Friday, December 14, 2007

half life

It looks as if I'm entering my last days as a publican for a while. Some papers (though not all) were signed today. The process, as they say in the newspeak, is in place.

I should feel happier I guess, but around every bureaucratic corner seems to loom another red tape mountain.

The week has been rough. When you go to sell a place you've invested a fair bit of your life into, you expect to go through a bit of soul searching yourself, but what you aren't warned about is the effect it has on your staff. I've seen one go through a two week bender, another deliberately try and torpedo the sale and another hand in his notice effective as of my last day. Touching as it is, the little darlings' emotional pyrotechnics haven't made things too easy at rock central. My tenuous grip on sanity took a fair beating (especially during the booker's fairly naked attempt to scare the buyer off) and tonight I'm sitting at home sweating like a rapist and unable to face an evening with the fair punters of Ballarat town.

Sunday, December 2, 2007


One of the joys of the summer season in our fair brown land is BBQ. No more cooking in a hot kitchen all stuffy and steamy, the time has arrived for cooking with the sun on your back, the spicy scented smoke and the compulsory can of beer in hand. I've even taken to doing the saturday morning fry outside. For this replace beer with gatorade if you're feeling a bit tawdry and bask in the double smokyness of barbequed bacon, toast with grill marks on it and crispy bottomed fried eggs.

As part of this embracing of BBQ culture we've found ourselves a butcher. No more crappy cling wrapped carrion from coles and safeway, the local man does great meat and his sausages taste like sausages, not condoms full of plasticine. It also feels good to buy off the little bloke, rather than some faceless conglomerate.

...still waiting

for the sale to go through, My supplies of patience are dwindling but life must continue.

And so it does. The third annual staff party was conducted last sunday and was great craic. We played cricket, ate steak and salad and drank beer and vodka till we were tired. Then we went clubbin'. A surprisingly drama free night it was too, despite the fact the staff must be a bit edgy about the prospect of new ownership. Everyone was in fine spirits sending each other pornographic texts and drinking absinthe. Pretty much everyone was late or didn't show up to something important the next day and I threw up as soon as I got home. A great night.

Went to see a wonderful band from my childhood on Saturday. The Divinyls were a sexy pub rock band if such a thing is possible. Funky rhythm section (of the groove variety, not the million notes a second merchants) a couple sinewy Keith Richards types on guitar (Mark McAtee and old mate Charlie Owen) and the marvellous Ms Chrissie Amphlett on vocals. By turns seductive and abusive, vulnerable and abrasive Amphlett oozes star quality despite her apparently fragile health. Their back catalogue was better than I remembered and even one of the obligatory 'new'songs showed a bit of spark. There is some suggestion Chrissie may have been diagnosed with something pretty serious this week, I hope things work out for her.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

bad blogger

Ok, i've been a touch neglectful of the blog. In my defence life's remained a little crazy. Since I last posted I've farewelled one employee back to Ireland (the lovely Roisin who we miss horribly), nearly sold the pub (knock on wood) and been to an awards night in Melbourne. In addition to that I played my first real show in 3 1/2 years punched the odd wall and done lots of cooking on the BBQ.

Ro's farewell was a great day, BBQ lunch at lake wendouree, cricket and cans of beer then on to murphy's for pints and a sing and then back to Ro & Froggys for more drunken convos and drunker hugs. Struggled through work the next day with a savage hangover but it was well worth it. I'll miss those crazy kids an it will be nice to catch up with them if we make it over to
ireland next year.

The selling of the bar drags on. It's like some ornate, overly mannered oriental dance involving bafflingly obtuse participants and a blushing reluctant bride. My role is that of the husband to be. The lawyers, financiers, acountants and landlords all make unintellible statements simaultaneously while the would be buyer seems scared to actually make a decision. Anyhoo given Ballfornia's excellent gossip service I have been informed several times by people who have nothing to do with it that it is in fact a done deal. We shall see.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


Well the winds of change are a blowin' round these parts. After a lot of soul searching, the girl and i have decided to put the bar on the market. There's a stack of pros & cons but when its all weighed up for the sake of our relationship we need a break from the world of hospitality.

