George the Last! – …..Read on…

Most of you know, that’s if you’ve been following my rants for any length of time, will know, that I lobbed into Sydney way back in the 1970’s, early 1974 to be exact; and for reasons that escape me stayed!

I was having a drink at the Tatler in George Street, weighing my options: head back to the West, or go down to Melbourne, and I got into conversation with ย a Scot, who was giving it a bit of a lashing; (getting stuck into the booze) he explained why! ๐Ÿ™„

His name was Joe, we didn’t bother with last names; and he was a window cleaner. Not any ย old window cleaner, ; and not that sort; but a high rise window cleaner. This sort; ย High Rise Window Cleaningand as his nerves were just about shot, he needed a drink before going out there to work.

Well it made sense to Joe. He asked what I was doing, told him “nothing at the moment, passing through trying to make up my mind what to do”. He asked where I was staying, I told him in a pub up near Central, he told me that his local pub, in “The Rocks”, had decent rooms and his publican another Joe; I know; we’re supposed to be on about George, was always looking for someone to work his bar.

Believe it or not, I had no idea about “The Rocks”, even though back in the 60’s I’d spent plenty of time in “Steak & Kidney”, I’d never been to them, wasn’t even sure where they were, disgraceful really when you think that “The Rocks” is pretty well where the ‘First Settlers’, settled. ย The birth place of Australia, as we now know it! ย ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

Joe told me to catch any bus going down George Street, and I’d get there, no worries! He forgot to tell me that some didn’t go to The Rocks, they went round to the Opera House instead, needless to say…………..

Eventually, I found my way over to The Rocks, was I in for a shock. All thoughts of moving on went. The place was literally bursting with life, full of character and characters; I was hooked, love at first sight. I found the Orient Hotel, which wasn’t hard, it was right where Joe told me! ๐Ÿ™„

Went in met Joe Hutchins, the publican, who turns out to be the laziest publican you could ever wish to meet. Was an industrial chemist by profession/trade; more on this later. He asked where I was staying, told him, he said that he had a room if I wanted it, I said why not, so back up to Central, got my stuff and checked out and moved into the Orient.

It didn’t take long for Joe to ask me if I ‘wanted a bit of work’, “Why not” says me, great little pub, good atmosphere and wouldn’t have far to go to work. Two flights of stairs! Had a great room, top floor at the front overlooking Circular Quay, a multi-million dollar view; what could be better โ“

Within a week I was pulling more hours than Joe, ย told you he was lazy! He liked to sit in the cellar looking at the kegs of beer for some reason, damned if I could ever figure out why. One day he told me.

Being an industrial chemist, he knew exactly what went into making Toohey’s New and the process, so Honest Joe, made his own kilderkin (that’s 18 Imperial Gallons – 20 fluid ozs to the pint 8 pints to the gallon) of beer a week, and bunging it in a bank.

Mightn’t seem much; but it gave him over 280 middies (10oz/half a pint) of beer for next to nothing, and he paid no tax or excise on said kilderkin of beer; pretty well all profit. He made one a week ๐Ÿ˜€ Now Honest Joe’s wife, Margaret, being a very devout catholic, heartily approved of Joe’s work. Had to love ’em ๐Ÿ˜ˆ

It didn’t take too long to settle in in The Rocks, and not only that, but to be accepted by a very close knit community. Within a couple of weeks, I’d been invited into quite a few homes, which was fascinating for me, as most that I went into, had been built in the 19th century, and hadn’t changed much.

Just for the record, in 1974, George Street North, boasted five pubs over a distance of approximately 335 metres! That’s around 365 yards for those that don’t understand or are not familiar with the metric system. ย There was no need to worry about where your next drink was to be had ๐Ÿ˜€ย 

ย The Rocks had 13 Hotels/Pubs in total, some have gone all have changed; some might say for the worse, and I’d be one of them. ย ๐Ÿ˜ฅ

The first you’d come to was The Fortune of War, then up to The AS&N, cross Argyle Street and you were at the Orient. a little further along, you’d stumble into the Observer, after which you would stagger a little further and finish up at the Merc, that’s The Mercantile not a Benz! ๐Ÿ˜ˆย 

By the bye, George Street is not the ‘George’ in the title of this rubbish!

I worked for Honest Joe at the Orient off and on, we had a hate/love/hate relationship most of the time. We’d have a blue, and I’d tell him where to stick his pub,andย go pull a beer at anyone of the other pubs, no worries. Naturally, I never moved out of the Orient, why would I, had one of the best rooms in Sydney! ๐Ÿ™„

After a few days, I’d be back with Honest Joe and Margaret, as if nothing had ever happened.

Sometime, early ’75 I think it was, Joe decided that he’d start serving ‘counter lunches’;I don’t know if this is a distinctly Australian thing, I know it started back in the 1950’s in Melbourne. ย Lunch time came and instead of having a sandwich you’d slip into the nearest pub and have a decent hot lunch for a couple of bob. Was better that Cole’s Cafeteria!ย 

Back to Joe, and his counter lunch, I think he really started it to help a mate out. This mate was a dinki-di Chef; He’d been working at the Australia Square, 47th floor’Revolving Restaurant’ and had turfed it in!

