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.