Thursday, December 25, 2008


i'm tired, aching and a bit pissed. I'm also grinning like a fool. The pub is open and trading and its all mine. Happy Christmas folks. I'm going to bed.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

stuck in the middle

we're meant to settle on the lease for the pub today. But as the clock ticks towards 3pm that looks less and less likely. The landlord seems to be selectively AWOL - unavailable to sign lease transfers and the like, and mysteriously close when it comes to picking holes in insurance proposals. Still theres no reason for him to hurry. As a matter of fact there might be some reasons for him not to. The existing tenants, from whom I'm buying the business, don't seem to have the scratch to pay this months rent. If he stretches the process out another week - not difficult seeing the lawyers start loading up the BMWs and heading for Portsea and Lorne by Tuesday arvo in readiness for the Christmas break - the poor buggers will be in full breach of the lease.

That leaves the landlord (if he chooses) in a position to change the locks and sell the business to me directly - a situation that wouldn't faze me personally but would be horrible for the poor girls in the pub. I might be reading more in to the guy's actions than there is, but I do have a sneaking suspicion something may be afoot...

Sunday, December 14, 2008


lize's Christmas do on Friday night was a god almighty fucking bore. It was at a reception joint with a couple of other office Christmas parties, no free booze and some pretty staid punters. The lads entertaining sounded like they'd laced their Milo with opiates. Their piano muzak version of the Wind Cries Mary nearly had me in tears, for all the wrong reasons. General consensus around our end of the table was of an overwhelming sickly sweetness in the case of both the fish and the beef. A pre opened bottle of red and some confusion as to what actually constitutes rum didn't endear the barstaff to our group either. That said, Lize's work colleagues are a nice bunch who all seemed to find it equally dull. I think Lize misses the bar Christmas parties that always exciting even though someone always seemed to end up in casualty or having to make bail for a bar manager.

The upside of the quiet friday was we were very chipper heading off the Lize's family Christmas the next day. Held early due to imminent births and interstate trips for a couple of siblings, the day was a tremendously civilized excercise in nice drinks and lovely food. Red wine aplenty, duck, goose, turkey and ham with all the trimmings, pudding and rum cream constituted the main fare. Lize and I made a big jug of our current fave cocktail, comprising vodka, chambord, grand marnier, cranberry juice, fresh basil and cracked pepper. The Bing Crosby got a good lash on the ipod and the party didn't wind down till midnight.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

pub time

it's getting close. If the vendor is sufficiently organised, the transfer will take place on Monday. The powers that be have deemed me to be a person of good character (chortle, etc) and approved the license. Suppliers are poised to deliver truckfuls of liquor and my nervous energy is building. Fingers crossed.

Before I get into the pub there is the small matter of surviving the weekend. Two Christmas parties (one for Lize's work, another with her family), a shitload of present shopping and the stocking of the larder with various seasonal treats and beverages must take place. I've got everything but time.

Monday, December 8, 2008

the boys in the NYPD choir...

weren't singing Galway Bay today. They were too busy seperating two warring parties of westies at 6pm on a monday arvo outside Safeway. Some spilt Red Bear cans and a bit of blood on the footpath. Happy Christmas!

Lize is well into the festive thing. Our house looks like Santa's grotto but tasteful and the girl has been a decorating whirlwind the last few days. Still, it took her four days to find the R2D2 i snuck into the nativity scene. She also bought a "cute" set of antlers for our poor bastard of a dog. I was was going to launch into a long and confused diatribe on anthromorphising poor wee animals but he looked so uncomfortable and pathetic and her eyes were all shiny so I let it go. She's also making christmas crackers with booze in them (a good thing) and stressing about presents (a bad thing).

Me, I'm looking forward to my pub, ruminating on what marinade I'm going to use on the ham and looking forward to getting off my box on Christmas day.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

drogging blunk

alright kids, so I've had a few.....

- That joke isn't funny any more is the absolute peak of the Smiths output, both musically and lyrically. Likewise the tune Build presents the Housemartins at their peak.

- Listening to one song by the the Beasts of Bourbon will leave you feeling dirtier than a week staggering around the fleshpots of Patpong.

- Buying a pub is easier than it sounds.

- Cooking your wife a piece of grilled atlantic salmon with a greek salad will get you more loving than a fat wallet and a Ferrari.

- Playing the stockmarket is like throwing money into a poker machine with alzheimers.

- Blogging is like wanking with the curtains half closed. You want a few people to notice, but not too many. And certainly no-one you know.

- Ecstasy is the opium of the masses. Opiates are reserved for genuine fuckwits.

- In a restaurant order your steak rare if you prefer it medium. In pubs, if you like your steak rare, order chicken.

- White wine is for the ladies and fish fanciers. And poofs.

- D minor is not the saddest of all keys. A minor is far sadder. And easier to write in.

- Fat people hate their belly being touched. Seriously.


Saturday, November 29, 2008

young love

our mates Tristan and Kristen got married on Saturday. It was a bloody beautiful day. They had the ceremony on a jetty the runs into a dam on Kristen's Dad's farm, and then an afternoon tea in a marquee nearby. Everyone had their own kooky old teacup and there were scones and sandwiches and beer and champagne. Oh yeah and the wedding cake was in the shape of the Tardis. Later on there was an afterparty at the Peter Lalor Hotel, where Ruddo's band the Rye Catchers played a ripping good set and Tristan's best man Gaz rocked the decks afterwards. We were a happy bunch of drunks that staggered down to Karova in the wee hours.

I've really enjoyed the last few weddings I've been too, which is odd because I used to bloody dread them. They've all been quite different, some small, some large but I guess they've had some common themes. One of those being nice people who love each other of course but the other factor has been critical - none have taken the traditional wedding reception format. Kudos to the marrying kiddies for the original event planning. Jaded old thirtysomethings appreciate it,

Friday, November 28, 2008

Good Vibrations

things are getting better. Not in any obvious way, but maybe I'm just learning to march to the beat of a different drum. A lot of people have shown me a lot of love in the last week. Lize has been awesome, a real mate when I've been doing it a bit tough. Not in a girly adoring way, but in a happy to drink three bottles of red with me and put up with my whining way. Old mates Matt Stone, Liam, Nick and Ruddo have borne the rest of it and been witty, comforting and excellent men whose tolerance for me is admirable. While the world is full of excellent people I've got no excuses for self pity. The old man is a tough boy and I've got to man up, go about my business and be there for the guy. Positive vibes only as Big Pussy said in the Sopranos.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Bad Moon Rising

it's been a weird week. I've been drunk a lot, done a load of work and had moments of frustration but very little elation. The pub takeover is mired down in a three way contractual wrangle that is playing out like a poker game in a bad movie. There have been a couple of moments where I've been close to kicking the table over and stalking off a la John Wayne but for the moment I'm keeping the red mist in check.

Haven't heard from Dad and have been kind of too scared of breaking down to call. I might go out there on Monday.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


lize and I went out to my sister's place last Sunday. Tess, her husband Scott, my nephew Declan and my Dad all have birthdays within a week of each other, so a combined party much like those Korean mass weddings you see on the telly is in order. It was a really nice day. Kids tearing about hopped up on fanta and fairy cakes, oldies drinking cuppas and chatting. Dad followed me as I walked out for a smoke, made his usual comments about me needing to give them away and then dropped it on me. He's got emphysema. Same as his Dad and and his grandfather. He hasn't smoked for twenty years. He'd been sick a lot this year which was odd for him. Normally he's felling trees and wrestling livestock and generally being the mad old country boy he is. He said the prognosis is open - there's no timeframe yet. I couldn't talk for a bit. I put my hand on his shoulder and asked him was he ok. He said yes. Said Mum's dealing with it ok. I went back inside and we left after a bit.

I'm still numb. The inevitable stuff is staring the poor bloke in the face. He sat and watched his Dad go the same way. He has a pretty fair idea what what his last months, weeks, days, hours and minutes are going to be like.

He smiled at me and patted me on the shoulder on Sunday when we were about to get in the car. He's more of a man than I'll ever be.

Monday, November 17, 2008

inbetween days

other bits of life continue in between the incessant meetings, phone calls and mountains of paperwork. Last night Lize's mate Heidi came over for tea. Heidi lived with us for a while when she was between houses and is funny little bugger. She's a walking contradiction of a kid, who grew up dirt poor but dresses like a million bucks, is the ditziest blonde I know that has a psychologist's degree and has no confidence but at the same time can talk you into a coma. I knocked up some pasta and we had a bottle of wine while she showed us photos of her recent trip to China, Europe and other such foreign parts. Much as we love the kid, it did leave us wondering whether some short geography and history courses should be mandatory for young travellers. Like many of her generation, Heidi had plenty of interesting experiences on her travels, but had very little context or explanation for a lot of the things she had photos of. She had however been to a totally awesome nightclub somewhere in Spain!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

from boiled lollies to chocolates

yet another call from the lady selling the pub. No tears this time. Jubilation. The landlord has caved in - apparently we've six months to paint the pub after the transfer of lease. My happiness was short lived - she followed this with the statement (not request) that we'd take possession this Friday. Never mind the fact the license transfer hasn't been approved, no inspections done and no contracts signed. And not a cent has changed hands. I was literally speechless. After a suitable pause I stammered that I'd look into it and we'll have a chat on Monday. I hang up and realise I'm dealing with someone who has lost the fucking plot. A theory confirmed when a mate texts me a few hours later saying he can't wait to have a beer with me when I take over my new pub on Friday.

I'm dreading our little chat on Monday.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


the weather has turned hot, dusty and very unpleasant. There's a dry gusty north wind putting grit on everything and two minutes after a shower you're lathered in sweat again. It's the sort of weather that puts people on edge and makes tempers fray. In another month or so we'd call it bushfire weather, but luckily there's still enough greenery about to minimise that risk.

But certainly does seem to be affecting people's moods. I fielded a batch of calls today, mainly from my long suffering solicitor who predicts a long and difficult journey toward obtaining this pub lease. He said he's looking forward to a good scrap though, and sounded pretty positive about the eventual outcome. I just have to be patient. Unfortunately my version of patience constitutes relentless pacing, compulsive smoking and various other obsessive behaviours. Anyway then came a most unexpected call. The vendor. In tears. Worried I was going to back out of the deal... It was a really difficult one to field to be honest. I was able to reassure her that yes I'm still keen, but no I can't fix the problems between her and the landlord. It slowly dawned on her over the course the call that it makes no difference to me whether I deal with her or directly with the landlord if he chucks her out. Hopefully this might give her a bit of clarity about what she has to do. I'm a real pushover for tears, and it took all my self control not to just say dry your eyes girl, here's a big bucket of money. Hopefully she can get herself sorted and it pans out ok for her. Business kind of sucks sometimes.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Ramping up

today I got approached by another chef. I kind of put him on the long finger, given I've already made a decision but it was nice to firstly have yet another option and secondly have good people approaching me for a gig. He was kind enough to want to meet me at a pub so I'm pleasantly buzzing after a few pints of cider and a wee nip.