We contacted a bunch of pub brokers a couple of weeks ago, but obviously the Ballarat rumour mill was working overtime ços we've had an offer already. Its still early days so no popping of champagne yet but it's flattering and encouraging to get an offer so quickly.

Monday, October 22, 2007


I've been crazy busy. In a good way too. The bars been jumping silly over the last few weeks. All manner of rockstars have paraded thier wares for the good people of Ballafornia, who generally have attended in good numbers. Its been an interesting cross section of the Oz music industry, from battle scarred veterans to preening prima donnas.

One act was a duo, currently very hot property. They project a hippyish whimsy, with childlike vocals and imagery. Touring with an entourage of partners and friends there was a lot of bare feet and chewing on carrots. And they were a fucking nightmare to deal with. Passive aggressive, demanding and unreasonable, its fascinating how much a bands image can be at variance with their reality. Coupled with a generous dram of incompetence on behalf of a couple of their employees (tripping the three phase by stacking a bass drum against a circuit breaker. Seriously.) I don't think I've ever been happier to see the back of a act.

Thursday, September 27, 2007


Tonight I guess was the end of an era. Not some epoch that resonates with the rest of humanity, but the end of some stuff for me. I kind of have a list of bands that I thought could play my venue that I love and I think I saw the last of those bands tonight. And I dropped a fucking fortune on them while I was at it.

Of course despite the lack of punters (we fell about 50 heads short of the guarantee) they were fabulous. Swamp rock ahoy! The guitars were dirty, the rhythms were were by turns fat and off kilter and Tex sang like the Antipodean bastard son of Howlin' Wolf that he is. The Beasts of Bourbon have mined the dirtier seams of Oz rock since the mid eighties. By turns arrogant, misogynist and charming they are the polar opposite of either the polite nu-folk or desperately corporate emo wankers that comprise so many tours these days. Even at their advanced ages stories of of fisticuffs a couple of shows before and dark murmurs of lifestyle issues are rife. Instead of leaving me stressing over numbers in the office Shaun the booker dragged me out into the bar and in between shots of 'bucca and Jack and Cokes I had my own little wake for the way rock used to be.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

beer wars

Like sex, religion and politics, beer can be an emotive issue. Everyone has opinions and like most matters pubwise, everyone thinks they're right. My bar is affiliated with the Fosters group. Nominally Australian, I believe Asahi and maybe Scottish & Newcastle own large chunks of them and they produce the local drop of choice in Victoria, Carlton Draught. Draught is a solid unpretentious lager that wouldn't meet any European standards for brewing but cellars rather nicely and maintains flavour at almost freezing temperatures. Which is exactly what you want out of an Australian beer. When you sign on the dotted line with Carlton you get access to the rest of their range - Vic Bitter, Melbourne Bitter, Boags & Cascade (both lovely Tasmanian drops), Stella, Asahi, Corona, Kronenbourg and the Matilda Bay range of artisan brews. You can also take on their array of shithouse spirits but unless they throw an absolute truckload of cash at you, you'd be ill advised to do so. They aren't bad to deal with in a lot of ways, they aren't nazi about stocking the whole range and will let you keep other breweries lines in the fridge, with one exception - the old enemy.

The old enemy is Tooheys. Tooheys falls under the Lion Nathan umbrella and if Fosters are the crusty old patriarch of Australian brewing, these guys are the schoolyard bully. They mounted an incursion into Victoria in the 90's which almost destroyed the industry and certainly went a long way towards ruining a lot of excellent traditional boozers. Being predominantly British owned, they went for the British industry model and all hell broke loose. They bought literally hundreds of hotels, remodelled them with blonde wood and chrome, spent millions on state of the art beer dispensing systems and proceeded to try and flog their brews to a reluctant public.

This had a number of consequences. Their flagship beer of the time, Tooheys New tastes weird to Victorians. A mate who is a brewer claims this has something to do with hop oil, but brewers do speak a fair bit of shite so I won't swear to this. Anyway, their machinations were deeply unsuccessful and they had to flog all the pubs off at vast losses a couple of years later. Unfortunately this still left a whole raft of the renovated pubs. Horrible places where a steak sandwich cost $18 and and stale Becks came in a schooner (a vile glass that is neither pint nor pot). It also created unreasonable expectations in the punters - they wanted to see frozen fonts, a vast array of beers on tap and a pub would be judged dingy if it didn't look like an Ikea catalogue. So a great many lovely stinky corner pubs tried to emulate them and have either gone tits up or lost their identity in the process.

