquor Act. (Gee, wonder why?)
There is no requirement for any ratio of patrons to security guards.
In fact there not even a requirement to have any security guards.
Police do not have the power to arbitrarily order a pub to close.

The constable who ordered them to close is obviously completely clueless. (How dumb can you be, using powers you don't have?)

Then again, that publican, a greenhorn know-it-all, without the faintest clue of any of the provisions of the Liquor Act, has gone ahead & complied with a false directive.

Nothing like seeing one who believes they are smarter than you making a public fool of themself. I'll stop laughing in a few months.

There is a wiser head in the station though (probably sitting on a Sgt's shoulders), as by the time the incident gets into the newspaper it is written up as: "Police advised that there may be a safety risk due to overcrowding, and the venue manager voluntarily closed early".

Rubbish! The joint wasn't anywhere near to a capacity crowd. In this jurisdiction there isn't even a fire regulation on the number of people that can be inside a building. You can crowd a pub with people until the walls burst outward, if you wish.

I'll stop laughing in several months time!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Weight & Balance

Dave Harris is a regular at the Wayside Tavern. Short & cheerful, a tyre fitter by trade, he works hard & drinks hard.

A deep thinker he isn't. He's also rather a worry at times. Drunk or sober, he rarely comes accross as fully coherent.
He's also physically one very tough cookie, as tyre fitters tend to be.

There are circular bar tables, the right height to sit at on a stool.

This particular night he climbs atop one of these tables, and stands there. This is scary stuff, the table wobbles, he is drunk to the point that he has a "sway-up" anyway. It will be quite a fall.

And fall he does.

Tap dancing when he should have shuffled (or something), the table flies out from under him, scrabbling with his feet to stay on it, he manages only to point himself headfirst at the tiled floor.

When he hits, his head is likely to split open like a ripe watermelon.

Halfway to the floor a hip snags the seat of a barstool. This levels him, and he lands *splat* horizontally on the tiled floor (instead of head first).

He stands up, shakes his head, remarks that that "sure dazed" him a bit, weaves his way to the bar & has a few more rums. Observing him most carefully there seems to be nothing wrong. Well, nothing more than usual.

He goes home at closing time. Full of trepidation I barely sleep. He'll almost certainly have a brain haemorrage. In the morning he'll be dead in bed.

This is the sort of unhappy & unpredictable event that results in a life changing lawsuit.

However the next afternoon he is in again after work, as usual. He gets drunk & seems no sillier than usual.

After a few weeks have passed, and nothing adverse seems to have happened to him, I put the incident out of my mind.

Years later he's still going strong. Still not making any sense, still working hard in a tough job.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Do it with Style

The leading vice amongst the staff is excessive promiscuity.

As vices go this isn't all that much of a worry for me. Except for the minor irritation of enforcing the rule of no "friends" in the living quarters.

The only other associated problem is that excessively promiscuous staff very quickly "go through" much of the town, thus swiftly reaching their use-by date.

For certain staff, once they are at the point where very few of the clientele are trying to seduce them, their work performance drops off. And so there is the problem of firing/hiring.

Most of the excessively promiscuous staff are rather unhappy at the social contempt that accrues to them as a result of lifestyle.

If he can get to them early enough, Mine Host informs them (if they are prone to listening) that most of negative fallout resulting from excessively promiscuous behaviour is due to not going about it with style.

That were they follow the example of ladies who are products of English Public Schools, they won't be having these problems. For they can get away with doing just about anything, provided they do it with style.

This usually gives them something to ponder. Most of them are quite tickled at the thought of being viewed as "stylish", rather than as "town bike".

Occassionally one of them actually manages to carry it off with style, and dare I go that far, sometimes even with panache.

Usual behaviour: Discuss over the bar, publicly, in coarse detail, who will be doing what to whom. Do it in the manner of a coarse XXX film script.
Stylish behaviour: Actually discuss this sort of stuff discreetly, in private.
Usual behaviour: Leaning forward over the barbeque in the backyard with tonight's one-night stand behind you, hoist skirt up to the armpits and right there under the spotlight remain passive while one-night stand collects payment for the dozen or more vodkas he has bought you. (repeat each night with a new one-night stand).
All this under the spotlights, without a thought that the rest of the staff may be still up, silently drinking on the verandah & able to see everything.
Stylish behaviour: Mysteriously disappearing, without being obviously in the company of anybody. Reappearing in the same manner, with dignity intact.

It isn't really all that difficult. Yet so few of them manage to make even the first step toward "stylish behaviour".

Sunday, November 20, 2011

They'll Fight Each Other (if nobody else steps up)

Reasonably quiet night in the pub. Only a few New Zealanders in the bar. Maoris all. Not much else happening anywhere else in the building.

Ooops... spoke too soon. There seems to be some sort of bad blood among the Maoris.

Oh no.... they're from two different tribes. Someone is carrying on about how high-born their mob is. This is not well received by the other mob.

The mood feels nasty. The younger blokes are starting to hiss & clench fists. This could be really really really violent.

A quiet chat to a couple of the older (grey haired) blokes. They don't want any trouble, they just came down with their respective clans for a few cold ones. They nod to each other & then use their clout as elders to silently order their mobs to stop it. A quiet lecture is given about how they are not there for this.

The one who started banging on about how high-born he is gets taken aside by his elders & advised that he should go home. He complies.

As a courtesy the elder fellows are given a couple of drinks on the house.

There is no need for this, as they all among some of the highest paid workers in the nation. Which is why they have all left New Zealand & come to beyond the black stump.

Phew! That was close. Anybody who has seen serious Maori on Maori violence will know what I mean.

Anybody else can get an inkling of what I may have been in for by watching "Once Were Warriors"

Friday, November 18, 2011

Fixing Problem Gambling

A few years ago, Queensland had a really really memorable Premier guy, hopeless except for two things:

He was a great retail politician & a larger than life identity.