I also went throgh the motions with the city council today, putting in request for permits and the like. They have very precise ideas on the table size for outdoor dining. Apparently if the tables measure more than 90cm x 90cm a crack will occur in the space time continuum and we'll all be sucked into another dimension. Or at the very least incur a fine from the bylaws officer. Either way it's very serious stuff.

Monday, November 10, 2008

the big dance

the gears are starting to turn - I finally had contact with the seller's solicitor today. Apparently a contract of sale is being drawn up as we speak. I feel excited and nervous. I've done a lot of the spadework - formed a company, secured chefs, alerted suppiers, opened bank accounts, organised a cash machine. The devil will be in the details of this contract. In the course of a couple of minutes conversation today it became fairly obvious they hadn't given their solicitor an accurate picture of how messy things with their lease. This is going to mean negotiations are going to be between three parties, not the normal two.

The other challenge will be less tangible, and harder to plan for. The extent to which I modify the existing culture of the pub and the willingness of the locals to embrace change is going to be tricky. Obviously the existing clientele aren't numerous or lucrative but ideally you want at least some of them to stay with you on the journey. The concept of the local is a fluid one, and it's easy enough to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Friday, November 7, 2008

the cream and the crock

went out with Vicky, Andrew and other Darrell from Lize's work last night. The evening was a two part affair. Dinner and a show. The dinner bit was at Da Vinci's, a hitherto dependable Italian eatery where my little sis used to work back in the day. I've always dug the place, its comfy, friendly and unchallenging. Last night sadly was a bit of a shocker. The computer what does everything crashed apparently and the old pens and paper posed a fair challenge for the young uns waiting. Drink orders were taken, then taken again and again. Food orders were taken as our parched tongues lolled in a tell tale manner, still no drinks. It was the computer you see. No drinks. The drinks and the food arrived about the same time. Everyone liked theirs except for me. My pasta, a tortellini romana was in the grip of a sauce drought and tasted very similar to the tortellini you get in the fresh pasta section at Woolies. Then the plate snatcher made his appearance. A hand snaked in between myself and Andrew and woosh the plates were gone. My forkful of food paused in mid-air. It was obviously time to go. If it was 11 I would have said fair enough but it was ten to fucking nine! Like good punters we took it laying down and didn't give any guff. They just ain't gonna see us for a while.

The show part of the evening was great fun though. You Am I played a storming set full of unexpected song choices and cracking harmonies. Davey Lane was in fine form on the Telecaster and Tim Rogers confirmed his place for me as one of the great Oz rock frontmen. Witty, lewd and occasionally vulnerable he sang with a clarity he's missed since late nineties and seemed much more comfortable in his skin. Gunslingers off the Convicts record was a real highlight as was the torchy Fender Rhodes treatment of Heavy Heart. A few jack and cokes soon washed the sour taste of dinner out of my mouth and just as the tequila monster was starting to manifest itself Lize lured me into the car and we returned home at the sensible hour of 1am.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


i just lost someone's comment - sorry!

PS Well done Mr Obama. Watch out for rednecks and gun nuts. You seem like a good operator, I hope you are allowed to do your job.


the interview with the young chef went well. He likes the dollars I'm offering, I love the food he cooks and he is happy to try make it happen on skeleton staff. He also digs the same movies I do. Hopefully it will all work out. The contracts for the pub are being drawn up as we speak, so some definition of the situation seems imminent.

In addition to meetings and the like today was Melbourne Cup day. I backed an obscure horse trained by the elderly, possibly insane yet very consistent Mr Bart Cummings. The conveyance saluted and paid over three hundred dollars for a very modest ten dollar outlay. The sport of kings indeed. Steak dinners, pints and much jollity ensued.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

the craic was ninety

what a lovely couple of days. Friday night I went to see old mates Epicure launch their new album at Karova. Quality supports in the shape of the Hello Morning and Matheson made for a great night alt country tinged rock. The pub was full of the band's friends and family and lots of familiar happy faces. As the band finished and the door charge came off the place was besieged by goths, who were making the most of Halloween and leaving the house and living it up secure in the fact most people thought they were in costume for some party or another.

Saturday was our friend Obie's wedding to the lovely Renae. The ceremony was held in the old Loreto chapel, a stunning looking little church. Jacinta and McCabe provided a beautiful guitar and harp soundtrack and the bride was scarily late (35 minutes, you could see Obie shitting bricks). We then choofed off to the reception at Portico. Cue lots of fingerfood, red wine and later whiskey. The band was a scratch band led by McCabe and composed of various guests at various points of the evening. Yours truly did Rainy night in Soho and Folsom Prison Blues. Highlights were a massed rendition of Dublin in the rare oul times (for the groom's mam) and a twenty minute guitar wigout through the Stone's Satisfaction. The dancefloor was packed all night and every time Obie was pressganged into playing a couple the hysteria increased markedly. Showing some sense, Lize and I opted not to go out afterwards and headed home at 12.30 snatching a burger on the way.

Sunday at midday I went to Obie's for the catch up BBQ before the happy couple headed off on honeymoon. They had a marquee set up with a bouncy castle for the kids with shitloads of yummy sausages and fruit punch. One thing led to another and some rum became involved somehow and the day began to develop a pleasant glow. At 3.30 I headed up the lake where the final stages of Tristan the DJ's bucks weekend were taking place. I'd had to give the previous night a miss due to the wedding committments so it was good to catch up with the lad. The tales from the previous day came across like one of Irvine Welsh's more lurid tomes and I was quietly relieved I couldn't make it. I'm a bit old for those antics these days. More BBQ, more rum and some firecrackers rounded off a pretty splendid day and Lize and Squitter came and rescued me around 7.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

as you were

what a day....

- back at the negotiating table for the pub, with some much improved outcomes. All is fair in love and war (and so it seems business) and after making unenthusiatic noises about the deal some of the more unreasonable requests evaporated and or shrunk to a manageable size. I'm still going to take it very easy with the contract negotiations though. No need to hurry....

- Booked in a lunch date with a young tearaway chef who may be keen to jump ship.

- talked to little bro about his apprenticeship and why sticking with it may be a good idea. I'm not going to launch into a tirade on the shortcomings of Gen Y, and their lack of work ethic and slim grip on reality. I successfully resisted the urge to tell him to harden the fuck up and thereby maintained cordial family relationships if not my blood pressure.

- heard from a young mate in Melbourne who's doing it a bit tough on the love front. He was starting to worry me a bit and we've been talking a lot and after some gentle prodding he's gone and finally got some help. Just counselling and a few pills to get him through the tough bits.

- had to lend a mate ten grand to buy a house. Only till Wednesday mind.

- got quotes on sexy shiny stainless steel machines that go ping. (and hopefully cook chips and wash glasses as well)

- wrote up the rankings for the young musician of the year award run by the local council of which I'm the sole and somewhat bemused judge.

- ate some fish and chips and did the dishes.

- practiced with the band with no name. Tonight's new songs were Fisherman's Blues and Tomorrow Wendy.

- collapsed in front of telly. Buggered.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


fuckity fuck FUCK. It was always going to happen I guess. In every sale process there is an easter egg. An undocumented feature. A little surprise.

Well today I got mine. A bit of a special sale condition by the broker that he ran past me like he was offering me a mint. I had to get him to repeat it. Apparently we have thirty days after posession to paint the pub. A lick of paint - I thought, that can't be too bad - but I told him to hang off, I'll just get some quotes and get back to him.

Cold called a commercial painter straight out of the yellow pages and then I started to feel very cold. Twenty large to start with was the off the cuff estimate. Could blow out to thirty if there's problem with power lines and scaffolding. Collected my thoughts and left messages with a couple of painters I half know. They'll get back to me tomorrow.

Thank Christ I haven't signed anything - I'm getting the bad tingling here.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

last of the summer winos

the knowledge that my days of leisure may be drawing to a close is adding a certain zest to my weekends. Last night Lize's brother Xave came over for dinner and we sat outside till nine enjoying the warm night, drinking red wine and munching on a roast meal I knocked up on the barbie. We then went to the Grapes where Obie's pre-wedding drinking binge is entering into it's third and fnal week. Obie and his mates were pretty full by the time we got there and before long disappeared into the night. Had a couple of convivial drinks and watched Xave who by this stage was wearing beer goggles so powerful that he began plying his charm on some of the ahem 'lovelies' crowded around the jukebox. Funny but a bit sad. The lad is twenty nine and lonely as fuck despite his high powered lifestyle and after a few vodkas it starts to show. The search for Miss right rapidly becomes the search for Miss right now. We left the young fella to it and headed home about midnight.

We both pulled up pretty rough (I'm blaming the heat dehydrating us. No, really I am). Cooked Lize and I egg and bacon muffins and spent a leisurely morning nursing ourselves through our delicate condition. In the afternoon a posse of hotties descended upon us. Krissy (Liam's partner) along with Jules and Chewy who both worked for us were all back in town and were in a similarly hungover state so we all sat outside drinking non alcoholic ginger beer and smoking while we caught up on gossip. Chewy in particular is a brutally funny girl and had us in stitches with her theories on Lindsy Lohan's lady bits. Jules had a pretty funny story about a model she goes to uni with in Melbourne who was telling her all about her new boyfriend who likes nothing better than a ball gag and sound thrashing of an evening when it dawned on Jules the new boyfriend not only went to school with her in Ballafornia but plays drums in a semi-famous local band. I'll certainly be seeing him in a whole new light next time I go to one of their shows.

The ladies departed for a cafe for tea and I fired the BBQ back up and we dined on hamburgers before settling down for yet another a look at Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back and a peaceful night in.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

in for a penny

in for a pound. The offer on the pub has been accepted. It's subject to about thirty eight different get out clauses and possible hitches, but at the moment it's looking pretty good. The landlord and current tenant have to come to some sort of detente, but once that's been acheived it should be a relatively quick process. Fingers crossed anyway.