One interesting aspect of the vast array of beers on tap phenomenen is peoples willingness to be dazzled by them but their unwillingness to drink them. A theme pub not far from my venue who turn over vast sums of money and have literally 5000 heads through a week reportedly took 4 months to empty a keg of Boddingtons. I wouldn't like to have been the punter who choked down that last pint. Or the glassy who had to mop up the ensuing vomit.


The little sister is getting married on Tuesday. Little sister, after years of unsuitable boyfriends (generally my dodgy mates) has decided to marry a man called Rick. Rick is a lovely fella, in truth he's actually another of my dodgy mates but he moved to Melbourne a few years ago and I'd kinda lost contact with him. Little sister ran into him at a few rock shows in Melbourne and bada bing bada boom I've got's me a brother in law that is good company and whose bad habits I'm not only aware of but at one time aided and abetted.

In some ways its Rick I feel sorry for. My family are pretty odd I guess. Parents are both conservative catholic teetotallers, not very social and kind of odd. There's no swearing at home, the telly gets switched off at the first glimpse of boob and I still haven't had that chat about the birds and the bees with Dad. In fact they dispensed with telly altogether for the eighties which was hard to explain at school and has left me a wasteland as far as pop culture goes for that decade. Other foibles included an urge to pray the rosary whenever you had mates out to stay and Mam firing copious amounts of holy water at you every time you went to go into town. My relationship with them is weird too - they didn't speak to me for nearly 3 years when Lize and I moved in together and while we get on alright now we still don't mention the war. Mam's family are kind of big on not speaking and I believe that currently Mam and at least two sisters are involved in some kind of three way embargo. So Rick, welcome aboard mate and good luck.

Monday, September 17, 2007


Shaun the booker has been helping out on the Powderfinger/Silverchair tour that came through Ballarat last night. He's had an intersting time of it, with council dramas, mini hurricanes forcing the show to be postponed and all the hoopla that a major tour creates.

So I copped a comp ticket and wandered over for a look last night. The production was fantastic, it's amazing how lighting and LED screens that were the preserve of bilion dollar tourers like the Stones and U2 are now within reach for acts of this size. There would have been 5000 heads there and whilst standing up the back with my feet slowly turning to ice I realised while I really didn't like either of the bands that much, I was just entranced by the lighting and projection. I snuck off to the pub 3 songs into Powderfingers' set and proceeded unwisely to warm myself up with copious amounts of Bushmills.

Sunday, September 16, 2007


I've got on the Facebook. Its kind of fun, lots less spam than myspace and less pornstars and pyramid schemes trying to friend you. Bits of it weird me out. Everyone has seems to have a degree, be either travelling or about to travel, and be rather pretty. I miss out on all three scores but I'm amusing myself anyway. Networking setups like this are I guess a relative of the blog. There's the elements of voyeurism/narcissism/exhibitionism. The constant search for trivia and ephemera.....

Maybe it doesn't pay too think about it too much, but you kind of wonder how much information about each other we need. I worry about the day someone I know reads this, gets upset or angry by something I've said. Having said that I probably wouldn't stop. The fact that blogging forces me to sit down and think about what I've thought and done in the last week is probably a good thing. Even if it is just bitching.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

i got nothin'

Sometimes you don't got anything worthwhile to say. Just a bunch of fragments with little import or humour or consequence. In a small town there can be little variation to your activity or maybe I'm just a boring person. I ended up drunk at the same pub I usually do last Monday. I got stressed about work finances as usual when I went to pay bills on Tuesday. Yet another one of our mates told us he has had to start taking anti depressants. Dodgy business associate offered a deal to get us a share in a melbourne venue that will probably amount to nothing if previous offers are anything to go by. Physically I feel crap. My football side are making me feel nervous. Someone is stealing from us at work. Its incredibly windy outside. Ate Jasmine Thai satay last night - delicious. Like I said - I got nothin'.