At that time Australia Square was the tallest building in Sydney, which probably made it the tallest in Australia, ย 

but not the tallest structure, that went to a Yankee tower over at the Exmouth Gulf, in the West. This tower was the set up, so that the USN, could stay in contact with their submarines, pretty well world wide. Well thats what we were told! ๐Ÿ˜ˆ

Now this Chef mate of Joe’s wanted someone to help out in the kitchen, and Joe asked me if I’d be interested in helping out this Greek mate ….ropopoulus or something like that, until he could find someone permanent, and I said why not, I’d done a bit of cooking, and filling in for pub cooks, in the west, and here was a chance to work with a fair dinkum Chef, why wouldn’t I say yes?

The Chef duly arrived and Joe conducted the introduction, sort of “G’day George”; ย “this is Smithy he’s going ย to help you out in the kitchen ’til you get settled” “Smithy this is George the mate I told you about!’

Yes indeed, this is the last of my George’s! ย A real life flesh and blood George: George V died when I was one, I never got to meet George VI, although I did see him on a few occasions, George Formby, I wouldn’t have recognized if I was sitting next to him in a bus, only knew him by ย his silly songs! ๐Ÿ˜€

Now what sparked this rant and ramble? Well it was something I saw on the TV a while back, and it kind of wound me up; and as this is getting a it long winded, I’m going to finish and write another episode in this saga.

Hope you will stay for the next episode, which, with any luck, will be the last in this little lot.


All pictures and photographs in episode 1 and 2 and 3 (when it’s finished) are courtesy Google Earth and Wikipedia


31 thoughts on “George the Last! – …..Read on…

  1. Again, interesting. A bit circuitous but I don’t expect written elegance from Brits, so that’s OK.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. But surely you must from an Englishman, a pedantic one at that?

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Love it! The long and winding road, for sure. Your life, not necessarily your stories. The images are great. I thought you were going to say that you joined window-cleaning Joe scaling high rises with squeegees. But you surprised me. Not many do that these days. Does that indicate cynicism? In Britain, I loved pub lunches. They were my meal of the day, though I also ate plenty of sandwiches and even ventured into proper restaurants twice. Living dangerously, that’s me. Sounds like you, too…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I left England as a 16 year old, so never had the experience of growing up in an English pub environment. I feel I missed out on something magical. I did enjoy an English pub lunch in 2005 when I was in London, Theres a picture and post of me somewhere tucking into a Steak & Kidney pudding lunch.
      Life is meant to be lived on the edge. ๐Ÿ˜€

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Fun and fascinating

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m getting the impression you’re enjoying this little lot of codswallop Derrick, Thank you ๐Ÿ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Fish, chips, and beer?


  4. Easy to understand why you stayed there. But now I don’t remember what took you to Sydney in the first place.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I was on ” a walkabout” to use an Aborigine’s expression, and having been in the Pilbara, then the Northern Territory and North Queensland, I was trying to make up my mind whether or not to return to Western Australia via Sydney & Melbourne after visiting my relatives first.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. What a lovely spot for a pub crawl, when you only have to crawl such a short way to the next!
    Your entry (entrรฉe?) into gourmet meal production is eagerly awaited.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. There were 13 very active pubs and back in the 60’s and 70’s there was an annual event. A pub crawl where the participants, generally numbering in the thousands, had to visit each of the pub, in order, drink a schooner (15oz) of beer,and get their card marked at each pub. There was no prize at the end; just a drunken glow and a serious hangover, There was a name for this event but I can’t recall it at the moment.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Seems like enough schooners to sink a battleship! ๐Ÿ™‚


        1. Indubitably O_o o_O ๐Ÿ™„ ๐Ÿป


  6. Evocative story – recollections of 1970s Sydney.
    It would have been around that time that the Argyle Centre was revamped into an art and crafts centre.
    There was a very good leather maker in the precinct, who was a strict vegetarian – now that always tickled me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As well it might, I’d have been tickled pink too.
      There was a very fine dining room at the Centre, I dined the War Office there. Chateau Briand cooked to perfection as one would expect; before driving over in an hire car to the Opera House to see the ballet, ‘Sleeping Beauty’ on our first real ‘date’,
      Supper after the ballet at the Wentworth. A nice night.