Suddenly I've got so much to do - recruit a workforce, work on a menu with the chef (who is hopefully still keen to work for me) organise suppliers, acccountants, solicitors, permits, licence transfers and come up with a marketing plan...

I'd better get off the net.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

capitalist running dogs

yep I'm one. Not content with bringing misery to the workers of the world as mean-spirited, tight-fisted old publican, I sunk to a new level today. I bought some shares. Not many mind you, some people I know will wager more on a horse race, but enough to make things interesting. I am a complete bunny at this new game, but I kind of figured same rules apply to the share market as apply to pubs. So I'm buying low priced blue chip stuff with the longterm plan of flogging it off when the market fires up again.

So come the revolution, I'll be first against the wall. And quite rightly so.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


yep I'm a bundle of them. The waiting game seems to be an integral part of pub sales. Nine months ago it was me on the other side of the fence, trying to hang tough and not drop my price. This time I'm the bad guy, putting in a brutally realistic offer to some people who really need to sell fast. The pressure they're under must be immense, waiting for another offer to try and drive the price up. I at least had solace of knowing the business I was selling was solid, not spinning slowly towards a nasty run in with the bailiffs. None of this really helps though, I'm like a kid waiting for Christmas when its still June.

To keep myself busy, I'm applying for jobs again. Just in case it all falls through, you know. One is pretty funny - a certain large bank is trying to recruit managers from the business community and I'm through to the third round. They've yet to meet me though, everything so far has been online or phone. I reckon things will get frosty when a lumbering, fat, hairy behemoth arrives wheezing and sweating at the personnel manager's office. The other job interview is tomorrow morning. Someone is opening a gastro pub deep in the heart of deliverance country, about half an hour from Ballarat. I'm kind of just going out of curiosity, they must be mighty brave folks. The town it's situated in is better known for thuggery and rum drinking rather than a nice pinot with some braised offal on a bed of red cabbage. Should be fun...

Sunday, October 19, 2008

4 days

what I got up to on the weekend

- had our offer on the pub rejected as we hopped into the car to leave. Agent for the vendor still thinks we're in the hunt - I get the feeling there aren't any other offers on the table and there might be a bit of bluff/double bluff going on.

Day 1 - had an easy drive down to the port. Arrived, had antipasto and rum and lime drinks and passed out.

Day 2 - went for short walk in the morning, Lize went to day spa, I went to pub, Lize joined me at pub for tea and then we got thoroughly drunk in the spa back at the cabin.

Day 3 - started with a long, hangover destroying beach walk on what was rapidly turning into a very hot day. Visited some sort of cafe/gallery that was crap in so many ways it wasn't funny. Decided against eating there on principal (smoke free outdoor areas my arse) and went to pub for lunch instead. Faith in humanity restored as publican buys first round and we enjoy some of the best fish we've ever eaten. Alternate between napping, beers and cold spas for the afternoon. Grilled some steaks for tea and then fought a losing battle with the mosquitos armed only with aerogaurd and mojitos until our early bedtime.

Day 4 - eggs benedict for brekky, a bit of junk shop browsing and then we packed the car for the leisurely drive home. Broke the trip with a visit to Clarke's pies in Mortlake for lunch. Great place, completely untouched by any ideas of marketing, modern decor or other late 20th century business concepts. The 'history wall' celebrating Clarke's Pies appearances in local newspapers over the last sixty years is a triumph of something, I'm just not sure quite what.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


we're heading to Port Fairy for the weekend. It's our anniversary so we've booked three nights in the little shack we usually go to and Lize is going to a day spa as her present. My present is 3 hours peace and quiet in the pub while she's at the day spa. Lize refers to the pub as a man spa. 1/2 a dozen pints seem to leave me similarly relaxed and invigorated as her massage and facial, though definitely less fragrant.

Monday, October 13, 2008


there's a special kind of shitful feeling you get when you know you can't help someone. Today the girl came home from work sullen and edgy. She'd had a crappy day, compounded by the fact she works with a good friend and the friend is not really acting like one sometimes. I compound things by making a rubbish dinner and cracking shit jokes that just weren't having the desired effect. There are times you wish you could just wave a wand and bingo the person you love is happy. Instead she goes to bed early with the dog.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

saturdays night's alright

had a lovely day. Lize and I spent the morning harmoniously cleaning our squalid little abode, and then took a spin out to Mt Clear where Matt (of the band with no name) was having a little do to celebrate his lovely daughter Emily turning one. There was a rake of young kiddies running about roaring, kid's party food (I had some lovely sausage rolls and some jelly babies) and the chance to catch up with Matt's dad Kim, one of my favourite customers ever.

Old Kim has survived a nasty bout with prostate cancer and is thankfully very chipper these days. He was a hell raiser as a younger dude, but always a funny and decent guy who taught me more about bar tending from the other side of the jump than any of they guys I've ever worked for. He's back at work, all the hair has grown back and it was grand seeing him enjoying being surrounded by grandchildren and enjoying a quiet beer. He had some nice words of encouragement about the impending business venture and gave me a few handy pointers on the state of building (he's a plumber and knows the place inside out).

The day being nice and warm, Lize and I picked up some antipasto on the way back into town and had a couple of beers under the pergola enjoying the afternoon sun and lazily rearranging the pot plants. Ruddo and Jen swung by and I knocked up some souvlakis for tea and cracked a bottle of red. A few more bods swung by as the night wore on (Liam and Chrissie, Tristan and Kristen) so a few more beers and nibblies materialised and the gathering only broke up at 10.30 when Liam had to head in to work.

Friday, October 10, 2008

a run in with the ugly stick

i dragged my sorry hungover arse out of bed this morning feeling very odd. My lips were all swollen and one of my eyes wouldn't open. I mentally retraced my movements last night, no memories of fisticuffs, macings, tumbles or the like. Further examination revealed I was experiencing some sort of allergic reaction. My elephant man symptoms started to fade by lunchtime, along with the disproportionately severe hangover. Something didn't agree with me over the course of the evening, but I'm buggered if I know what it was. The only variation to any my usual food and beverage were some low fat corn chips and the first use of the BBQ for a few months. The mystery remains...

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Do yerself a favour....

and pick the new tome by John Birmingham. An Australian writer who hails from Qld, he wrote a couple of books in the nineties that at the time made me feel like he was one of the few Gen X writers that hadn't vanished up their own arse in a cloud of post modernism and arts grants. The Felafel and Tasmanian Babes books chronicled the stoned hopeless minutae of sharehouse life through the last decade and had a lasting impression on me. He took an abrupt right turn a few years back into alternate history military fiction and the results so far have been impressive. The latest opus, Without Warning is a slick, grim meditation on the world's relationship with the grand old US of A. Birmo's world view is of the 'we're fucked with them, but we'd be really fucked without them' complexion and he presents a pretty convincing case for this through the book. If you are a fan of smart fucked up books about war, the downfall of western civilization and hot chicks who can kick serious arse, give it the once over. It ain't magic realism and we can all be thankful for that.......

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


i made a rare foray into the world of vegetarian cooking recently. As an avowed carnivore, this was somewhat of an event for our little household. I tackled a frittata and surprise surprise it wasn't too bad. Pretty simple stuff. First I steamed a couple of spuds, slicing them thinly. Then par boiled some peas and sauteéd some shallots. Beat six eggs with a little cream until foamy and tipped half the mixture in to a pan with a little olive oil and butter. First I layered the spud, shallots and sprinkled the peas on top and then grated a handful of cheddar and a few shards of parmesan into the mix. A quick twist of black pepper, a sprinkle of sea salt and then the rest of the egg mix over the top. Cooked on medium until the underside was nicely browned and the top was starting to set. Then came the awkward bit - sliding the big disc onto a plate, putting the pan on top and then flipping. A bare minute to finish browning the top and bob's yer uncle. Served it hot with a salad of rocket, cherry tomatoes and thin strips of capsicum with a splash of balsamic and and extra virgin olive oil. The girl was very impressed although there was a small part of me that felt it was crying out for the addition of some pancetta or bacon.

Monday, October 6, 2008

adult ed

i went on a training course this morning. I figured before shit gets real hectic I'd better get some basic stuff out of the way. Lize's workmate Darrell the ex-navy dude conducted the course which centred on basic food handling procedures. It was well run and despite my nervousness I aced the test, but to be honest I wouldn't recommend anyone doing anything like this if you want enjoy dining out ever again. Germs, cross contaminants, pesticides, creepy crawlies, filthy hands, sneezing into salads and violent diarrhea were just a few of the appetising subjects covered. They also had a neat trick with a black light where you cleaned your hands in soapy water, put this gunk on your hands and gave them the CSI treatment. Mine looked the inside of Jeffrey Dahmer's fridge. Scary stuff, especially given the unsavoury habits of some of the chefs I'm acquainted with.

I'll be eating at home for a week or two, I reckon.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

the object of my affection

did a walkthrough of the pub we're looking at today

The positives are

- 3 minutes from our house
- new glycol system
- heaps of room/storage/coolrooms
- close to city centre/university campus
- nice beergarden
- it's cheap

The negatives are

- the landlord is rambunctious to say the least
- I've seen cleaner crackhouses
- needs painting, carpets, airco, blinds, glasswasher, fryer and god knows what else

I'll get a copy of the lease and turnover numbers this week. I'll put in a low bid if its meant to be, well its meant to be. And if it ain't this bum better find a job.

Saturday, October 4, 2008


it's been a bit of a whirl of late. I've had a gentle nagging toothache for a few days so I've been hopped up on codeine and bumbling a little. Thursday I went to see the Underminers play. They are my friend Hap's other band (The Dead Salesman being the main one I guess) and they were performing in acoustic mode at my old venue. They are a seriously low key proposition so they suited my drugged up state beautifully. Unfortunately the drinks I had didn't, so I had to cut the night short as I started to feel really nauseous.

The next day I had a funeral to go to. Kinga, a prince among bartenders, lost his old man Brian earlier in the week so I threw the suit on and off out to the cemetary to show a bit of support. As far as funerals go (it's a given they're never pleasant) it was a fitting and occasionally light hearted send off for a sweet old guy who was held in high regard in the circles he moved in. The coffin was carried out to the jaunty strains of the North Melbourne FC theme song and the eulogy gained a few gentle laughs when the old boy's smooth ways with the ladies were referred to. After the ceremony we repaired to the Grapes Hotel, Brian's regular watering hole and the place where I got to know Kinga many years ago when he ran the place. Sandwiches, tea and beer were all in good supply and Brian's old mates regaled us younger folk with stories of the old guy's exploits as a young tearaway rocker in the 50's and of his legendary charm with the widows and divorcees of Ballarat and surrounding areas. Like a lot of people, Í tend to ge a bit reflective at wakes and I looked around my circle of friends and thought that at some point we'll be those old guys telling stories about each other. A thought made more poignant by the fact my crazy mate Brooksy who was in attendance has just been diagnosed with something nasty and is already showing worrying signs, unable to open a bottle of beer without assistance. I pulled the pin about 9, heading home with Lize for a nightcap and some reassurance from the girl.