Monday, September 3, 2007

A letter to St Paul

Dear Paul

I went to a show you played in Ballarat last night. You've always been a special musician in my life. Darling it hurts, the song you finished with was the first 7" I bought with my own money. The first rock show I saw when I moved Melbourne when I was 17 was you playing the St Kilda festival. The first time (sadly not the last) I smoked pot laced with something nasty was at a benefit you played at the POW. I've seen you play a bunch of other times, bought a bunch of your records and covered a few of your songs in dodgy bands. I even lived around the corner from you in Balaclava for a while. We were on nodding terms or at least I'd like to think so. So Paul as far as fans go I am consistent but not obsessive. I work in your industry, my ears are experienced if a little jaded and I like to kid myself that once in a while I know what I'm talking about. So mate I've got to let you know - you were fucking fantastic last night.

Not fantastic in a hot new thing way. Fantastic in a grown up, sexy, bitter, dry, funny and vulnerable way. My friend you are at the peak of your craft. Your voice has never sounded better. The rhythm section are in the pocket and Dan and Ash are still young enough to mean what they play. But at the guts of it is your writing.

Songs old and new. I love how you can still craft a lyric, construct a story and step inside a character (and sometimes yourself) and drag us with you. Whether its a guy in jail missing the kids, Koori painters, single dads, psycho killers, lonely drunks, hopeless junkie hookers, stuggling couples or any of the other characters that inhabit your work we cry and cheer and ride with them. That is a special talent. Empathy seems to be an increasingly rare quality this century, but you seem to have bucketloads of it. Enough to go round a whole room full of people.

So Paul I walked out of your show a happy guy. I'll probably sit through another 150 shows in the next year. I won't enjoy many of them - I'll be working and honestly I'm not connecting with a lot of whats happening at the moment in JJJ world. But when it's been a tough night, when there hasn't been many payers through the gate or the PAs playing up I'm gonna try to think back to last night when you made me cry and laugh and stamp my feet. And I reckon it'll help.



Friday, August 31, 2007


I got a weird email yesterday. I've had the flu this week and haven't been to work. The booker wrote me an email detailing how many people are concerned about me and how my lifestyle to quote Met***ica could become my deathstyle. I'm a big fucker for sure. 150 kilos. I'm asthmatic and I smoke. I get fuck all excercise. But I don't feel like I'm going to die anytime soon. I know that's probably naive and stupid but I kind of have to believe that or I'll go mad. If I was to look in the mirror every day and say Paddy my friend, you're a morbidly obese smoking asthmatic who'll be lucky if he sees fifty I'd probably neck myself on the spot. I know I have to change. But I can't lose faith completely or I'll throw in the towel. I know this doesn't make sense and I have to change. But don't crush me completely kid. I'm more fragile than I look.

Sunday, August 26, 2007


Sometimes you feel your life turning into a loop. Get up, work, TV, bed, punctuated by the odd shag, argument or night on the turps. In the spirit of breaking the loop, Lize and I decided to go to the zoo.

We haven't been for years, since maybe the early nineties. So taking a punt on what looked like potentially bad weather we drove to Melbourne early last Tuesday. And had a bloody awesome day.

Melbourne zoo is on the whole a pretty modern zoo, with environments rather than enclosures and none of the sad looking critters that I associate with zoos from my childhood. We saw some very perky Meercats, some noisy aggressive otters and a cougar who is the dead spit of Steve French off Trailer Park Boys. Checking out the gorillas I had the strange experience of being double taked by an adolescent male. I think it might be time for a shave and a haircut when the primates start looking at me like a long lost brother. The same gorilla was a pretty wound up dude, smacking the glass when a little girl walked up and then jumpimg back with a WTF gesture. Cool as.

The elephants were awesome. We arrived just as they were being excercised. Four elephants were walking from one paddock to another with their keepers trunk to tail (which looked way cute) and climbing up and over hillocks and logs and such to keep in shape. The keepers seemed to give Thai commands to elephants which was interesting.

