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.