His performance as custodian of our state was such that he should be in Jail. For in a time of booming resources, of the state being in receipt of royalties you can't showjump over, he managed to pretty much run the state broke.

All that aside, one populist stunt of his was a measure to "reduce problem gambling". Specifically poker machines & the "damage" they did.

In the current writings about proposed poker machine reform, it has escaped the notice of all Qld journalists (trained investigative reporters, one & all) that poker machine protocols in Qld are very different to NSW.

The maximum bet per spin in Qld is Five Dollars. Half that of NSW.

Qld poker machines will accept banknotes up to $20 denomination. NSW poker machines will accept any denomination banknote.

Qld used to accept higher denomination notes. Then 10 years ago this really smart Premier guy decided to "limit problem gambling" by eliminating from poker machines all notes above $20.

Actually it went much further than that. The amount a player could insert into a machine was limited to $20 (4 spins of the reels) during play, when the amount of credits lowered, a second $20 or other note would be allowed to be inserted, but total credit could not be more than $40.

You can imagine how this went down with the players, constantly having to stop & feed money in.

This worked. Poker machine play in Qld came very nearly to a halt. Within a couple of days some very high profile publicans were phoning government ministers to gloatingly inform that their pub no longer was liable to pay the extra super-tax applicable to high gaming turnover pubs.**

Govt ministers failed to see the joke. They had implemented the reforms in the belief that it would make no difference to poker machine turnover.

Within a few days the government demonstrated their committment to gambling reform by reversing the limit. To save face, the limit to $20 notes remained, but players could now shove in enough money to buy some serious "zone-out" time at a poker machine.

The story does not end here. For now comes the really good part, that is known to very few, is now revealed by whistle-blower me:

When the abovementioned restrictions were slapped on poker machines, the following day the TAB saw one of the largest turnover increases in history.
Even though the poker machine restrictions were reversed within a week, the gamblers who went to the TAB did not return to poker machines.

There are people whose gambling needs involve placing a significant amount of money at risk.

They can do this on the horses.

In the Wayside Tavern people bet up to $5 per spin on the poker machines. In the PubTAB there are punters who will bet up to $10,000 on a single race. Some of these fellows will make several bets in the range of $2,000 - $6,000 over the course of a single day.

This eclipses poker machine activity.

No measure to minimise the harm of gambling is going to work unless all forms of gambling are equally restricted (including scratch tickets & lotteries), but especially the new forum of online gambling.

Attacking poker machines is merely a populist political stunt by unsophisticated (read: none-too-bright) plonkers who have little to no knowledge or experience of any form of gambling.

**(Yes, there is a super-tax on "very high" pub gaming profits in Qld, has been for more than 10 years, something else that has slipped past every last member of Qld's cohort of trained investigative reporters.)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Some you just Can't Please

A travelling couple have their evening meal at the Wayside Tavern.
They complain about everything. But especially about the price.

$7.50 for a square meal (with steak!) was the price at the time. A very good deal.

They whine to the kitchen staff about every aspect of their meal, the time it took to prepare, the quality of the staff (that went down a treat with the kitchen brigade) the quality of the cutlery, and of course the price.

Apparently where they came from, at the Dumbville RSL club, one could get 10 times the meal for a much lower price, blah blah blah.

She was a slatternly looking slug, he a sour visaged grump. One could easily believe they had chosen to excise all joy from their lives.

Their parting comment was that the unhappy dining experience at the Wayside Tavern had "tarnished" their round-Australia trip!

Just how bitterly they felt became apparent over the next few months, as a series of postcards arrived from various places on their journey.
These postcards raved about the low prices, good service, & great range of goods on offer in every town they visited north and west of the black stump. Unfavourable comparisons were drawn between every pub/newsagent/supermarket and the Wayside Tavern.

When they returned home they even sent a postcard from Dumbville. It had a photo of their church, the message stated that they were praying for a rapid bankruptcy for the Wayside Tavern, which they maintained shouldn't be far off, given the poor quality of the staff, the overpriced meals, etc etc.

They were praying for some good person to take over, so that other travellers would not have their life ruined by experiencing the horrid meals & dreadful service I was providing.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Hot Trio

Phone call from an acquaintance who may or may not be a bookie.
The call is brief. Three races & three horses.

This information is written on an easel blackboard in the bar.
Two of the horses come in. Those who bet on all three tips clean up properly.

Several staff & customers are most distressed that they didn't know about the tips. "Mate, if you've ever got information like that, phone me at home, at any time!"

Nope. The tips are written up in the bar. You've gotta be in there to see them.

Nobody ever knew where I got the information from. (er... assuming hypothetically that I was receiving such information)

This may or may not have happened every week for a couple of years, ending only when the bookie passed on.

In all that time, either two or three of the three tips would win. Once, and once only, did only one of them win. (Assuming this story is real, that is).

The punters had a reverence for that small easel-mounted blackboard that had to be seen to be believed. (Assuming this story is true, that is).

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Wait Your Turn Mate

Scene: Hospital waiting room
(What used to be called "Casualty", now thanks to lots of people being unable to separate real life from what happens on a TV screen, it is known by some inappropriate american term, "emergency" or somesuch)

Time: After midnight.
Cast: Mine Host, injured relative, another injured young male person (he looks like a Ringer).

Injured relative: (noticing that another injured person is clutching his arm & is grimacing in pain.) "What'd y'do to your arm mate?"

Ringer: "Pretty sure it's busted, fell off a horse" (his hat is tucked under his arm)


Injured relative: "Mate, it's after midnight, what're y'doing riding horses at this time of night?"

Ringer: "I wasn't. I've been sitting here since 5 o'clock this afternoon. It happened while we were yarding up earlier today."