The butterfly house was excellent if steamy, the frogs reeked to high heaven and had a great moment with Lize alone in the platypus exhibit (no not that sort of moment) where we watched two platypuses play like crazy things in perfect silence in almost total darkness. These little guys are so shy it was great to see them goofing around without kids banging on the glass freaking them out.

Speaking of kids we were lucky there wasn't too many school groups to give us the shits. One thing I did point out to Lize was the amount of yummy mummys around. A single dude with a tolerance for kiddies could do well with some chivalrous pram assistance I reckon. Any way after seeing the male lion totally lose it at one of the younger ones we headed home. My feet and legs were sore as hell but it was great for me to do that much excerise and Lize seemed to come home pretty happy too.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Bringing Gothy Back

Went and saw the Cure sunday night. 3 hours of 4 middle aged blokes playing like absolute champions. Fat Bob was in fine fettle, Porl & Simon were more rock than they had a right to be and the new drummer was pretty good. Stacks of old stuff and non single material, i reckon the played at least 6 songs off kiss me and prolly 5 off head on the door. Walked out feeling chipper which is odd given their reputation for gloom. The combination of pop and misery makes you feel tops though.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007


I have shit teeth. Really shit. Like Shane McGowan's or Keith Richard's. Lots of cortisone, booze, smokes and a pathological fear of dentists doesn't help. So now I've got buggerall left. It's embarrassing, painful and I kind of hate myself but at the moment there's not much I can do. It will cost a few grand to get myself sorted out and that's not an option at the moment. So here I am a toothless tiger. Without the tiger.

Unfortunately with dental neglect comes a world of pain. The last two weeks have seen me eating codeine like a bastard and drinking to blackout a couple of times. Tonight I'm gonna stay of the pain killers and try and get a bit of sense back into myself.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

pissed and pissed off

Fair enough I've had half a dozen shots or so of sambucca. And its been a long week. But Jesus Christ I've had a gutful.

Worked all bloody night to have the pub looking tip top. Candles, little bowls of lollies on the tables, a very decent act from Melbourne playing after Trivia (free entry mind, these guys are a $12 ticket on all the other shows on the tour), $4.50 pints in happy hour and you'd think a few would turn up. Did they fuck.

40 or so happy souls filtered in for a night that honestly deserved at least 150. I've had enough. The general public can go fuck themselves. I know I should roll wth the punches and I generally do but there comes a point where I think I'm past running a fucking charity. Fuck this I'm going to do more shots.

Monday, July 16, 2007


It snowed in Ballarat this morning. When I rolled out of bed at 9 this morning (with a full bladder and a sore head) big fat feathery flakes were whirling around the back yard. I dragged Lize out of bed and we stood out in the freezing cold air digging the awesomeness of snow.It happens so rarely its kind of thrilling. It settled for an hour or so then sadly the rain started pissing down and ruined the effect. But for a little while we had our own winter wonderland.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Christmas in July

One of our barstaff Roisin is out here from Galway living with her lad Jamie 'the Frog' O'Neill. They're a lovely couple. I've known Froggy since the Bridge Mall Inn days when he drummed for psych rockers the Silmarils, who've since mutated into the Red Cents. Anyhoo, Ro has slotted in really well to the bar. She's a real gun behind the jump and great fun to booze with after work.She's become great mates with Nick, Jules and Lize so when the cold weather made her homesick and put her in mind of Christmas the idea of a Christmas in July was jumped at. Ro and Froggy are pretty skint (the bar's her only job and Froggys doing his PHD) but they managed to put on one of the most heartwarming and plain fun nights I've had in ages.

I cooked a big fuck off ham for the night - basted in orange juice and glazed with seed mustard it went down a treat and was visually arresting. Liam snagged a massive turkey (4.5k boned!!) and there were other meats, masses of roast vegetables, gravy and Ro's steaming cauldron of mulled wine, plus a few bottles, beers and hot whiskies. Massive. Oh yeah and Jules made mud cake for afters. There was a dozen of us there ranging from 19 - 36 and it was kind of sweet to see a bunch of what are essentially Gen X/Y misfits acting like family in our own way. No sleaziness or fights. Singing beatles tunes on Froggies old guitar and the girls dancing around the lounge room to Stevie Wonder. Warmed the cockles it did. And made me feel happier than I have in a while.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

smoke free, wet and other stuff

Well it's the first week of smoke free bars in sunny Victoria. There hasn't been as much upheaval as we thought thus far but it is early days I guess. Data from Ireland suggests it's the country "real" pubs that get hit hardest so we shall see. Reading the Snug blog this arvo the writer suggested a number of around 500 rural pub closures over there since the bans kicked in 3 years ago. Speaking selfishly hopefully our little band venue/late night watering hole doesn't get hit too hard.