Last night it was back out again for Shaun the booker's girlfriend Mel's 30th. Due to some incompetence on behalf of the original venue, the party had to be moved at late notice due to a double booking and was relocated to the Blue Note, Ballarat's newest and only gay bar. It operates in a hairdressers after hours, has a grand piano and a patchy selection of beverages. Mine host, a tall camp gentleman of European origin, serenaded us with agricultural versions of Blue Moon and Girl from Ipanema in the earlier part of the evening before Shaun was able to wrangle a mix cd onto the house system and convince Liberace to get back behind the bar. Caught up with a load of good people that I don't see as much of as I should but felt slightly aggrieved all night about the drink selection and the rabbit in the headlights style of bartending going on. Lize and I got a cab home at midnight and had a pizza and stayed up chatting for a couple of hours which was a pleasant end to the night.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

roll over beethoven

there aren't many things that soothe me as much as rock and roll. Tonight's rehearsal with the band that don't have a name yet was bloody great. Whacking a piece of wood with bits of wire on it and screeching into a crusty old microphone is damn good for the soul. At this point in life I still like writing but to be honest I derive more and more pleasure from actually playing and singing other people's songs. I know I'm never going to write a song as pure as Sweet Jane, or something that will make you shake your arse as much as Sympathy for the Devil. And lets face it no one will ever pen anything as downright earthy and wicked as Gloria again. I guess its kind of like jazz for people who aren't as good at their instruments as the old jazzbos. These standards provide a framework you can hang yourself from, stretching the phrasing and playing tricks with the groove. Playing the Cure's Just Like Heaven as if Dylan wrote it. Pummelling Folsom Prison Blues into a stomping punk mess. Turning Paul Kelly's Desdemona into a Byrdsy epic.

When I was a young guy I despised cover bands with a passion. But as I get older I kind of get it I guess. If you can truly climb inside someone else's song and feel like you've taken it somewhere, there is a real reward there.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

lay yer money down

scarey times we're living in. I'm not a finance expert. I've never dabbled on the stock exchange. When someone says hedge fund I have a mental image of a jam jar stuffed with cash stashed under a hedge. And given the current state of affairs that jam jar may well be the safest place for our hard earned. After all the scare and rumour dies down, and all the billions that exist only as numbers on spreadsheets have disappeared, where will we find ourselves?

Will it be like the early nineties when all the work dried up and owning a house seemed like an impossibility? Will it be something different? Will the landscape be littered with indigent groups of bewildered baby boomers whose self funded retirement has just been wiped? Can Gen Y kids survive on the dole like we did? Will Gen Xers like me grit their teeth, tighten their belts and cough up the tax that will fund the inevitable drift back to government welfare that is gonna come as sure as Christmas. It's hard to say. Whatever it is, the next few years ain't gonna be fun. No fun at all......

Sunday, September 28, 2008

other peoples shoes

a couple of weeks back, Iwrote a post about my mate Ruddo's cathartic boozing evening after his football team was knocked out of the finals race. I got the chance to walk a mile in his shoes on Saturday. I'm a Geelong supporter. After our 24 year premiership drought was broken last year, I guess it was easy to become complacent, and after only losing game for the entire year, success seemed inevitable. Sadly, this was not the case. Our forward line, who until Saturday were hailed as some sort of golden gods, proved to have feet of clay. Almost literally clay in fact. Gumby and his plasticine mates would have kicked more accurately I reckon.

Still the afternoon was enjoyable after a fashion. Enjoyed frosty Becks and BBQ at Andrew and Vicky's and various mates popped over during the day (including a very understanding Ruddo). By the end of the game I'd switched to whiskey and was in dire need of distraction. Luckily there was a good cause on hand.

An old mate Lenny has fallen on hard times and a few stalwarts of the Ballafornian music scene threw together a benefit show to get him sorted with a PC and the like. Len is a very gifted musician and artist who unfortunately suffers from a rare degenerative bone condition. A really tough break for a guy whose explosive natural ability as a drummer brought to mind a young Keith Moon and whose work with the Dead Salesmen in the 90's was absolutely spectacular. An excellent guitarist/bassist and visual artist, its really hard to see him confined to a wheelchair at age 36, and hopefully some technology will give him some new creative outlets that won't place too much stress on his body. A sweet bloke with a personality way too big for his frail frame, it was fantastic to see so many people turn out to support him. Word is a large wedge of cash was raised and the rock action on display was top notch. My recollections are a little hazy after 10pm but Brand X and the Fat Thing played absolutely stonking sets from what I recall and after waiting an hour for a cab I was well pleased to hit the sack.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

the gambler

i've been a bit yo-yo for a couple of weeks. I'm not the most stable fucker in the world at the best of times, but to be honest the last fortnight has been a really uncertain time for me. Not all of my own doing either. The prospect of a worldwide recession (or dare we say it, a depression) is not a keen inducement to strike out into the cesspool that is bidness yet again. There's ton of reasons for and against and I reckon I've gone over them all in my mind time and time again. I hate the idea of putting the missus in an invidious financial position again but she's urging me to do my damndest. I know I've got the minerals and the ability but I'm not sure if I've got the resilience both mental and physical for another crack at the bigtime. The tease is that if I pull the next one off I won't have to work again. And that's a mighty big pull. The catch is am I fit enough for another big push. The other big lure is to doing the right thing by the girl. If I do shuffle off a bit premature it would be sweet to leave her well set up. After a dozen or so vodka and tonics that's where I find myself. Between a rock and a hard place.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

come on spring, do your thing....

Today was fucking glorious. Warm in the sun, cool breeze, just bloody perfect. I'd really love this place if the weather stayed like this. Unfortunately it won't and in three months time the place will be parched, brown and savagely hot. But this is the best time of year. Grand for walking, which I did by the lake today. Saw a brood of cygnets trailing along after their mother cute as buttons. The grass is so lush at the moment, better than it has been for years, and the blossoms on the trees are stunning. Lot's of mum's out of my own species too, trailing screaming kiddies after themselves.

I even made a halfhearted attempt at cleaning the back yard when I got home, such was the inspirational nature of the weather.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

little things

its been a fun couple of days. The annual brownlow night celebrations took place on monday night. A bit of a social ritual with our mates, we usually gather at someones house and watch the weird, frequently embarrassing spectacle that is AFL's highest award. Car crash TV at it's finest. Tizzied up WAGs, drunken bozo footballers, gag inducing tributes and a frankly bizarre combination of the Oscars and a pie night. Its great fun to scarf down a few sausage rolls and enjoy a tipple while you sit back and enjoy a thoroughly Australian experience.

Lunch today was out at the parentals. The bomb has been dropped - they're putting the old ranch on the market and moving in to Ballafornia and they assembled us kiddies to give us the news. We all kind of knew or suspected but today confirms they are deadly serious. Younger bro Seán seems a little nonplussed by it, I guess he spent his entire childhood there with Diármaid where Theresa, Eilín and I all moved countries and houses several times before we even hit secondary school. Anyway the real estate agents have given them a much higher estimate than they thought so fingers crossed it all goes well. The place looks gorgeous, with lovely gardens and a lush paddock surrounding it. Fair play to them, I remeber when we moved there is was an arid wasteland with one tree on the whole fifteen acres and a patch of gravel where now there is a quite a lovely house. The lunch itself was fantastic - grilled thinly sliced marinated chicken, gourmet sausages and crusty bread and salad. Trifle for afters. It really brings out the Mammy's boy in you when you sit down to spread like that for lunch. Endless cups of tea and lemon, lime and bitters kept the dust down in keeping with the folks teetotalling ways.

Saturday, September 20, 2008


i'm a bit bored. It's one of those truisms - be careful of what you wish for, you just might get it. The time is 11.15 pm on a Saturday night. The darling wife is buggered from her new project/client and after knocking over a couple of bottles of red at Vicky and Andrew's house has passed out on the bed with the dog licking her face. I've retrieved the dog and now sit at the computer, idly trawling facebook and bigfooty and sipping a rum and coke which is giving me more heartburn than buzz. There's some shithouse Australian country music on the radio in the next room that I can't be bothered turning off. I think my mental batteries may have finally recharged. Time to get up off me arse and do something!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

in the hunt

i'm tossing around the concept of pub ownership again. The bar in Melbourne fell through and I still seem to have the bug I suppose. I've set myself some limits though.

My first stipulation is strictly pub rather than club. No late nights, no DJs, no 'talent' issues and no kiddies scoffing pills whilst off their tits on Smirnoff Ice. I want nice meals, pints, a well stocked jukebox and a cosy bar. Naturally a well chosen wine list and a few single malts on the top shelf. A nice little area for the smokers so they aren't out on the street mingling with the great unwashed. A glass chiller and a glycol taps rig. And I don't want to pay a fortune for it.

Fingers crossed.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

black hole

sometimes, after a supreme effort in your cups, you end up with a shocker. A hangover so vile death seems preferable. Where one dare not cough for fear losing control of one or more bodily functions. A place so terrible bacon, paracetomol and Gatorade cannot rescue you. Where the light hurts your eyes and water tastes thick and greasy. Your bones ache and your fingers shake.

I'm going back to bed.

Friday, September 12, 2008

the stag is loose

i'm off to a buck's day today. My man Obie is getting hitched, and we're roaming the pubs of Ballarat town and the day should be ripe with foolishness and frothies. The day is warm and sunny, my pockets are full of cash and my heart is full of the devil. I'll be back with a sore head and the full report on the morrow. Slainte!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

bad bones

i find people's different drinking habits fascinating. Take my friend Ruddo for an instance. He is a secondary school teacher and part time rock and roller who rarely if ever has a couple of beers after work. I've never seen him have a wine with dinner and he can go a month or two without a drink some seasons of the year. But when the mood is on him, he is a veritable force of nature. Take last Saturday as an example.