Conclusion: Qld health service needs to bring back Sir Johannes Bjelke-Petersen. The health system actually worked when he was in charge of the state.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Pigs by Name

A recent post defended a fancy pub, one with a fancy name. Subsequent events have caused Mine Host to abandon the defence of his industry comrade.

Despite the posh fancy name, there is nothing fancy about the treatment at the Pig & Whistle.

The long, long wait for table service on the occassion of Mine Host's earlier visit has turned out to be the norm, rather than a once-off. (Tip for those wanting lunch in Brisane, you'll spend most of your lunch hour just waiting for a waitress to approach your table, & even then it'll only be an afterthought to her)

This is bad enough. However on the most recent (& final) visit by Mine Host to the Pig & Whistle, as a parting barb he was asked for ID (after paying, though while still at the cash register.)

Still rankled by the slow service and waitress attitude that bordered on insolent, Mine Host was pushed over the edge by the manner of her request (for ID).

It seems words such as "please" aren't in her vocabulary, she didn't properly explain why ID must be sighted to leave the premises, and her tone of voice could not possibly have been described as hospitable.

In a textbook display of affected calmness Mine Host departed without any outward manifestation of just how insulted he was. No barbed parting comment to the waitress, no pause outside to give a vehement "forks" to the facade, nothing.

But the Pig & Whistle has made its last dollar from Mine Host. Plenty more pubs in Brisbane.

The sooner the Pig & Whistle is bulldozed out of the middle of Queen Street, & something else, perhaps a concrete slab, replaces it, the sooner Queen Street will be enhanced.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


The Fair Work Ombudsman investigates minor workplace complaints. Underpayment of wages, non-payment of allowances, employees being overworked, that sort of thing.

In reality they investigate almost nothing, they are too lazy.

Upon receipt of a complaint they write a letter to the targeted employer, urging that employer to "resolve" the complaint. (translation: to pay the amount of shakedown money demanded)

This letter is followed by a telephone call. The telephone call makes oblique references to "full investigations" that may uncover who knows what, whereas if the complaint is "resolved" first (ie, the shakedown money is paid), there won't be any need to investigate & see what the employer is really up to. The FWO inspector then advises that the best outcome would be for the employer to "resolve" (pay the shakedown money) the complaint immediately.

If this resolution does not happen there will be further telephone calls, all using every emotional/manipulative trick in the book to urge the employer to "resolve" (pay the shakedown money) the complaint.

When the deadline passes without the complaint being resolved (the employer neglects to pay the shakedown money), the FWO will have to switch from aiding & abetting a shakedown, and go do some actual work.

Only at this point will they even bother to have a look-see at the complaint to see if it has any merit. They will demand the employer provide them with copies of all paperwork, timesheets, notes, payslips etc. that could be remotely relevant.

They don't even check which award or industrial instrument applies, instead they demand the employer do that for them. They really are that lazy.

At this point the complaint will be found to have no merit (well, every complaint against me anyway). They will write a letter to both parties stating such.

Favourite part:
In the glossary accompanying the initial letter from the Ombudsman, the disgruntled (former) employee is termed "the complainant" and the employer (that would be me) is termed "the wrongdoer".

A more incendiary bit of terminology you'd do well to find a government department using on someone who doesn't have a blemish to their name.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Inexhaustible Discount Coupon

Lynn Edwards, one of the live-in staff at the Wayside Tavern, and thus part of the family that is the staff, is a backpacker, as some of the staff are from time to time.

She often discusses the trials & adventures of backpacking overseas. Mine Host is a receptive listener, having backpacked to something like 39 countries, and can relate to tales of how even the most budget of budget travel can have incredible financial pressure.

She & her girlfriend confided that in addition to many of the usual tricks of the budget traveller (eg, sponging a bed from people one barely knows, living on bread & cheese, hitching in trucks, etc etc) from time to time they "had to do" things that being girls they weren't really happy with.

On occassion some of this was elaborated upon, things like wearing tighter upper body clothing beside the highway to increase the chances of getting a lift, or working in a bikini for higher pay & higher tips. (Mine Host struggled a little with this latter one, as they'd both work in nothing but Victoria's Secret underwear, were he to allow them)

Then without realising it, one day she burst the balloon:
She was recounting how as an impecunious traveller, on the opposite side of the world (blah blah blah) she'd had to do things she wasn't proud of, just to ensure a clean bed & nourishment etc etc. During this conversation she revealed that the tattooist in town would do tattooing for free on girls, provided they were completely naked during the entire application of said tattoo.

It transpired she'd been "forced" by economics into this arrangement, Three times.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Out of His Depth

An official in the Fire Brigade, from his high rise office down in the Big Smoke, arbitrarily decrees that ("for safety reasons" of course) all fire alarm units in licenced premises must be "upgraded" to a certain type within 6 months.

The only manufacturer of this "certain type" of fire alarm is in Perth, and when contacted reveals that it will take them at least 3 years at full production capacity to manufacture enough to meet this sudden need.

The Fire Brigade official, at the 6 month deadline, suspects that not all licenced premises have complied. He obtusely commences site inspections, and fines venues for non-compliance.

He is stunned when his fines are challenged in court, stunned at the reason for the challenge (inability to procure commerical supply) and even then, does not comprehend why the challenges are upheld. That is, that that judges actually ruled against him, when it was a regulation that licenced venues comply).

How did he ever get above the level of "boy who washes the fire engine"?

Saturday, October 08, 2011


Hands up if you've ever been interviewed by a journalist.
Hands up if you've ever been subsequently misrepresented by that journalist?
(Golly, everybody kept their hands up!)
Hands up if you've ever had a journalist misrepresent their motives to you? Who hoodwinked, or lied to you, not chasing news to report, but instead something they could twist to fit their preconcieved notions?
(Funny, most people still have their hands up!)

Click through to the picture to read this one:

The ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) has been the most respected & revered broadcasting voice across the land. When I was a kid the ABC radio was the only transmission you could get. Messages were broadcast over it, for many communities. (No longer a requirement in this day & age when every householder has a telephone.)