Went to Murphy's on monday to test the vibe - it does seem weird to be leaving the bar when you want a fag. I reckon I was a bit on edge and drank less as a consequence. Also checked out gambling palace Zagames where Cossie observed the outdoor smoking area was preferable for the lack of slot machine noise and the lack of bug eyed gimps (his words) staring at you after they've flushed a weeks wages down the slots.

I've had a bugger of a toothache for the last three days and have been wandering about in a codeine daze. The rain seems very soothing thru the fug and hell there seems to be plenty of it.Lakes Entrance where Lize and I used to holiday in our pre pub days has had a mini New Orleans style flood and the rains showing no signs of abating here.

Thursday, June 21, 2007


its been a meh week. Nick's been on holidays recuperating from his Paris Hilton incident (see previous post) and Lize and I are filling his shifts while both suffering from vague maladies and general malaise. I'm sick of the sight of the bar to be honest and when I copped a dose of the squits tonight went home when I probably should have stayed. Of course the phone's run hot since - the ladies shitters backed up, 13 uninvited VIPs from JB HiFi turned up (Rachel from Universal said it was fine, honest) and the bands ran 1/2 an hour late. Still I think Lize has made it thru ok and and the numbers so far seem good. Lize tells me Nick's back on the sauce God love him so I guess he's feeling less guilty than last week.

I've worked in bars since 1996 now and Í'm going thru one of those phases when I question why we bother. It sure as fuck isn't for the money - we're way poorer than we were before we opened this one. You're taxed to bejusus, pay every possible levy, permit, insurance, licence fee and every other government sponsored shakedown and every quarter the price of wholesale alcohol increases. Meanwhile discount liquor chains punt out take away booze at loss leader prices that make drinking in pubs plain uneconomic for the kids (or anyone else for that matter). The price I pay at the brewery for a case of VB is $2.50 dearer than the public pay at Dan Murphy's. It makes it tough I tells ya. And before anyone beseiges me with greedy publican stories I know most of them - I run a band venue and drive a ten year old Barina that is battered to buggery so I feel exempt.

The catch is that I'm probably not qualified for anything else so I'm stuck here I suppose. And I know the day I do quit the moaning will start - why don't bands come to our town/we've got nowhere safe to drink/k****** was awesome why did it shut yada yada......

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

the kids aren't alright

No they most certainly fucking are not. Nick, my trusty barkeep and all round lovely kid made a massive mistake on Monday night. After drinking long and deeply at another bar's staff party Nick jumped into a car (his parents) drove it and crashed it. He got banged up a bit but thank God did not injure/maim/kill anyone else or himself. However the cops picked him up and his poor folks car is a write off. I want to hug him and punch him by turns. The poor silly prick.

Then there's my little brother. Acute pancreatitis had him hospitalised for a week until today and Lize tells me the stupid bastard was swanning around the pub without a care in the world tonight.

I just want to scream.

Friday, June 8, 2007

coopers vintage

had a crack at the coopers 2004 vintage ale last night. I was joined by old mate Rudds and for the first time in a while settled down to a pleasant evening of watching the footy (Essendon over West Coast by a point) and a bit of a yarn. No womenfolk were present and talk hearkened back to the halcyon days of the mid-nineties when our lives centred around gigs/drinking/kfc/couch and work was pouring beers hungover for ten bucks an hour. Happy days.

We had a bit of a listen to the Cult and in the cold hard light of day I stand by my assertion that Rick Rubin's production on Wildflower is a benchmark for awesome rockingness. My efforts to 'conduct' the guitar solo as if it were a piece of classical music are best glossed over though. Rudds gave some Junior Kimbrough a spin and damn that guy cooks a real darkness in his tunes. Awesome stuff.