His football team, North Melbourne, got roundly thrashed out of the finals for the second year in a row that evening. Sources report that he was fairly pounding the beers down during the course of the game and as the result became inevitable his work rate increased. Shortly after this the man appeared at my place clutching a six pack and needing a friends ear. Luckily, I'd had a wine with tea and was vaguely in the mood for a couple, so I braced up to the kitchen table, grabbed a bottle of Jack and had a yarn with the lad. Bear in mind the time is approximately 10pm at this point.

Fast foward eight hours. We haven't left the table. The bottle of Jack is empty, as are maybe 8 or 9 beercans. A bottle of Coruba that had maybe a third in it is also empty. In addition my treasured bottle of Jamesons distillery reserve is two thirds gone. I've been drinking quietly while my man gets it off his chest. The pain of the football loss has long been forgotten. Other woes have been addressed. The inequality between state and private education. Ladies lack of understanding of the stresses of being a modern man. The perfidious nature of the music industry. People who annoy him and those who really need a good thumping.

Ruddo, whose sense of time is not brilliant under normal circumstances, is stunned to see it is now 6am. After questioning the accuracy of my timepiece, an attempt is made to arise. On the third attempt he is successful, but unfortunately the effort has taken it's toll and upset his stomach a little. After a discreet stagger to the bathroom, all offers of a bed or a taxi are refused. A stroll homeward would be just the ticket (he does only live a couple of blocks away). Somewhat unsteadily, my man departs. 15 minutes later I wander out the back to allow the dog to do his business and have my last fag, I find Ruddo has made a good ten metres progress over the quarter of an hour and is hanging onto the fence having a breather or 'giving himself a pep talk' as he put it. All offers of accomodation are again refused and he disappears into the night.

He popped in later the next evening, very subdued. The walk home, about a kilometre, had taken upwards of an hour. He'd also spent the day bedridden and being violently sick every half hour. Probaly going to give the beers a miss for a week or two he reckons. Fair enough.

Friday, September 5, 2008

two turntables and a microphone

i've got a guilty secret. My music collection is a many splendoured thing. There's folk aplenty. Planxty, De Dannan, Christy Moore, Nick Drake, Dylan, Neil Young, John Martyn. From the Smiths to the Fratellis, if it indie I've got it. Funk, soul, blues, psychedelic, garage rock and punk are all in good supply. Dance floor fillers from the Supremes to Daft Punk. Enough reggae and dub to keep the most dedicated stoner in an easy skanking stylee. The dinosaurs like Led Zep and Floyd. Dean Martin and Sinatra, Davis and Coltrane. A veritable Mojo of tunes. But hidden on top of the metaphorical wardrobe, like a well hidden copy of Fiesta Readers Wives is the forbidden music.

I love hip hop. Not just the worthy conscious stuff, or the acceptable white boy jams. The Lil' Jon, Snoop, Jay Z, Dre, Kanye, Xzibit nasty ass commercial misogynist gear. With fat beats and lots of swearing. From old stuff like Tone Loc and Sir Mixalot to new cuts like Chamillionaire and 50 Cent. I love it with all the passion a 36 year old white dude with absolutely no cultural affinity can muster.

Sad but true.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

the best policy

i'm not a paragon of virtue. If I see 20 bucks in lying in the gutter, I'll pick it up and spend it. I've nobbled the odd Christmas tree from Crown land and once or twice I may have told a wicked fib on a tax declaration. But stealing music gets my goat a little.

Its not hard to buy music these days. Classic albums are 10 dollars a throw, less sometimes and new releases are often less than $20. You can buy any tune in the world for $1.69 on iTunes. Don't even have to leave the house. But somehow people find this too big an ask. Somehow all the thought and sweat and art that a musician pours into making a song ain't worth shit. You see the technology exists to obtain it for free....

Which is fine, but don't expect another Dylan, REM, Johnny Cash, Prince, U2, Clash, Led Zepplin, Pink Floyd etc in the foreseeable future. The artist that takes time to mature, who needs a few albums to blossom, who uses the studio as an instrument just ain't gonna get subsidised while the dollars dry up. If you can be marketed and soundtrack an ad you have some chance, but you better be able to record cheaply and digitally because you sure as hell aren't going to be allowed to make a White album or a Rumours anytime soon. You'll have to tour your arse off just to live, and charge top dollar too as rising fuel costs make even that income stream dwindle. On top of that the market becomes more competive as punters increasingly see live music as festival based entertainment rather than as individual shows. If your child can write, or has an ear for melody get them to do a marketing degree. Ad agencies are the record companies of the future and while people still feel more squeamish about nicking a can of coke than they do about downloading for free, theres half a chance a musician might actually get paid for their efforts.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

springtime for squitter

the dog is loving the first days of spring. He's obviously a warm weather animal, as up until now any time spent in the backyard not directly connected with his ablutions has been accompanied by pathetic whining, barking and panicked scratching at the door. The last two days of sunshine have brought out a different side to the animal. A proud explorer, who on occasion will venture past the back shed unaccompanied. A ferocious slayer (and sadly eater) of lizards. And a contented animal happy to bask in the sun until the smell of frying sausages coaxes him inside.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

nature boy

a couple of Lize's mates, Lisa and Vicky had their combined birthdays on saturday night. The party was held at Lisa's bush block about 30kms from Ballafornia, a place called Cape Clear. The weather was challenging to say the least, but fortunately they have a very large shed where the majority of the festivities took place. There was also a bonfire of gargantuan proportions that both cheered the spirits and roasted the flanks of the merrymakers that gathered around it after nightfall. It was brutally cold though, with gale force wind and icy showers. To combat the cold the ladies laid waste to cases of champagne whilst the menfolk plied themselves with rum and bourbon. Vast quantities of steak and spuds were on offer, and later icy bottles of fortifying german digestifs were passed about. Hilarity and good spirits were in good supply and had some great converstaions with some really interesting people. One of Lize's workmates Darrel is ex-Navy and served in the Gulf and East Timor and had some crazy stories. Some pretty funny ones too about what the lads (and ladies) of the navy get up to in port. Also had a drink with a couple who are amongst Australia's premier dog sled racers (!!) as well as a young bloke just back from Beijing. The ladies one by one hit the wall as the night went on and I was fairly happy to retire when not long after Lize stumbled in to our little tent. I'm pleased to report the hitherto untested tent is both rain and wind resistant and the only disturbances during the night were a long walk to the conveniences and a spontaneous dawn chorus that featured birds, a dog, some Angus heifers and a fellow camper being heartily sick.

After bacon butties and pints of orange juice it was a pleasantly short drive home, where we spent the day flopping about lazily reeking of woodsmoke and enjoying toast and tea.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I walk the line

i'm really enjoying going for walks. The dog and I saddle up about 3pm each day and go for a waddle through the botanical gardens near lake wendouree. The old lake has done it tough in recent years, drying up and basically being an eyesore. But recent rain has put a thin sheen of water over it and it at least looks like a lake again. The swans, ducks and moorhens have returned and the grass surrounding is green and lush. Squitter and I normally go for a bit of a wander through the botanical gardens proper, generally taking the route past the prime minister's busts. I'm trying to train him to piss on the Tories if he has to go, but so far he seems to be taking a bi-partisan approach. The dog's unpredictable behaviour continues, with a headlong dive into a pond and a succesful theft of my lunch making headlines today.

I'm up to 45 minutes a walk currently and happy with progress. The belt has been reeled in to it's last notch and I'm not running out of breath going to the mailbox. Fitness ahoy!

Monday, August 25, 2008

pop musik

played a theatre show on Saturday night. It's not something I've done very often, most of my playing life being spent in pubs or parties. Christ I wish I'd done more of it. It was paradise -crystal clear sound, a sold out room, no clinking glasses and a crew of techs waiting on your every sonic whim. I was supporting the Dead Salesman duo again and it was of those nights that renews your faith in the old game. It was great to see a couple of players whom I respect both as artists and people play a great show and for once not be a mere soundtrack for drunks on a Saturday night. Had a good show myself, sang my arse off and the jumped up and played some pissed but enthusiastic mandolin with them in their encore.

As a change of pace I jammed with Ruddo and a couple of the Wednesday night pool boys tonight. Good craic even though the lads were a bit rusty, with a spanking version of Paul Kelly's Desdemona being the highlight of the evening. I haven't played with a straight two guitars, bass and drums combo for maybe ten years and to be honest it felt damn good. Like an old jumper that you had lost at the back of a cupboard and you put it on and realise how much you missed it.

Monday, August 18, 2008


played an afternoon gig on saturday at the Holgate brewery in Woodend. I supported my mate Hap from the Dead Salesmen as a warmup to their 20th anniversary show. I'm doing the main gig as well but Hap rather nicely put me on the bill as I haven't done a solo show playing my own stuff in eons. It was weird how familiar the nerves are and how the little rituals come back. The half drunk cokes and half smoked fags and the sudden blank where you can't remember the first line of the first song. I ended up playing mandolin on a couple of Salesmen tunes which was good craic too.

It ended up going quite well, nowhere near the class of the Salesman duo, but a reasonably solid effort nonetheless. The pub was intriguing, one of the few genuine microbreweries in Victoria. I wasn't really drinking but I did try the pilsener which was nice and the chocolate porter which was very good indeed. It was funny watching people being beer wankers, holding their glass up, swirling it and making wise pronouncements. Beautiful old pub too, lots of stained glass and irregular polished boards. Got home about 7.30pm pretty knackered so it was pizza in front of the olympics for me and an early night. Rock and roll!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

two dogs

we're dogsitting at the moment. Dougal is Lize's parents' scottish terrier, a canine of advanced years and dubious bladder. Squitter and Dougal aren't fighting, but do seem to be bringing out the worst in each other. So far today they've had a pissing contest (currently deadlocked at 5 all), howled with gusto at varous upsetting events (Lize going to work, me going into the bedroom, the gate swinging in the breeze etc) and indulged in unhealthy bouts of dry humping. They're both neutered males so the doggie man love is a little disconcerting. They're both staring at me as I type, like some sort of four legged children of the corn. Its going to be long week.

cooking up

i left home without a lot of life skills. Irish Mammy had in her own loving way doted on her great lump of a son leaving him to read, play guitar and drain the cooking sherry while his clothes were washed, meals cooked and the house cleaned around him.

Moving to Melbourne a week or two before my eighteenth birthday, this lack of domestic ability didn't phase me as much as it should have. The 7/11 down the road provided fine chilli dogs for under a buck, and Four and Twenty products were cheap and plentiful. Dietary variation came in the form of fish & chips and pizza washed down with shit wine and worse beer. Laundry was a giant stripy bag dragged home to Ballarat on the train once a month and as for dishwashing cleaning etc it just didn't happen.