When the bulk of Australia received a TV reception for the first time, in the late 1980's, ABC TV was the last to get into action. We had the commercial stations long before we had an ABC TV reception. (Perhaps that was a sign of the decline.)

In the bush respect for the ABC is now sub-zero. Respect has been replaced by contempt. For this the ABC can blame only itself. There is a special hell where these reporters are destined for, where unending fires burn one alive in perpetuity. Deservedly so.

This outfit (ABC) should no longer be funded by taxpayer money. From a broadcaster that passed messages to listening remote communities (eg: search & rescue operations, urgent meetings when the government was about to foreclose on more than half the stations in the district, etc.) it is now an outfit that is not only working against the interests of the taxpayers who fund it, and the people who have depended upon it, but is also working against the national interest.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Price Gouging

The Reserve Bank of Australia has been conducting an inquiry into electronic payment fees charged by merchants. That is: the fee added on when you pay by credit card "That will be an extra 3% sir, for payment by credit card".

This fee is a stiff one. It was costing me roughly $1,000 per week, there is little choice but to pass it on. Like all such charges & price rises, it is quite some time before most people actually pass it on (contrary to popular/journalist belief about "greedy businesses").

The fees charged to the merchant can vary greatly. A big merchant, with huge receipts by card, may be paying about 0.5% of every transaction. A small merchant, say a tiny coffee shop which doesn't take much card, may be (effectively) paying as high as 7%, or even more if you pay by American Express. This is why many small business will not accept American Express, they cannot afford to.

It is also why the fee charged by the shop can be quite high if you pay by American Express.

If the Reserve Bank carries out its promise, and next month makes it illegal for merchants to charge a fee (or caps the fee) expect to see many businesses henceforth refuse to accept credit card payments.

Here is a totally fictional scenario, about a hotel. This hotel is fictional, and is in no way meant to depict my place:
Currently a room is (say) $100 per night. Pay by credit card = $100 + 3% fee = $103 per night.
Then the RBA ups & declares the 3% fee to be illegal?
In this (totally fictional) scenario, the room rate is then changed for 2012 to $103 per night. Pay by cash or other cost free method, as many do (eg. account, direct deposit, etc), and this fictional hotelier will be kind & allow you a "once off" $3 per night informal discount.

The enquiry has recieved submissions from many interested parties. Including the credit card companies.

Visa & Mastercard had much to say in their submissions about merchants "gouging" customers, by as much as 1% in some cases.

Golly gee whillikers! Look who is talking! How is their form? Anybody ever noticed what the "extra fee" for late payment is on their Visa or Mastercard? Anybody ever noticed the interest rate on their Visa or Mastercard?

Thursday, October 06, 2011

We Collect, You Pay.

Proposed by the government is a Super-Tax on large mining companies.
This tax will (cough) "pay for" the retirement savings of the working population.


The govt will pull a swifty by passing a law forcing employers to pay an extra 3% byond each employee's wages into a retirement superannuation fund. (Currently 9%, will increase to 12%.)
Employers who happen to be a company will have a reduction in income tax of 1%.

Govt receives big tax $$ from mining co's.
Employers pay an extra 3% of payroll.

Why is no journalist asking the obvious question of the government?

Yes, there will be a reduction in company tax of 1%.

Employers who are not companies (there are many) get nothing, but have to pay 3% extra of payroll.

Government ministers (& apologists) are lying through their teeth when they say that a big tax on profitable mining companies will fund superannuation increases. Or else they are too stupid to understand how it will work.

Employers who are companies get a tax cut of 1% of taxable profit, but pay an extra 3% of payroll.
For a significant number of employers (if not most) payroll is up to 5 times greater than taxable profit.
We'll choose an example of (say) a pub. This pub is owned by a company and makes a taxable profit of (say) $100,000. Thus the tax cut will "give" this pub $1,000.
The payroll for this pub is $400,000. Thus the extra superannuation payment is $12,000

Costs go up by $12,000
"Paid for" by $1,000 less income tax.

Government (& apologists) are either lying or stupid if they claim this big-feller mining tax will pay for superannation.

Lying or stupid. There is no third option.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

His Party, He'll have it where he wants to

Fred Nerk was a constant pain for staff. Retired, he'd spend as much time in the pub as his pension allowed. He seemed to have no interests, not horse racing, football, discussion of the day's front page, not anything.

Except drinking. If ever staff attempted to brighten his day by speaking with him, he'd repay them by pressuring them to give him free beer.

He was a snivelling no-account, and had been one all his life.

It was hard work to serve him a beer. Very quickly we grasped that unless payment was visible on the bar beforehand, it was going to be painful getting the money.

He'd try to slip it in with a nearby shout, or suggest that his drink had been paid for by someone "the night before" & now he was here to claim it. He'd claim that his mate/son/whoever was on their way down to drink with him, they had his money & they'd pay "when they arrived". etc etc etc.

Ever cunning trick in the book he tried, every day. It was tedious. He even claimed illness. He'd been diagnosed as terminal, & "surely that's worth free beer?"

Turned out his diagnosis was a fact. Possibly the only truth he'd ever told. He'd disappear for several days/weeks at a time, for chemotherapry, or radiotherapy, or something.

One of his sons came in one day, & asked could they hold "dad's wake" in the front bar. We hadn't even heard that he'd passed on.

It is called a "public" bar for a reason. There is no need to ask. People hold wakes in pubs all the time.

On the appointed day the next week in shuffled all his sons, some friends, people who'd known him, several hangers-on, & anybody else who felt like a drink.

Something didn't seem right. Yep. Right there in the middle of the group was Fred Nerk himself. Still alive.

It transpired that he'd decided to hold his wake the week before he died, so he could enjoy it too. Indisputably he was very crook, as during the wake he didn't ask us once for free beer. Then again, plenty of others were shouting.