Anyway back to the Coopers ale. I'm no beer snob (I find a lot of microbrews over rated) and I really only drink Coopers in Adelaide (pale on tap). That said I reckon this vintage ale is one of the nicest things I've ever tasted. It was 7.5% alcohol and drank like you were chewing a snickers. It was pretty dark and unlike most beers I felt no compulsion to switch to whiskey after 2 or 3. It also left me pretty dry this morning but no headache so a double thumbs up to this brew.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

the big angry

sunday night was a funny old evening. We had one of our six monthly staff meetings/pissups kicking off about 7pm at the pub. well attended and positive vibes all round. Shaun the booker gave a cracker of speech based on his attendance at an award ceremony sponsored by a popular bourbon maker in sydney the week before. He gave great perspective on how our venue is viewed by the bands who play there and we all had the warm fuzzies on by the end of it. So far so good. We all then wandered around the corner to the local plastic paddy pub to dump the contents of the tip jar on the bar, drink deeply and indulge in large platters of deep fried goodness.

Fast forward 2 hours and we've fucked about $700 worth of tips between 20 people and things start getting a little lairy. I'm stil drinking off a hangover from the night before so I'm a little behind but I can see the mood is a little variable. One of our bouncers (who used to work at the plastic paddy pub) has sighted a couple of irish lads who got a touch fightative on Paddy's day and is making noises about belting one. Nick's getting in his grill about it (fair enough too) and two of Nick's other mates have arrived pretty messy simaultaneously. Chewy is doing her Pussycat Dolls dance to the fascination of every dude in the place and Lize and Jules appear to be having a very loud convo about, well lets say a very uncomfortable way of making love. This is also fascinating the male barstaff. (it emerges later the shafting they were referring too was metaphorical rather than physical, but you could have fooled me at the time.)

Anyway everything is happening at once when when all hell breaks loose in the men's toilets. Angry bouncer boy has followed one of the irish lads into the toilets and roughly a dozen on duty bouncers, barstaff and concerned onlookers have all piled in after them prevent trouble. Cue much throwing of the hands in the air, protestations of innocence and lengthy meaningless arguments outside the pub. Time to move on.

After apologising to all concerned I decide it time to move on to the club around the corner. This venue is rather new and feels it unneccessary to have security on any but the busiest of nights. This is to prove somewhat of a hindrance to my enjoyment of the evening as the night wears on. All is going swimmingly - the drinks are too dear, the music is too loud and one of former saff members is the harried sole barman behind the jump. Nick's two mates have come with us and this is where shit gets messy. One of them, who we'll call the Serbian has had a rough trot of late. He's slept with girls he shouldn't have, drank too much, drugged too much, his folks have split up and he's finished uni and managed to get sacked from his first job already. He and Nick begin having an animated discussion and disappear outside. I don't think anything of it, they do this all the time but after half an hour Nick can't be found. I'm breathlessly informed by one of their social circle that Nick has gone home after the Serbian had punched him twice in the face.

Now dear readers, if any of you know me, you will be aware of my placid nature. My patience and tolerance are famous within the small bounds of my circle of acquaintances. But when I caught sight of the Serbian calmly quaffing a pot of cold beer at the bar after maiming my dear friend and valued colleague my blood fairly boiled. Steam issued from ears, red mist descended and the old hackles well they rose too. I issued instructions through a third party that if the serbian didn't depart immediately I would want to know why.

Well the cheeky little fucker ignored me. What happens immediately after this is a touch hazy. Apparently I grabbed him less than gently and barreled him out the door and was waxing lyrical on his shortcomings as a human being when the cavalry arrived. I was restrained from hammering the little bugger by my bemused staff and the Serbian was dragged away into the night howling threats. I must have tipped down a dozen Jacks afterwards and smoked half a pack of fags trying to calm down. Full credit to Lizey and big Liam for holding the hand of man incoherent with sadness and anger for the next hour.

Anyway the wash up is as follows - apologetic texts have been despatched and a state of truce exists. I feel ridiculous and still a little angry. And that club around the corner better fucking lift their game security wise - letting people walk back into your bar after belting someone is a recipe for trouble and plain silly.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

10 things

i guess i should do one of these 10 things you don't know about me posts. This might seem less like yelling into a vacuum for me and if anyone ever reads this it might give some context.