Meeting Lize should have fixed all this. Unfortunately it didn't work out that way. Lize, while a domestic goddess and harsh taskmaster, came unstuck on two fronts. Firstly the darling girl can't cook unless you count toast as cooking. Secondly my poor cleaning habits were ingrained at a level that would take a behavioural psychologist aided by a brace of Maori bouncers and numerous prayers to St Jude years to change. So the poor girl had no hope.

But slowly change did came upon us. I discovered I not only could cook, but actually enjoyed it. It started slowly, and suffered the rude interruptions of businesses and shift work, but it gradually came to be. Early days it was packet pasta, fish fingers, sausages and mash. Then came pasta from scratch, pot roasts, steaks and schnitzels. Then came the frills. I learnt how to make a roux. How good stock makes good soup. How not to turn vegetables grey with overcooking. The power of the fresh herb. Grilling over charcoal. Olive oil, sea salt, cracked pepper, chilli. Fresh fish. Slow roasting a joint for eight hours on low heat with the meat sticky, juicy and falling off the bone. Pancakes with bacon and real maple syrup on a hungover sunday. Dark chocolate, whiskey and cream with summer fruit. Chicken breast poached in semillon blanc with thyme. Home made souvlaki and pizzas. Caesar salads. Steak and fries with aioli.

I still like pies and the cleaners come once a week in the interests of domestic harmony. But the takeaways don't see much of us these days. Which ain't a bad thing.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

behind the 8 ball

i hate pub pool, or 8 ball or whatever you want to call it with a passion. All my years working in pubs I have too often seen this game provide an excellent opportunity for dickheads to meet, disagree about the finer points of 'pub rules' and punch seven shades of shit out of each other. When thats not happening the damn things malfunction, get balls/cues/chalk stolen and provide an excellent surface to spill drinks on. Which further annoys the pool buffs.

But tonight was a bit different I guess. Eight or so dudes in their mid thirties, in a shed drinking beer, playing pool and listening to tunes is a bit of a different proposition. All eight of us in one way or another have known each other most of our lives. All our parents travelled in vaguely similar circles, 3 of us were born within 10 days of each other, and all of us became even tighter as we were drawn into one particular indie music venue in Ballarat in the early nineties. The venue was the Bridge Mall Inn, a legend in its own life time and a hallowed watering hole for freaks, druggos and some sweet ass rock and roll. The pool table we played on tonight was spirited away from the very same venue under dubious circumstances around the turn of the century and helped bring forth a few pithy yarns and salty stories as the evening wore on. The pool table had involved itself in wider considerably wider spectrum of activity than games of skill as it turns out and we all had our favourite stories that seemed to revolve around the well worn playing surface.

It set me to thinking. I managed that venue for few years and things became fairly acrimonious between myself and the last owners. They weren't indie people and didn't get the down at heel , loose feel of the place and in the process of improving the place threw the baby out with the bathwater. The punters and bands slowly dried up in front of me and it made me pretty bitter. The place had been a labour of love for me, working for bugger all and just vibing on the art while keeping the place moderately profitable. Anyway the war stories tonight helped me close the book a bit. The memories these guys have taken away with them will last longer than a scene or a business. And in the shifting sands that are rock and roll pubs I guess that's all you can hope for.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


today was a good day for Lize and I. The final annoying bits and bobs of the business have been finished and Sharpshooter the accountant gave us the happy news. We no longer have a mortgage! We have to go and see the bank and get the rest of the balance put into what in effect is a teensy little car loan, so while we ain't totally debt free, we are near as buggery to being so. Mission accomplished!

To celebrate we went out for Mexican to a place called Zaragosa. The staff are lovely, the food is a little better than the regular Oz take on Mexican and its a really nice room. I still feel a bit crook and Lize is swamped workwise so we kept it civilized drinkswise (a couple of glasses of sangria for her, two margheritas for me). We both had enchilda type meals with beans and rice which were really enjoyable in a spicy but stodgy kind of way. Joy of joys we got to sit next to a nice young family whose 'lively' 2 year old managed to throw a couple of spoons at me in between screaming fits. My personal highlight was overhearing devil child's mother ordering a semi long blonk, a drop which I gather is a close relative to the semillon blanc.

Anyhoo we kind of let the chaos flow past us because of our excitement. We keep coming up with ridiculous ideas to use our ill gotten gains on and it feels good to be able to plan and get enthused together again.

Saturday, August 2, 2008


its saturday night, and instead of tripping around Ballafornia drinking vast tankards of bulls blood and being fawned upon by fragrant young things i'm sitting at the computer in a lather of sweat, coughing and choking and red in the face. I have some sort of super flu. It's been smacking me around like a red-headed stepchild for ten days and frankly I'm sick of it. I can't taste food, my voice sounds like broken glass and everything hurts. My lungs are full of green goo and even breathing is painful.

As a consolation Geelong did the right thing and clinically despatched Richmond by 10 goals in the footy, then joy of joys I caught a Chappelle repeat. Whilst I've been sick I've done a bit of dross reading. Read Maire Ní Brennan's bio which was pretty crap to be honest. It read like a Maeve Binchy book, a lot of romanticised catholic childhood guff followed quickly by abortion, cocaine, divorce and new age christian bollocks. It did prompt me to check out some old Clannad stuff on youtube. The early trad material is amazing, and some of the later synth era gear was ground breaking even though to modern ears it sounds very day spa/relaxation tapes lame.

Also read the Boy George bio which was very much what it should be. Camp, bitchy, self-obsessed and with the barest of mentions of the actual music involved. I was taken aback by how confronted I was by the fairly graphic descripions of gay sex. I've got plenty of gay mates but I guess they spare me the more lurid details of their love lives. I wasn't disgusted or anything just kind of shocked. I must be more conservative than I thought.

Also I've been indulging in a lot more Podcast listening. Kevin Smith's Smodcasts at View Askew are bloody funny. Clerks and Dogma are two of my favourite flicks and while not everything the guy touches is gold he is piss funny for a Yank. Down loaded some Stephen Fry and Coodabeens podcasts as well. Fry is a funny old sod, one of the podcasts is a very Wildean 30 minutes on how much he hates dancing the other being a heavily medicated rant about breaking his arm up the Amazon. Odd but witty stuff. The Coodabeens are great relaxed sport related humour, of absolutely no interest to anyone not au fait with the ephemera of AFL football, but i find them fucken hilarious.

Sunday, July 27, 2008


friday night I was a judge at a battle of the bands. Shaun the booker, my former compadre from the pub now has a role with the local youth services office and was struggling to source enthusiastic and knowledgable persons for the role and so after a bit of pleading I helped the lad out. I pretty much detest the concept of music as a competition but I understand that's how the world works so on with the gig.

It was held at a local nite klub (sic) which was rammed with kiddies intent on drinking red bull, making out with each other and 'going off' to their mates bands. I suspect the current Attention Deficit Disorder pandemic is not being helped by energy drinks. The usual suspects at these shows presented themselves. A couple of inept punk bands in a the blink 182 vein, a couple of metal bands with cookie monster vocals and pleasantly enough a couple of acts that could actually play. My favourite were the Howl, a six piece hipster combo, great players with a modish take on the nu rock thing. Of couse they didn't win, the chocolates going to the other competent act called The Great Fall, who were a more screamo concern, tight as a nut and very polished but not this judge's bag so as to speak.

The organisers rather sweetly gave me a gift voucher for my efforts, so it was straight down to the shops on Saturday and Lego Indiana Jones on the Wii for the rest of the weekend. Awesome!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

M-Town II

I was back down to Melbourne yesterday. Trying to pin the bar guys down on some figures. I'm still pretty crook with the flu so I left Lize with the car and took the train from Ballarat for the first time in maybe five years. It was surprisingly pleasant, plenty of space on the off peak and I was jacked in to the ipod for the trip, giggling like a schoolgirl at a couple of Ricky Gervais podcasts I'd downloaded. For a desperately unlikeable human being I still get a laugh out of the smug bastard.

Big cities are a different kettle of fish when you are by yourself. On the weekend I felt a million bucks, all suit, booze and bonhomie. On a cold Tuesday afternoon the big city made me just feel small and cold. I still haven't mastered the automated ticketing and being a big fat bastard on a tram makes you feel conspicuous and know you are probably annoying other commuters. Anyway the bar guys weren't there when I got there, so I checked out some guitar shops, ran into Louey the piano player and James the screen printer and felt a bit better. The dudes eventually showed up, presented me with some meaningless bits of paper and promised to email the rest. One of them said he'd been behind the eight ball after he dropped his phone in the toilet. Seems really keen not involve solicitors in the sale process. If it goes ahead he's going to be sadly disappointed in that regard, because he'll certainly be dealing with mine.

Wrapped up the quasi negotiations and headed back to get a tram into the city feeling a bit pessimistic and hoping to grab a bite to eat at Southern Cross station, where the only option at eight o clock was either sushi or stale looking sangers. Opted for a fag and a can of coke instead and kepth myself awake on the train with a nice mix of Free, Deep Purple and Led Zepplin for the ride. Dinosaur rock soothes the soul!

Sunday, July 20, 2008


been fighting the the flu all week so I approached this weeks Melbourne visit with a degree of trepidation. We had a lot to fit in in 24 hours but the boss was determined and given the fact she has personified awesomeness for the last few days I figured the least I could do would be to attempt to make the schedule work.

First up was a visit to the National Gallery for an Art Deco exhibition on loan from the Victoria and Albert. Lize was goggle eyed and dreamy, loved it to bits but I ended up sneaking off to look at my favourite Picasso sketch and left her wandering in a daze. She picked up a catalogue to bring home with her and has formed an unhealthy obsession with Lallique glasses.

Then off to the hotel where we intended to camp for the night. In the course of an adventurous drive we discovered Melbourne City Council seen to have eliminated right turns at a lot of intersections meaning we kind of arrived at the hotel by a combination of guesswork, cursing and dumb luck. Checked in, then we hit Brunswick Street for an awesome chorizo pizza and some yummo pesto chicken pasta and then had a little meeting with a dude who's trying to sell his bar to us. Checked out the bar as well, great potential, buggerall overheads, the only issue being everything I pointed too was leased or rented. It started to beg the question whether there was actually anything to sell . The visit was inconclusive and I'm going back tomorrow to maybe try and pin him down on a few things. Nick our old bar manager has put his hand up to run it for us so I will be involved from afar on this project so if it does go ahead, Lize and I get to preserve our weekends etc.