Somewhere between 7-14 days later he'd passed on.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Noisy Rabble

Oh boy, was last night's Q&A ever a waste of broadcasting spectrum!

The panel:
(1) Some Slovenian professor of something or other. Difficult to understand him. He dressed & presented like a slob, or to be kinder, like an absent minded professor. And he acted it too.

(2) A nice lady (Kate Adie) who'd been a BBC journalist forever. She looked like she would have been interesting & could have been drawn out well. But the subject matter all night was inane, & she was in with a rabble. Waste of a potentially very good panellist. She looked & carried herself rather like Helen Mirren.

(3) Some youngish bloke who could have been sent from central casting to play a university commo type. May have been interesting, but he didn't come out that way. Or perhaps I was doing something more interesting whenever he spoke, like going to boil the kettle.

(4) Some nubile sheila (Mona Eltahawy) who looked for all the world like Nana Mouskouri with curly hair. Don't know who or what she was meant to be, but she was stark raving mad! Bonkers! Hyperbole this is not, as the woman is off her trolley. Bordering on certifiable. Her only hope of redemption is to reveal that during the show she was high on some illicit substance.
In a textbook example of wasted potential, and mindful that women over 30 have the face they deserve, she would have been a "hot ethnic babe" in her 20's, but her nuttiness goes back a long way, & she is well on the way to being downright unappealing, despite having the raw potential for "hotness-in-her-40's" that many women would kill to have.
Alas, the woman is irredemably nuts. No mention on her wikipedia page of her marital status (a key piece of information for eligible bachelors - such as Mine Host) though this is one case where Mine Host would probably pass up even dinner, conversation & a good bottle of red.

(5) Greg Sheridan. The only panellist I've heard of. A newspaper columnist. I've seen lots of disparaging references to him online in discussion groups (translation: He sometimes writes stuff that skewers the hard political left) I can't recall if he is a supposed to be a lefty or righty. Given the performance of the others on the panel (drug-addled, descending to merely confused) I'd have said he was the panel's "token conservative", except the show does on occassion completely neglect to have a conservative on the panel. (Yeah, the ABC really is that hopeless)
Another wasted panellist. Remove the noisy rabble, & introduce some interesting topics/questions & he'd have made some interesting contributions.

Monday, October 03, 2011

There's One in every crowd

To the great consternation of army officers, when seeking a post-service career, it is always their N.C.O's who are sought out by civilian recruitment firms.

For it is the N.C.O's who know how to run things. Officers spend their career passing on other people's orders, making a few inconsequent minor decisions, & are also there to be the "fall guy" if a sane decision by their Sgt is thwarted by the enemy.

This is why so many former officers end up on the government teat, in a meaningless job somewhere in the public service (eg riding as a passenger on long haul bus trips, recording in a notebook the driver's breaks) whilst their Sgt has a real job, as head of an engineering department working on the Boston Harbour Project, or something like that.

There are of course smarter & more capable former officers, who enter a profession that has some meaning, and where the pay is more than they drew for wearing jungle green. But boy-oh-boy, do plenty of 'em end up selling vacum cleaners or somesuch.

Then occassionally one turns up who slipped through the system. We are blessed with one particular Duntroon graduate in our federal parliament. One could be forgiven for thinking this person is a serial malcontent, as he has at various times been a member of almost every political party, from one end of the political spectrum to the other.

Notable recently for threatening to throw the toys out of the cot if he doesn't get his way on a whole shopping basket of 10th-tier policies, he has also managed to cry his eyes out in parliament. (Must have been one real macho he-man platoon commander).

One's military experience can be ruined by being stuck with an officer who is bad news. Wonder what it was like to be in the battalion commanded by this deep-voiced confidence-inspiring macho-man? (That was a joke, he's a whiny voiced sniveller) It must be stressed here that fragging is a very bad thing to do, and this blog does not, repeat does not, mean to imply, in any way, that the bullets that killed this particular C.O. should have had anything other than "made in Japan" written on them. (Or whatever the modern equivalent is, "halal approved by Mullah Omar" or somesuch.)

How did former officer... ever get through the selection process for Duntroon?

Sunday, October 02, 2011

How did they know he was a Fake?

How did "the press" know he was a fake?

From the link:
A fake Batman has marched into Christchurch central police station demanding to know what emergency had triggered the "bat signal" - white light beaming through the sky.
The caped crusader, dressed in full superhero garb of mask, cape and tights, was insisting that the White Lights of Hope, which commemorate the earthquake anniversary, bear an uncanny resemblance to the bat signal.

Read on at the link to see how New Zealand police handled the matter.
(clue: New Zealand is a rather commonsense country, free from most of the red tape, the "blame somebody else" attitude, the nanny-ish guardrails around everything, & other restrictive rules that have come to blight society in most "developed" western nations)

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Bankruptcy IV

From the 2nd of September:

"If one is to be bankrupted, it is always imagined there will be a tangible reason, & a person to blame.

E.g You have made a rash decision, & can blame only yourself. Or you have a lowdown mongrel of a bank manager, & thus have someone you can seethe over & plan to shoot, or something.

Either way, you could expect to have lots of warning, i.e. to be trading poorly for a while beforehand, or be having difficulties meeting bank commitments etc.

It never entered my head that it could pop out of nowhere, that you could be trading profitably, looking to expand, everything going fine. The *pop* along comes an event that you never imagined would happen to anybody. There is no person to blame, no rash decision been made."
The spectre of bankruptcy is no longer looming, I can sleep again. And I made this offer:

"Anybody who can guess what it is that has caused such trouble will be allowed open slather in my wine cellar."

Nobody came close. Some great stories, but nobody guessed anywhere near to it.

The bank was very good about it. Much much better than expected.

The problem? I couldn't get insurance. No Australian underwriter would offer me insurance. The reason: I am located north of 23 degrees latitude, & insurance companies will not offer commercial property insurance to anybody north of 23 degrees.