1 I spent my prinary school years in Ahakeera in West Cork, Ireland. My Mam is Irish and that part of my heritage is pretty important to me.

2 I'm a damn good cook but I'm horribly afraid of Asian Cuisine.

3 I am a passable player of guitar, bass and mandolin and have a bit of a knack for production and songwriting. My absolute retardness around technology makes these abilities pretty redundant.

4 I drive slower than your granny.

5 Ventolin keeps me alive. Cigarettes try to kill me.

6 I like Ribena in my Guinness like a big girl.

7 I've been married for 10 years and I think she still likes me.

8 I'm useless around the house.

9 I'm terrified of the ATO, death and polo necks.

10 I think the Coodabeen Champions are funnier than the Chaser. (but not by much)


Cooked up the best meal I've had in ages tonight. A nice big lump of topside beef done rosy pink, crispy spuds with thyme, roasted parsnip, carrot, kumara and a fuck off tasty gravy made with red wine and the pan juices and other bits and bobs. Probably because our stupid hours and our refusal to act like grown ups Lize and I don't have meals like this very often. When we do though we bloody love them though. The only pity was we still felt too seedy to crack a bottle of red. So we had pints of water with our pimped out roast which was a bit sad.

sunday morning coming down

what a hell of a couple of days. Put in three nights straight at the pub for the first time in 10 days and i'm feeling a bit stiff afterwards. the fact we bevvied on pretty heavily sunday morning probably doesn't help but to be honest i was just happy to be in my business and help nick the bar manager and the kids out a bit.

There have been times over the last few months where owning and running a live music venue has been the last thing i wanted to do. Constant financial pressure, the Ballarat punters tendency to demand top line artists and then stay away in droves and my increasing health dramas have all combined to make it tough. Saturday was one of those nights that gives you hope though - the genuine buzz on the Dukes when they came offstage thanks to a bumper enthusiastic young crowd and an awesome night of cheery (on the whole) punters hanging out till very late. The coffers were filled (et least enough to keep the Tax Beast at bay for a couple of weeks) and it was smiles all round after work and I gave the jack and cokes a fair lash.

Lize, Nick and I went to léspresso for brekky and the bonhomie continued. Pleasantries were even exchanged with the theme pub up the road people.
Prior to this point relations have been strained (well they wanted to kill Nick anyway) so this was a nice thing. Pancakes and bacon were ace but teh bloody marys hurt me a touch but all in all a great end to the week.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


an absolute stinker of a day. On the positive side of things it rained, and Lize and I got to hang out for an few hours at night have a drink and listen to records. Unfortunately the reason we saw fit to booze on a Tuesday night was a traumatic call from our previous accountant had made getting out of our skulls pretty much a neccessity.

Monday, May 14, 2007

first crack

I'm a 35 year old fat bloke from Ballarat who runs a bar. I guess want to have a go at blogging for the usual reasons - vanity, venting and to see if I can sustain any sort of writing over a period of time. I'm shithouse at teh old interweb so don't be coming here looking for links and photos and the like. Unless I learn something new and that ain't likely.

I don't think I'l name the bar I run yet, customers or worse still bands who play there might stumble across this and be offended or start badgering for shows. Having said we have bands probably gives it away anyhoo ços the live scene in Ballarat ain't exactly the Sunset Strip.

Thanks to combining the joy of gasro enteritis and a heavy cold into the one week there was no rock and roll for me last week. Three nights on the couch in the warming glow of cable telly punctuated by frantic sprints to the shitter/bone shaking coughing fits has left me almost missing the happy squeals of sound engineers tweaking a PA eq for an hour to have it sound the same as it did when they walked in.

I shouldn't whine about the job though. Since I was 12 I wanted to be a rockstar and due to a number of factors (lack of talent, looks and application) that didn't work out. But instead I've managed to eke out a living over the last 11 years initially working in and subsequently owning a live music venue. So sometimes you get to buy people whose records you love a drink or hear new stuff that blows your mind. That's the good bits in a nutshell.