Then it was off to the Gertrude Hotel for Jules and Yuko's 21st birthday celebrations. Fabulous times were had, the place was rammed with hotties and top blokes in fancy dress and many pints of Pipsqueak were quaffed. Caught up with all the old staff and some other dear mates and had a marvellous time. Of course we kicked on, the dirty old Pony being the late bar of choice. Had an in depth convo with an old Inpress staffer, saw 10 minutes of savage dirty rock from a band who remained anonymous, realised I was on of the five people there not on crazy drugs and drank a little too much. At this point Lize fell down the stairs (a combination of a broken high heeled shoe and too many Stellas) so it was back to the motel for a pie and a ginger beer.

We both pulled up pretty rough. Lize has a bruised bum, sore elbow and wounded ego, I managed to get chilli sauce in my eye and we were both rocking fair hangovers. After a slow and painful drive home it was nice to spend the rest of the night curled up with Squitter on the couch watching shit TV.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

pulling the pin

the missus did the sweetest thing she could do for me this evening. (stop sniggering down the back, I'm being serious.) She remarked on my series of miserable colds and general morose grumpiness over the last couple of months. Then she told me to quit the call centre and do something I enjoy. So I'm gonna! I love this girl.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

sticks and stones

words can hit you harder than you think. In my pub days I would routinely be called a fat cunt by disgruntled punters. Scenesters would often call me a sellout for having popular acts or booting them out for taking drugs in the toilets. Once after introducing myself to Spencer P Jones as Paddy his watery eyes clouded over and he shook his head. "Fatty?" he queried. "People can be so unkind." He was so troubled by it I didn't have the heart to correct him. So I'm not unused to words as weapons. Which makes me wonder why the aggro chat at Vicroads gets to me so much.

Its mainly the kids I guess. They're so nakedly aggressive towards authority with relatively little provocation. A sixteen year old girl calling you a fucking tool, or eighteen year old lads calling you a Vicroads dog. Or just totally losing their shit at you for five minutes. I guess I just get really taken aback at the ease in which they slip into the role of the aggrieved spitting victim of the system. For every small part of me that feels wounded while my ears redden, there is a big part of me worried about these kids. How do they deal with coppers, transit police, teachers and even their parents? Its not some sort fogeyish lack of respect that concerns me, its more how the world treats you when you don't want to embrace its social conventions and how the system firstly produces and then deals with youth with so much aggression. I get the feeling they'll have a hard road of it. The poor little fuckers.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

top 10 reasons you know you've worked in a band venue for too long

1 you get to know what the touring sound engineers like to drink. And you realise that knowledge can be more important than knowing what the band likes.

2 your home sound system is an ipod through a small PA.

3 you can't actually listen to Australian music any more.

4 the word screamo makes you come out in a rash.

5 you realise that band bios are a load of toss. Modern bands sound like Duran Duran, Tool or Green Day. Or on a bad day all three at the same time.

6 you don't consider Hip hop to be a live art form.

7 you assume DJs are wankers. (and are proved to be right way too often)

8 you know that the bigger the rockstar, the nicer they are. This doesn't mean they won't hit you up for coke at 2am on a Monday morning in a small country town. But they'll be nice about it.

9 you realise there is more booze in your drinks cabinet than was on the shelf of the first pub you worked at.

10 you catch yourself thinking about buying another one......

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

the orifice

sometimes work gets a bit tough. Had two calls today, both from unhappy, desperate people who felt rightly or wrongly they'd been dealt with unjustly. And boy did they let me know about it. Supervisor boy evaporated at the first signs of confrontation and it was just yours truly, the departmental rule book (a very poorly put together piece of work) and my angry public. I ummed and ahhed and apologised and hemmed and hawed and advised and refused to commit and generally acted like the kind of prick I despise. Came home feeling lower than a snake's arsehole.

Monday, June 30, 2008

the squitter

we now have a dog. A squat, slightly insane fox terrier with a black head and spots delightfuly christened Squitter by his previous owners. The same owners who dumped him at the pound because he didn't suit their lifestyle apparently. Squitter is great craic, humping your leg and shitting in the lounge room. (cue Amy Winehouse gag.... actually scratch that) Anyway the little guy is settling in well, scorning the $60 bed Lize bought him in favour of the couch in the back room. He also prefers ham off the bone to dogfood and howls like a recently bereaved coyote when we leave for work. Other hobbies include stealing Lize's knickers and farting. He and I are a well matched pair.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

uh huh oh yeah

Lize and I love a good party, and though I say so myself we aren't too bad at it either. We both get a little over excited and spend a bit too much but it was great to see Lize have a special night with all her mates over. I spent a couple of days honing a playlist on itunes that was a careful mix of old funk and soul, new wave, reggae, some cheesey 80s dance and some more recent floor fillers. Pumped it all through a recently acquired PA system that has 800 watts of fatness and that was the tunes covered. Decked the pergola out with heaps of fairy lights all twinkling like crazy, a couple of braziers to ward off the winter chill and a bbq running all night with lamb, chicken and roast vegetable kebabs. Add fifty up for it mates, shitloads of beer, scotch and tequila and it was good times all round.

Of course it took two days to tidy up afterwards and there was a certain amount of seediness but would do it again next week if I could find a good enough excuse.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

rolling and a tumbling

the weeks all blur into one in steady job. Weekends serve as punctuation and here's what I've done on mine lately.

- went and saw seriously fine Oz band Dallas Crane do what is rumoured to be a final show. Supports the Gin Club had the aura of the Rolling Thunder Revue, awesome eclectic stuff drawing strands from folk, blues, country and noisy rock in to a brilliant weave. They also played that Jacaranda song which is a fine piece of psyche pop. The Crane themselves were by turns ornery, pissy and majestic. I hope this isn't the last we see of them.

- got seriously loose after the show. Even went to a late night dance academy for young ladies. I should not be left unsupervised in big cities. No one tells me to go to bed and I feel ill and seedy for days.

- had a pleasant weekend in Victoria's shittest seaside town. Portland would be gorgeous if the bluestone whaler's cottages and sweet old buildings weren't surrounded by industrial development that has been plonked down massively and randomly in odd places. The maritime museum was tops with a big whale skeleton, old boats and sailory trinkets and an incredible amount of shipwreck meromabilia.

- the drive back from Portland was a bitch. 3 1/2 crappy hours of tailgating and trucks.

- it's the girls birthday this weekend. It will be a big show. She might be getting a puppy too, but I reckon I might leave it till after the festivities.

Sunday, May 25, 2008


a side effect of no longer being in the pub game is that Lize and my social lives are becoming more varied. Our work lives have broadened and we are no longer surrounded by groovy young hipsters, tearaway would-be rockstars and struggling artists. Instead we get to spend our Saturday night in a draughty hall on the outskirts of Ballafornia at the engagement party of one of Lize's new work colleagues.

Sadly, it seems to be a doomed romance. The male part of the happy couple is a tool of the highest order, a half-man half-weasel whose credentials as a life partner seem piss poor. But hey the girls in love, or at least in love with the idea of getting married so good luck to her.

But the party was outstanding. I daresay in 20 years time parties like this will have died out in all but the most rural areas. Firstly it was in a hall. A big cold bugger of a place, brightly lit and ringed with plastic chairs, pink balloons and tables with baskets of crisps. A DJ was stationed at one end of the hall, a portly chap with a touch of the used car salesman about him given to rambling over the mike unintelligibly between songs. The catering was Oz classic circa 1970. Pies, sausage rolls, egg and lettuce sandwiches for the vegetarians and the crowning glory miniature saveloys. Cold cans of VB were the go, with a wine selection that boggled the mind. The sole red on offer came out of a box and was a cheeky fizzy number. Thats right folks, fizzy red! The white options also came out of a box and offered a sweet moselle up against a really fucking sweet lexia for variety.

As the night wore on and the speeches were completed the lights were eventually dimmed and the DJ truly came into his own. Firing up a barrage of strobe lighting, smoke and lasers that would do Pink Floyd proud he pushed up the volume, shouted a lot and packed the dancefloor with pissed aunties as the Shania Twain, Grease and Suzy Quattro blasted forth. Lize's boss and her partner revealed themselves as enthusiastic, disturbingly raunchy dancers.

Top night!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

the beat goes on...

and the fun continues. The first two weeks in this new job have been a delightful plateau of boredom punctuated by occasional lows and over frequent cigarette breaks. I'd forgotten the oddity of office life, with so many disparate and incongruous personalities corralled together into a room with uncomfortable seats and too much climate control. There are the office trolls, the alpha males, the red stapler guy who never seems to leave. The supervisor who nearly loses it when death comes up in a conversation, the repository of all knowledge chick, the dude who looks like Craig David and the posse of wenches who arrive at 8.15 in the morning all boobs and hair like it's Friday night. More on these people later. I have drinks to drink and steam to spare.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

the new job

the new job kinda sucks. I'm in a call centre working for a large state government authority. To book a single appointment can involve as many as five different programs running simaultaneously, and my fellow staff are by turns angry, broken or snippy. Breaks are short and frequent, I suspect because the meltdown factor is quite high. No eating at the desk, no denim, no mobiles, no internet use and constant monitoring by a little robot on your desktop who gets angry if you go to your break late. I can't wait to see the little arsehole's reaction to long boozey lunch. The queue time for the long suffering punter is over 20 minutes and they are correspondingly irate when you eventually get around to talking to them. It doesn't help when a clueless buffoon like myself is trying to guide them through a legislative minefield that he is equally ignorant about.

They aren't all sad times though. Tomorrow is free pizza and stupid shirt day, and once a month the place goes nuts and casual clothes are allowed. Crazy!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

a small victory

i got a job! An honest to god, sit on yer arse, 9 to 5, public service job. Its only a three month contract to start with, but apparently if you aren't an absolute nuffie extensions aren't a problem. I applied on the net last week, aced the interview (the first interview I've had since I was 17) and lo and behold the call came thru today. I'm pretty happy, at the back of my mind I was worried all I'd ever do was pull beer. Not that I don't think its a good trade but it was making me a cranky old bastard.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

the week that was

it's been a week of minutae. Saturday had Lize, myself and our mates Vicky and Andrew head down to Koroit for an Irish music festival. It pissed rain for the duration of the festival which seemed to thin numbers considerably as the day wore on. Despite this I had a pretty enjoyable day (the cheap Guinness might have helped with this) A couple of decent acts, Bean an tre (?) being the most notable, livened things up. Some acts were frankly shithouse. Out of tune guitars and mandolins just aren't excusable in this era of the electronic tuner. Anyhoo it was a good a day with an honourable mention to the kitchen staff at Mickey Burke's pub who were serving piping hot stews and soups to the bedraggled hordes who desperately needed something both nourishing and warming.