I had expected there would be a last minute quote, but instead for several weeks I was totally & completely uninsured. (Public liability insurance was no problem, otherwise I'd have been in even worse trouble.)

My preferred insurance brokers, a huge worldwide firm, was finally able to find insurance for me on the international market. This was no joke, putting a country pub into a market that is designed for the insuring of entire fleets of oil tankers or something.

The insurance was finally cobbled together via 8 different underwriters. Quite an effort.

The cost as 1/5th of profitability.... When I entered the pub trade property insurance was about 1/70th of profitability. Increase in risk is negligible. Increase in real terms, in cost of replacement has been negligible.

Very few people believed me. The insurance industry became heated when I sooled the politicians onto them. My industry association was ambivalent, but after phoning a few insurance companies themself, oh boy did they ever believe me. The Liberal & National party responses varied between laughing ("You're in a pickle mate!" - from one very well known LNP politician, who actually laughed as if it was the funniest thing heard all week. This was not helpful)

My local member at least pretended to give a toss. Every ALP politician I contacted was extremely helpful, & escalated the predicament (it'll affect the bulk of businesses north of 23) at either state or federal level.

My ALP federal politician, within 30 minutes of being phoned by me, traipsed straight accross Canberra to thump the desk on my behalf with certain powers. For their trouble they received this response: "Your consitituent is making this up."

That was action within 30 minutes. The first LNP politician to call me back took half a week to do so. All they had to say was how lucky it was I had phoned them, as the ALP "won't even bother to help you mate."

Why is lack of insurance critical? It is a condition of bank finance. Without insurance the bank has cause to instantly withdraw their finance, force a sale. In such circumstances the sale would be for a fraction of what would be termed a "fire sale price", being as the incoming buyer would be buying something they cannot insure.

This is a possible explanation for the (to me) strange behaviour of the past few months from a couple of other pubs in town.

Friday, September 30, 2011

New Faces

Last night's QandA panel (er... well, caught up with it online last night)

(1) Janet Albrechtsen. Heard of her. Conservative columnist. Much better looking than expected. She has class. Sharp of mind, she should be on the panel more often.

(2) Rob Oakshott. Independant federal politician from NSW. To call him a political lightweight would be praise indeed. Very few people Mine Host would term "moron", very few (not saying he is one.....) The man apparently won every booth in his electorate at the recent federal election. My forecast: At the next election he'll lose at every polling booth. Anyone who thinks otherwise doesn't understand the mentality of rural areas (real rural areas, where everybody has a rural job, not hobby or alternate farmers). The fellow was braying on (like a donkey) that the "age of the independant" has arrived. With no sense of irony, this came from the lips of the man whose actions have ended the "age of the independant". Bob Katter excepted, come the first election, there is unlikely to be one independant in any state or federal parliament. This has proved to be the case so far.

(3) Helen Coonan. Political heavyweight. Former minister in the Howard government. Little was done to draw out of her all that she could contribute to a panel discussion.

(4) Some fellow whose name has already been forgotten. A minister in the current federal government. Political lightweight. Former union hack. Couldn't even keep foul language out of his casual panel comments. No class, no style. He means well, but has been promoted above his level of competence. Shows how little talent the federal government has available.

(5) Mark McInnes. An actor, though haven't seen him in any show/production. He writes a column for the Courier Mail. Thoughtful & interesting fellow.

The usual host was away this week. This need not be a bad thing. He was replaced by Virginia Trioli. She has learned from last time & did a far better job than when last she ran the show. She drew some of the panel out quite well.

Big mistake this episode: Not having one of the early questions asked by a good looking sort planted in the audience.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Don't break the law, Just make your own instead!

Mine Host is caught up in litigation with his landlord, a merchant bank.
"McBank" is the uncrackable code name that shall be used for this bank.

The case swings on a (very thick) contract. The contract is so thick it is stapled & bound in what looks for all the world like heavy duty sticking plaster.

Specifically the case swings on a few clauses (as it always does).
The pages upon which these clauses are printed are not endorsed with the Mine Host's signature or initials.

This is because a sheaf of about 20 pages has been added to the contract, after it was signed.

All pages show the wear & tear of having been unbound, unstapled then restapled & rebound. Except of course the inserted pages, which not only are pristine, they are a slightly different colour.

Every original page in the contract is endorsed with Mine Host's signature or initials. The newly inserted pages are not.

It is clauses found amongst these newly inserted pages that will hang Mine Host.

And hang him they do. McBank produces a fax they purportedly sent announcing that they will be inserting after the fact new clauses into the contract.

The existence of the "fax" and the altered contract were unknown to Mine Host until they were provided as part of Discovery. Until that moment, he had been unaware of their existence.

Mine Host's lawyer ruefully advised that the "fax" meant that the (effectively entirely new) contract was valid, and there was no choice but to roll over.

If Mine Host is ever in the big city with a skinful of rum, God Help any person in his proximity who declares they are an executive of McBank.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Best Mushroom Recipe Ever!

Motivation: Charming reader Ellie the Kitchen Wench has posted a link to a recipe for mushroom appetisers.

Action: Wayside Tavern chefs received snap instructsions & have just cooked Three different mushroom appetiser recipes.

Purpose: To compare the Three recipes for taste & presentation.

Result: The Mushroom, Tofu & Chicken Dumplings are exquisite!

Pretenders: Walnut & Mushroom Pesto tart, and Herb stuffed Mushroom.

History: The Wayside Tavern is no stranger to herb stuffed mushrooms, for years we've been making them for functions. These are nice. The tart is also very very good, not something we've made much of in the past, but we'll consider it again.

