It didn’t take me long to realize when I first opened up at the ‘Wet’ that the number one casual I’d inherited was pretty well useless, a nice enough bloke, always ready to make up a foursome on the pool tables if they were a man short for a doubles game, didn’t matter if someone wanted a drink, they just had to wait ’til he’d had his shot; so I told him that good bloke that he was he wasn’t much good to me and I needed to get someone more reliable.
His main worry was “I’m not barred from the ‘Wet’ am I? I can still come in for a drink and play pool?” “Sure” says me “it’s just that you’re pretty useless behind the bar.” I told him that I understood that the extra money he was going to lose from the work would hurt him a bit and told him that I’d give him some casual work when we weren’t too busy, but that I wasn’t going to carry him. He was happy enough with that.
I can still see the faces of many of the men I knew at Shay Gap, although after 40 years I doubt I’d recognize any now, and I imagine there are some that are long dead.
The best pool to get casual bar staff from was those blokes that just did a normal day’s work, they didn’t earn nearly as much as the men at the mine proper and the bit they could get from casual bar work came in handy; so I put the word out that I was looking for a reliable bloke who would be available pretty much on call.
I struck the jackpot! This Pommy bloke in his 30’s came in and said he was interested in the job, that he had no experience whatsoever and needed the extra money.
Turns out he was the ‘Swimming Pool‘ manager and compared to everyone else was on a pittance. He liked and enjoyed a drink ( I never would have anyone working behind the bar who didn’t) but with his commitments didn’t have much to spare for boozing up.
A nice quiet sort of bloke, turns out he was ex SAS, he was as fit as a ‘Malley Bull’ and absolutely fearless. I discovered that whenever a snake or scorpion was spotted the call went out for him to go find and destroy said creatures. Apparently his method of disposing of the most venomous of snakes was to grab the thing at the tail end, whirl it around his head then crack it like a whip.
Seems it was a sure fire method of disposing of said snakes. Nobody thought to enquire what the snakes thought about such an ignominious end.
I liked this blokes attitude from the word go and said “Okay fine, I’ll give you a go” and gave him a start straight off, best thing I ever did, he was a quick willing learner and caught on quickly.
After the first night he’d learnt how to pull good beer, how to throw in a keg; that’s slipping a full keg into a bank that was being pulled. This boy was good. Not only that he was happy and enjoying the work.
There was nothing he couldn’t handle he was a natural, I’d only ever come across one this good before, and I saw him every time I looked in the mirror. Hell! Why bother with false modesty? And not only that everybody admired and respected this bloke.
And why wouldn’t they he was quiet, unassuming, polite and tough; a really good bloke!
I just wish I could recall his name, I can still see him, this new man who plays the part of James Bond in the movies reminds me of him every time I see his face staring at me from some billboard, and physically too, the resemblance is uncanny!
This man became so good and reliable that I could take a night off without any qualms and leave the running of my ‘Wet’ to him; although it was necessary for me to be back in time to do the final lockup. He had my complete faith and confidence and he worked with me for many months.
Like all good things though it came to an end, he came to me one night and said “Gov” he always called me “Gov” he was a Cockney lad like myself but still kept the Cockney ways, I’d become Australianised after 34 years in the country; “Gov” he says and as truly as I’m sitting here, said with tears in his eyes” I have to leave, I have to go home” I assumed he meant to England, I said to him that I was sad and sorry to see him go, and I meant every word of it. He then paid me a great compliment by saying “Gov, you’re the best governor I’ve ever worked for” I didn’t ask him why
Then we did something that we’d not done the whole time we’d been working together, we sat and had a few beers and a chat.
One thing that the men didn’t do at Shay was discuss the past and why they were there, except of course Chuck, he didn’t mind who knew that he’d left his wife and come to the Pilbara for freedom; any way it turned out that my departing chum came from Barking, Essex, England, and you guessed it I came from Barking, Essex, England.
He’d lived on Gascoyne Road and went to Gascoyne Road school, he lived according to Google Earth 3.3 miles from where I was raised as a child; was I ever one of those?
And now we are just as far away and apart and unknown to each other as we ever were when we worked together in the bar at the Shay Gap ‘Wet’!