Applied for a couple of 'normal' jobs this week. Weirdly enough I still haven't heard back on the part time bar gig I put my hand up for... ...maybe fate is intervening to keep me away from the taps!

Back to the eye quack today and things aren't looking great, nor are they dire. Referrals to specialists are in train and I've decided to stop worrying about it. As i type I'm sweating buckets and coughing hideously anyway, so the flu is providing a pleasant distraction from longterm eyesight dramas.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Another Wedding

This one was the little brother's. For reasons best known to themselves they decided to get married in Melbourne. The logistical dramas that stemmed from this were many and varied but once everyone hit town everything fell into place. (One tip though - casual parking for a couple of hours in the Melbourne CBD had this bumpkin wincing - $42 for two hours. Highway robbery.)

Anyhoo the kids got married in a registry office, something I've never seen before. It was quite low key but surprisingly emotional. Their musical choices were excellent as befits a groovy young couple - Radiohead, Flaming Lips and Augie March. The celebrant's avant garde grasp of English made for light relief and it was quite short and sweet.

We then repaired to the Gertrude hotel in Collingwood for refreshments. The food was excellent (little bro and I are good mates with the chef), cider and beer flowed freely and there was pumpkin and orange cake and champagne toasts. We left late in the evening having had a lovely day. Pausing only for a toasted ham and cheese from a roadhouse on the way home (which tasted oddly of fish) it was a tired carload than pulled back into to Ballarat at midnight.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Mess Hall

Its funny how you can get swept up in a Friday night, even when you haven't done the work to earn the enjoyment of it. I guess I'm still playing catch up. Bought some Merlot cleanskins, pate and camembert to take the edge off the week for Lize, then cooked a couple of rippingly good scotch fillets with barbequed corn on the cob and baked spuds. The girl had had a hard day at the office and nine o'clock found her a bit dazed and confused, so she opted for a lie down on the couch while I decided to hit Karova and see one of Australia's best kept secrets.

The Mess Hall are two piece rock and roll, more QOTSA than White Stripes and while quite bluesy in parts, a bit more manic than the Black Keys. They cook up a dirty wall of noise, with drummer Cec's incessant pumping kick drum and sinuous drones and scattershot licks from vox/guitarist's Jed's old Tele. The vocals are exhortations and yelps and the whole thing is a damn fine example of the things that are good in music. Notably absent from the stage were ironic keyboards, designer jeans and bassplayers that look like some tit from Spandau Ballet. All plus points in my book. Caught up with the lads afterwards (though Cec seemed to spend most of his time throwing up from his exertions) and Jed was a fount of good humour and gossip. Apparently Wolfmother haven't broken up and are back in the studio which is great news for fans of Black Sabbath.

Being the old and broken man I am I snuck home in a cab at 1.30am.

Monday, April 14, 2008

the horse

i applied for a job today. After swearing to myself I wouldn't do it again it's a bar job. I am an idiot but since my freaky eye test the panic has set in. I can handle being a bum, but being a blind bum is terrifying prospect. If I get it will at least make this blog more interesting.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


i don't tend to have positive interactions with the medical community. Most are incredulous about my weight, lifestyle, smoking and drinking habits, refusal to drop dead on the spot etc. My GP has got to know me over the last few years and seems to have placed my file in the humour him/too hard basket. He doesn't badger me too much, offering more gentle encouragement and the odd hot tip for basic survival. So when I visited an optometrist today I really shouldn't have been too surprised by what happened.

The optometrist was a comely sort of lass, from Hertfordshire in the old dart and gave me the usual eye tests and was well into her spiel on glasses and how awesome they are when she got to my left eye. One of the reasons (apart from finding it tough to read in dim light) that i went to get my eyes checked is if I'm tired or its dark, the left eye gets a little blurry, with lights sparklig or even tripling if I stare too hard. Apparently this is not a good thing. Cue 3/4 hour worth of tests and the comely lass getting a more worried frown. The upshot is I have something I have never fucking heard of wrong with me . Its called Keretoconus. It means your corneas are out of shape, getting pointy instead of nice and round. This gives you blurry, trippy vision and eventually can render you legally blind. (which I gather means you can still see big stuff like cars and whatnot, but you mightn't be certain it's definitely a car it might be a horse. But it doesn't go all dark which is nice). There are options apparently, hard contact lenses to start with and then you can graduate to corneal grafts. Anyway she gave an appointment in two weeks to make sure it all wasn't just a bad dream and she'll make some reasonably nice glasses for the other eye which is merely lame rather than fully buggered. I'm a touch freaked out but hey I guess it ain't fatal and given the current advances in medical technology I could be rocking an awesome pigs eye or some such in 10 years time.

Monday, April 7, 2008

All in the Family

Check this story out folks I know this isn't a real newsy sort of blog but this can't be avoided. Dad and daughter happily shagging away and having kiddies while they're at it. Not content with wallowing in their own insanity they feel its necessary to go to the media with their heartwarming tale of forbidden love and poor unfortunate inbred children. As a society I reckon the signs are bad - this is not the sort of thing a healthy community tolerates.

Friday, April 4, 2008


a couple of lovely kids got married in Ballarat last night. Jarrod and Renae are one of those couples that you have a gut feeling will make the long haul. They seem to love and respect each other and treat each other with affection and good humour. Funny people too. Jarrod is one of the more talented sound engineers I've worked with, a capable and calm dude who has bailed me out on countless occasions with his clever ways with a misbehaving PA. Renae used to work with Lize at Maccas back in the day and she's since been heavily involved in the retail side of the rock game and is one of Lize's oldest B-town mates.

The wedding was great craic. Nice jazz, cold beer, little snacks and a great mix of folks. Cocktail receptions are awesome, no being stuck on a table full of mental aunties or Johnno the boring guy from the bank who's someone's second cousin. Caught up with some people I haven't seen in ages, and ended up back at my old bar carrying on with them till all hours. It was a bit odd seeing the bar from the other side when it was pumping, got a few rueful stories how things have changed since I've left but it all seemed cool to me.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

a trip and a storm.

tuesday morning Lize and I threw some clothes in a bag and buggered off to see our mates Ruddo & Jen in Anglesea. Jen's folks have a little cabin down there in a caravan park and being the darlings they are invited us down for a night. They are some of our oldest friends and hanging out with them is fun and easy. While in some ways we're quite different as couples (they are the most energetic people on earth, its all half marathons and scaling the Andes with them) we get on really well. So we sort of had a compromise day where they dragged me on a walk that seemed to go on forever, that I actually ended up enjoying and then we went to the pub at four in the arvo which is more my pace. Then Jen cooked up some awesome steaks, stout and beer were consumed and a vigorous night of cards, scrabble and a few more ales ensued.

Not having overdone it the previous night, Lize and I bounced out of bed nice and early and packed the car as some gentle rain fell. We said our goodbyes and embarked on the lazy hour and a half drive back to Ballarat. Or at least that was the plan.

The next couple of hours were some of the toughest driving I've ever done. Insanely strong gusts of wind buffeted the car between Geelong and Ballarat, sometimes physically pushing the car half off the road. Branches were being ripped off trees, a dust storm was visibly building and there were sporadic downpours of rain. White knuckle stuff. We made it back home in one piece, but saw a fair bit of carnage from the storm, including a house that had a massive tree fall on it and smash through the roof. By the time Lize went to work at 3pm the sky was thick with dust and the sky was a queasy shade of yellow. The worst seems to have abated now but apparently big chunks of the state are without power and there's plenty of damage to property.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Sloth - a neglected deadly sin

i'm slowing down to a crawl. The financial and legal paperwork mountain that resulted from the sale of the bar is fast reaching molehill proportions. My mobile phone that used to ring on average every 10 minutes now can go 24 hours without breaking silence. The emails have slowed to a trickle. Life is grand.

All this spare time is allowing me to investigate long neglected pursuits. Like getting up, doing the dishes, working out and then retiring for a pre luncheon nap. As an insomniac the novelty of this peaceful sleep is irresistable. The house is empty, the darling girl is at work and I've got nothing on my mind. Maybe the novelty will wear off, maybe it won't. I'll enjoy it while I can, because the process of updating my qualifications starts in a couple of weeks and this comfortable domestic hobo existance may be snatched away from me all too soon.

Monday, March 24, 2008


i've always been a bit down on Easter. As a kid Christmas was pure joy - presents, mystery, brilliant food, decorations, santa, carols while Easter seemed to be 18 hours of church over 3 days with a miserable payoff in chocolate at the end.

This Easter was a vast improvement. Firstly Lize and I had the four days together. Not since 1991 has this occurred. (Either of us always had some shitty job that got in the way). So Good Friday we had some mates around, barbequed some salmon, prawns and calamari and drank lots of yummy wine. I know this isn't quite in keeping with the spirit of the day, but there wasn't any steak or Jack Daniels so I'm marking it down as a day of fasting if not prayer.

Saturday we lunch with Lize's folks and her brother and sister, partners, kids etc. Goose and turkey, more yummy wine, chocolate.... Easter was starting to feel like the last days of the Roman Empire. Anyway after the family do, we had respective hen's and buck's nights to attend. The buck's night was great. We started off at my old bar, where they had the guitar hero game projected onto the wall. The combination of beer, classic rock and air guitar is possibly not that attractive to some people but we had a ball. After a couple of hours of this we dragged the buck, now dressed as a wizard (last year he foolishly took part in a promotional campaign at his workplace, a tourist theme park, appearing as a wizard) to the plastic paddy pub. There after fortifying ourselves with steaks and parmas we began the serious task of plying the lad with disgusting shots - chartreuse and tabasco anyone? and offering the lady patrons a chance to sit on the wizard's knee, a proposition that proved more popular than you might think. Being a bit older and wiser I headed off before the nightclub stage but by all accounts things went swimmingly, with no strippers or fights and the buck ending up dancing onstage with the hen in a romantic stylee.

After this arduous evening it was back out to my parents for Easter lunch - chicken, lamb, more chocolate and simnal cake but by this stage I was on the lemonade so no wine for me. The rest of the day was spent in romance and repose, watching the first season of Entourage and a bit of footy. We capped off the weekend by watching an amazing thunderstorm with a couple of cuba libres on Monday night and saw Ballarat get it's first good rain in a month.

Easter is rising in my estimation.