Winner: The Mushroom Tofu & Chicken Dumplings are first class! The staff & passing guests have all (with one or two exceptions, who will be dealt with later) voted it winner!
1st Mushroom Tofu & Chicken Dumplings
2nd Daylight
3rd Herb stuffed mushroom
4th mushroom & walnut pesto tart

Instructions for Readers: (this means you) These three recipes are in contest run by the mushroom growers assn. Go right now to the contest website and vote for the Chicken, Mushroom & Tofu Dumplings.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

$15,000 - $20,000 - $30,000 - How much is it worth?

Unnoticed by the lay public, the federal government since (the change of govt in) 2007 has been most erratic in its shotgun approach to immigration policy.

Dictated to by the Trade Union movement (a collective mentality that is far from forward thinking) the new government immediately made drastic changes to the sponsoring employer's obligations for "457" (temporary business skilled entry) visas.

That it is visa subclass number "457" may be a hint that there are visa subclasses aplenty. Off the top of my head I currently employ people who are variously on, 010, 119, 417, 457, 485, 573, or 857 visa subclasses. Were I to bother opening the filing cabinet I'd almost certainly find a few more subclasses currently on the payroll.

A few ill-researched & one-sided articles in newspapers, prior to the election, and your average unthinking lay person may have had the impression that a "457 visa" was effictively a return to slave labour, whereby an employer could bring in "loads" of people from overseas, pay them below subsistence wages for long hours of work, and keep them locked up in a corrugated iron shed on the jobsite.

Such events (rare) are of course already breaches of both existing Industrial Relations law, and of the sponsors existing obligations under the immigration act.

Of course, making drastic changes to sponsoring employer's obligations is not going to affect employers who are wont to treat their staff in nasty manner.

However....... under pressure from trade unions, the government changed the requirements for visa subclass 457.
No other subclass was touched.

Sponsoring anyone on visa subclass 457, a time consuming & expensive exercise at the best of times, and done only in sheer desperation, became a legal liability that could lead to bankruptcy of the sponsoring employer.

457 visas were dropped by employers, like a hot potato.

The unions were happy with their first step in the direction of a renewed "White Australia Policy"
The government was happy ("We sure showed those mongrel bosses a trick or two!")

Employers desperate for staff (where else do you get 'em?) commenced using different subclasses of visa. Many of these, instead of being merely temporary entry, are effectively instant citizenship.

What had been a working system of temporary skilled entry, became a black market, by shady immigration & employment agents, selling Australian citizenship to completely unqualified, & more or less unvetted queue jumpers.

As soon as they land in Australia they can walk away from both their sponsor and their obligations. And they do, absconding once in-country, as the Immigration dept (govt) is not seen to enforce, or even care about, people who breach the conditions of their visa.

No wonder there is a black market in citizenship. The price started at $5,000 but as soon as the gypsies realised what a goldmine it was (i.e. how much people are prepared to pay for Australian citizenship) the price skyrocketed.

From a standing start, via this blackmarket, it takes less than a year to become an Australian Permanent Resident. With citizenship to follow automatically.

Or the federal government could make the 457 visa subclass back into what it was designed to be, in the process killing off the brutal penalties for the sponsoring employer.

After all, they've just changed the English language & work permission conditions for student visas. To prop up the jobs of university academics.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Professional Journalist

The local newspaper runs a news article about me. A most inaccurate & unfair article. The entire article is fabricated subjective assumptions and is bristling with lies. It is very surprising that the newspaper printed it.

The article seems vaguely familiar.

Then recognition dawns! It is almost word for word a transcript of what Mr. Motelier was spitting at my doorman early that morning.

It transpired that Mr. Motelier had lurched drunkenly home, taken two-finger aim in the general direction of the keyboard, and put what he had been saying into an email, one spattered wiht the spellngi anf puntcuaiton errora of the drunkn typist, then sent it to the "newsroom". (Hick newspapers in yokel towns don't have newsrooms, they have one room of desks, with about 5 open-plan cubicles.)

The senior journalist at the newspaper had printed it word for word. In that same day's edition. And put her own name on the byline.

The 2-i-c and I had a rather unhappy interview with the senior journalist, where she backed herself further into a corner.

None of what she had written (correction: what had been ghostwritten for her by a drunken motel owner) was true, and could easily be demonstrated to be untrue.

Her story unravelled quite easily. Journalists often aren't good debaters, particularly when they are defending a lie. She had written about what happens inside the Wayside Tavern and on Front Street, between 2 and 3 am.

When asked what she thought of the atmosphere inside the Wayside Tavern at that time of morning she (the "journalist" who had put her name & reputation alongside the research & writing of the article) reacted in a most superior manner:
"I'd never go into your grotty pub at that time of night"

And the words came from her own mouth. It was too easy. Getting her to say it wasn't even challenging.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Professional Motelier

About 1am the owner of the motel staggers accross the street to the Wayside Tavern & stands facing the doorman.

It looks good when replayed on camera. The motelier lurching erratically accross the street, then stands swaying like a palm tree in a strong wind.

By the look of him he's got an entire bottle of scotch inside him.

After a short time (possibly to remember where he was) he begins to berate the doorman. It looks fantastic on camera, stabbing finger pointing, swaying on the feet.

He is carrying on about the "damage done to the street" by the Wayside Tavern. He alleges that drunks are lurching along the street at all hours of the night, that after we close there are people "pouring onto the street, vomiting everywhere, throwing empty beer bottles into gardens, smashing windows" and so on.

The only drunk we've seen on the front street, at any time of the day or night, is Mr. Motelier himself.

None of the allegations are even possible. There are no "gardens" in the CBD, our patrons do not exit onto that street, nor do people carry "beer bottles" out of the Wayside Tavern late at night.

Finally Mr. Motelier, seeing he is not getting anywhere with the doorman, loses his bundle completely & storms off, lurching back accross the street to home.

The camera replay demonstrates that his sense of direction hasn't improved any in the half hour he's spent sobering up at our front door.