      1. First time I was introduced to “fine dining” i.e. many sets of cutlery and glasses was at the Argyle Tavern in 1974. It was posh around there then. I relied on copying my girlfriend who’d had an even posher upbringing in England. She twigged straight away and started to reach for her cutlery, change her mind, reach for her glass, change her mind again, go back to the cutlery, stop, and decide to make polite conversation without eating anything. I had to invite her to join me in “the ladies” where I sorted her out in the way only a true “westie” could ๐Ÿ™‚ We’re still friends ๐Ÿ™‚ Your post reminded me I have a batch of photos from a day out in the Rocks that I meant to post last year. Must regurgitate them.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Brian,
    this ramble is getting as exciting as the one you did about the “wet canteen”, in the mining camp, in the West. I hope you get time over this long, wet, Queen’s Birthday week-end. to write episodes II and III.
    Does Joe Hutchins, the publican, get caught by the cops for making bootleg booze?
    Will George, the Greek chef, set fire to the Orient Hotel with his flambe?
    I can’t wait.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Now why would Joe get caught? He went to Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral every Sunday, and his wife used to conduct rosemary meetings upstairs in her livingroom attended by many ladies of the Catholic faith including Kerry’s aunt but thankfully not Kerry! ๐Ÿ‘ฟ

      Liked by 1 person

    2. By the bye THIS is episode II, looks like you missed the first episode entitled George

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Can’t wait for the final chapter! This George must be Something Else to have received such a long and fascinating lead-up to his grand entrance. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I love seeing the photos and hearing about your youthful escapades and adventures. We have pub crawls here. They involve a hoard of university students drinking their way along the main line (an old-wealth, upscale area just outside Philly), growing more rowdy and out of control as they progress. A way of celebrating the end of the academic year. Always loud and closely watched by our township officials (police). Not my cup of tea, as you can guess.


  9. I wasn’t exactly youthful, no matter how much I thought I was, I was in my 39th year when I lobbed here in Sydney, in ’74.
    It wasn’t might cup of tea either, nothing worse than crawling from pub to pub getting drunker by the minute.
    I preferred to stay in the one spot ’til I fell from my stool! ๐Ÿ˜ˆ


  10. I wasn’t exactly youthful, no matter how much I thought I was, I was in my 39th year when I lobbed here in Sydney, in ’74.
    It wasn’t my cup of tea either, nothing worse than crawling from pub to pub getting drunker by the minute.
    I preferred to stay in the one spot ’til I fell from my stool! ๐Ÿ˜ˆ

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Looks like a great spot to live – the Rocks. Did you ever go into the left-handed shop?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was; sadly not any more, all the old characters, and places, have been moved out or on, most are dead, and now it’s full of idiots who get drunk on a bourbon & coke and cause mayhem. The left handed shop rings a bell, I can’t place it now but I’ll check with the War Office when she gets home she may recall it, I have an idea it was over near the Sailors Home, which has probably gone too.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Brian,
        Lefty’s, the left-handed shop, or shop for left-handed people is still there. I saw it only recently, when I was down at the Rocks for lunch and a few drinks. Here is a little from their website: “ABOUT LEFTY’S
        Lefty’s is a small family-owned business that started in 2003 selling products for left-handers. We started the business after having difficulty finding a can opener for our youngest daughter in Sydney. (The famous Left-Handed Shop at The Rocks had closed in 2000.) From the outset, it was our aim to source quality products from around the world that would help young lefties, especially, to be able to do the ordinary tasks that so many of us take for granted. We have since grown the business to be a national internet and mail order business stocking over 300 products. We also have a growing export business.
        After opening the business in April 2003, it soon became very obvious that there was little information and even less support for left-handers, their parents and teachers. As a result, we created Lefty’s Resource Centre to fill that gap. The Resource Centre provides free basic information to help parents and teachers as well as encouraging young lefties that Being Left Is Alright (our slogan, created to reassure people that there is nothing wrong with being a lefty). Every year we have provided support for dozens of concerned parents and teachers. We are continually working toward improving the understanding of left-handedness and the issues faced by lefties.
        2017 sees us branching out from being just an online presence. You will now see us at various craft and education fairs and conferences across Australia. Below is a picture of our stand at Intocraft Live in Sydney in March 2017 where we joined forces with our sister business, MyBrush.

        Keep an eye out for us by subscribing to our newsletter or watching our home page for the next show!
        We are the main driver in Australia of International Left-Hander’s Day, the one day of the year where Australia can hear what it is like to be a lefty in a right-handed world and lefties can celebrate their uniqueness. And we have conducted over 90 radio, newspaper and magazine interviews to help improve this understanding.
        We welcome comments and suggestions at all times.”

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Obviously not the Left Handed Shop that was there in the 70’s though Neill.


        2. By the bye when I was rambling on about the sad stae of affairs I wasn’t referring to that shop but The Rocks that was and is no more! ๐Ÿ˜ฅ


      2. I have only been to Sydney twice. Once to get my mother a left-handed can opener. – She damaged her right hand in a car accident.


  12. Brian,
    I think that was a Catholic shop that sold religious objects. No doubt sold Mrs Hutchins rosaries and missals.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. And having to go back to read the previous episode- cool place – great times, and you really can tell a tale ( and yes, life is to be lived – those afraid to reinvent themselves never understand the game)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the compliment Phil, trouble is it comes in fits and starts.
      Those that don’t live life to the full have no idea what they’re missing out on; whether good bad or indifferent (bet you thought I was going to say ugly) ๐Ÿ˜ˆ it’s all worth while.


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