Heaven only knows what got into him.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Bankruptcy III


The longest 3 weeks of my life.
Now I can sleep again.

I'll allow another week for anybody to guess what the strife was.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

I'm a Police Officer, I Know Best!

The police "flying squad" (or whatever they are called) of "liquor compliance" officers are in town. These police operate independently to the actual Liquor Licencing dept.

Liquor Licencing cannot be happy with this police squad going around creating havoc, leaving it its wake the impression that it is in cahoots with the Liquor Licencing Division.

The bar manager is at the door, in conversation with the two police "liquor compliance" officers.

A young man fronts up to the door, ready to come in.

One of the "flying squad" officers steps forward & declares the young man "too intoxicated" to be served, and that we must not let him into the pub.

It was a stupid call. The young man had certainly been drinking, but unduly intoxicated he was not. He was a nice young country fellow, wouldn't have been a problem in a pink fit.

We could have ignored the police officer's "suggestion", and enforced our decision to admit the young man. But in the interests of good police relations we didn't.

The only outcome? A decent young man had his evening ruined.

Not only did the police officer have an abrasive attitude and a nasty mentality, he had poor judgement.

Almost every staff member saw what happened. None of them believed the young man was intoxicated.

"And they wonder why they are called Pigs" summed up one of the girls, under her breath.

What the staff saw was a police officer too stupid to judge if someone was blithering drunk.
The astute staff saw a police officer callously lying, then using his badge to enforce that lie.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

We Ain't Got No Jurisdiction....!

Police, particularly the more clueless, may have it in for the pub trade. However there is one demographic in Australia for whom the police seem to really have a special dislike.

The Army.

Put simply: Police loathe soldiers.

Why do the coppers have it in for the army?

Perhaps because civilian police have no power over the armed forces. In a garrison town it may be different, but in the bulk of the nation, if the local copper locks up a solider, nothing much will happen to him, apart from the MP's get a drive in the country to pick him up & then drive him back to the battalion.

That arrested soldier may be officially in trouble, but unless he has actually committed a crime, he'll be viewed somewhat favourably by the MP's, as like all of us, they don't mind:
Forgoing a couple of day's square bashing and saluting.
To go for a drive to the bush & back.
In what is effecitvely their own private Landrover.
With no superior officer in sight.

Of course, if the local coppers pick up a soldier in a garrision city & lock him up, and the MP's have to come & get him, that soldier is in more strife than Flash Gordon.

If a country copper locks up a soldier, there had better be a good reason. Youthful exuberance that does not extend to any actual damage (which is 99% of street or liquor offences) is not enough reason for a junior police officer to start something that will go all the way to the Commissioner's office.

Thus the police are impotent. And soldiers know it, but usually don't press the matter unless the police get out of hand, which police sometimes do.

How much do police actually loathe uniformed soldiers who are out for a drink? They detest them with a passion. The dislike runs deep, is mostly hidden (even some police wives are unaware of it) and the police hatred, when you see it exposed, is confrontingly shocking in its violent intensity.

Unless the soldiers actually assault someone, or commit some other tangible offence, all the police can do is scream at them. Soldiers know they have the option of ignoring the screaming.

It doesn't help the police mood that in such situations they are usually outnumbered by at least 30-to-1. By fit young men. Who have been drinking. And the nearest policeman may be a couple of hours away if he can be bothered waking up to answer the phone.

I've seen it play out a few times. I'm for the soldiers. Very pleasant to watch.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Mastermind it is Not

Mine Host has, for quite some time, been an occassional watcher of the ABC TV show "Q & A"

Beings sans TV it is watched online, in arrears. The benefits of online catch-up are twofold:
(a) The rolling feed of twitter comments accross the bottom of the screen are too small to read, thus the viewing experience is enhanced.
(b) One can keep the show minimized, bringing it up only when it sounds as if it is getting interesting. Thus one can catch the show without having to sacrifice an hour of one's life.

Last Night's panel:
(1) Some previously unknown philosopher. There is a reason he is unknown. His name is already forgotten. His contribution won't be noticed or missed.

(2) Jim Wallace. Former commander of the army's mechanised brigade, former commander of the SAS Regiment. He certainly didn't rise to high command by mistake. He exuded the quiet confidence of a competent achiever. Now a christian lobbyist, but one with his two feet firmly on the ground. Didn't speak any rot, however he has yet to re-jig his points to fit them into a brief soundbite. The student/unemployed contingent of the audience considered him a laughing stock. Considering the (cough) contribution made to the world by students and/or unemployed makes one wish Samurai were still allowed to test the sharpness of their blade by arbitrarily lopping the head off the occassional unworthy whose path may cross theirs.

(3) Kristina Keneally. Former premier of NSW. Didn't realise until this show what an intellectual lightweight she is. It is beyond comprehension that one so shallow was elevated to premier. Of course, she only got the position because the party had no hope of being reelected, and putting up as leader someone who looked very rootable was the only trick they hadn't yet tried. Her contributions to the panel were nothing more than fluff. She has no depth, and certainly no ability. Mine Host will struggle for years with how a political party could promote an uncredentialled airhead such as her to the job of leadership of the nation's most populous state.
She has nothing positive to contribute to any discussion.

(4) Cristina Rad. A Romanian V-logger. Very attractive, and not as clueless as some of the token hot young babes who are invited onto the show. Yet to make her contribution in life, she is a young woman very angry at the world.

(5) Gerard Henderson. The token conservative (though last night sharing the role with Jim Wallace) apt to succinctly point out hypocrisy & inconsistency in the arguments of his detractors, he is not one to debate against without being fully prepared.

Each week there is a supposed theme (last night there was no obvious theme). Questions are taken from the audience & from online submissions. The questions are carefully vetted & the entire show choreographed.

Possibly intended to be a serious current affairs forum, the show in practice it has turned out to be more of a tragicomedy. And that is before it began its current long slide to triviality.