Blood on my hands? Might be! Guilty conscience? No way!


Now that I have your undivided attention; I was going to entitle this load of the usual, The Hordern Hotel II, had I have done so you probably wouldn’t have got this far; but I assure you that it is not misleading,

I’ll endeavour to put one of those polling things in, like disperser does, and   let the few stalwart followers that are left, vote on guilt or innocence, if I can’t then you’ll just have to pretend!

I’d settled in and learned the ropes, very quickly, as Goochie was a good teacher. Good job he was; as nine or ten days after I started, Colin Henry; that’s Goochies real name, had a heart attack, and got carted off to hospital, and suddenly I was it! I was the only bloke besides Oscar, the yardman, a good bloke, well for a Scot anyway, but he didn’t have a clue how to pour a beer, very adept at drinking the stuff though!

Rae; that’s Goochies wife in case you’ve forgotten, arrived back from the hospital, and said that Goochie was going to be fine, he’d be in hospital for a couple of weeks, and then confined to bed, at home, (the pub) for a few more, and that I’d have to look after the bars, and kind of run that side of the business, and asked if I felt I could handle it.

Naturally, I told her no worries, might have been no problem, I said I could handle it, as she had the hard bit. She handled all the money and books, and everything else.

The Hordern was a ‘One Star’ hotel, I assure you back in the 60’s a starred hotel in the bush was as rare as hens teeth. There were several self-contained suites, which made it the hotel of choice, for business people, and sales reps, passing through, better than the motels in town, we sold booze !

Good bars, really good dining room, with the works; with a top cook, June, we didn’t bung on the side with chefs back then, June was a beauty, with a mighty kitchen. She liked to feed me. Much later, she let me give a hand in her kitchen, now and then, loved it!

Before he got carted off, Goochie would come and take over the bars, around 1 0’clock, and I’d go off have some lunch, and then go rest up/ doze off for a couple of hours, and I’d get cleaned up and back down around 4, and with just a short break for dinner, was in the bar/s until stumps were drawn. 10 pm was closing time.

The cops would wander in around 10.10, make sure we had stopped serving, and hang around ‘til the last customer went through the door at 10.15. They’d then depart; Goochie was against giving beers to the cops, couldn’t see the need for it.

He kept to the rules, and regulations, that governed the liquor industry, and there was no point slipping the boys in blue, a couple of beers, so that they’d turn a blind eye now and then, if he went outside the law, because he never did!

Now suddenly this all changed; come 1 o’clock, no relief, Rae came in to the bar for a while to help the barmaid/s; somedays lunch time was quiet, and we only needed one, while I ducked out, had a quick bite, and then back into the fray.

Busy, busy, and I was having a great old time, keeping the beer flowing, having a drink with the customers, doing everything that Goochie did, keeping the ball rolling, and the cash registers flowing. Every day!

The Sunday was good. Only worked about seven hours, over a nine or ten hour period.

I’d lost all sense of time, and days, except for opening and closing, and I had the coppers to myself at closing. They never got a drink out of me either. Rae, and the barmaids were off doing the tills, counting the money, a busy place a pub, after the doors close! I had the cellar to do.

Clear and clean, the lines get most things ready for another start, in 11½ hours, roll out the empties, throw in the full kegs, I really was having the time of my life.

About a fortnight or so after getting carted off Goochie was brought home, and tucked up in his nice little bed, might have been a big one, for all I know. I never got to see him. Too busy.

Being a popular publican, he had more than enough visitors from the customers clamoring to see him, and wish him well, without need of my bothering him; I’m not very good with sick people in bed.

The following Monday, after he was home I still hadn’t called by to pay my respects; too busy running his pub; when Rae brought the pay around. In the liquor industry in the 60s  and 70’s. and I believe it still goes, the staff are paid on the Monday, right up to and including the Sunday just past; no monies were/are allowed to be withheld.

Any way when Rae gave me mine, she told me that on Goochie’s instructions, I’d been given a raise, and that there would not be any board taken out. Live in hotel workers in the country, are usually charged a small/reasonable, amount for board, which is fair enough. Now mine was waived.

And the raise? My pay had been doubled.

Seems that all the visitors Goochie had, whilst confined to his room and bed, were put through a third degree by him, wanting to know how I was doing, seems that the customers were more than happy, and hadn’t missed him, as the pub was running as smoothly, or better than ever; mind there was a fair bit of pull the other one Charlie going on there!

So after less than a month, I’m part of the family; Sunday nights after closing and a bite to eat, Goochie, Rae and  two of his daughters, Faye and June, and I, retired to  their living room, put our feet up and watched the television, and never had any booze!

Even Rae’s two cats took to me, ‘Boots’ and ‘Socksie’, Boots was the mother and about 15 -16 years old, when I first got there, and Socksie the daughter a young thing of 13 or 14. I’d be relaxed on the biggest sofa, and they’d somehow curl themselves up around my neck and shoulders. They were nice cats.

It must have been a few months later, a Monday morning, and Goochie was with me while I was setting up for the day, and he told me that the Union blokes, were coming to town that day, and that I’d have to join the Union, it was compulsory; he was very apologetic for reasons unknown, he didn’t write the law! I told him no problem.

Around about 11 this nasty (little), rather large Irishman, came into the bar, said to me “my names O’Sullivan, and I’m the secretary of whatever the union was known as, You have to join the Union; here’s the papers to fill in, and it will cost you so much” I can’t recall how much anyway it’s not important. As I said a nasty little man!

I told him “Yes I know Goochie’s already told and explained that to me”. I then told him that he’d have to come back after lunch, after I’d been paid, to collect the money. I was damned if I was going to make it easy, and give it to him there and then, and save him the bother of coming back, No way.

Then of course I did what you’re not supposed to do; I read the papers that he’d handed me with all the rules regulations. The lot.

‘Hello Hello’ says me, ‘what’s this? I can apply to the Industrial Commissioner in Perth and ask for exemption”, say no more.

Sometime after lunch, Mr O’Sullivan came back, and asked for my dues. “ Hold on” says me, “ These papers that you gave me, say that I can apply to the Industrial Commissioner for an exemption, so I shall be doing that, I’ll be sending off my application, by registered mail, in tonights post”

Well, did it hit the fan!

I have a feeling that nobody had ever thrown this at him. He started ranting on “ That bloody Goochie put you up to this!” I told him quite calmly that “Mr Gooch had told me that I had to join your union, and I was quite prepared to do so, until I read these papers you gave me, so don’t blame him”.

He told me, quite explicitly, that if it wasn’t for the Union, I wouldn’t have such a good paying job, and conditions, to which I replied , I didn’t think the Union could have got me the pay, and benefits, that I was getting.

With that he stormed off, cursing and swearing, looking for poor old Goochie, still recovering from a heart attack. When he caught up with him, he demanded to see the books, which was quite within his rights, the Union bosses were allowed to demand the books, to make sure, that their members were not being ripped off.

Surprise, surprise, Mr. O’Sullivan, all staff were paid all that they were entitled to, plus, and mine was more than plus, he was unable to fault it. The Goochies were unusual hoteliers in a way; they only kept one set of books.

After lunch, I wrote and got my letter off to the I.C. in Perth, mailed it, registered, and sat back and waited.

A few days later, I got a reply from the Commissioner, wanting more details, and my full reasons for wanting exemption. So back to the desk, another very long letter, I probably threw in the Magna Carta , The Bill of Rights (not that we have one here) the United Nations and the US Constitution, damned if I can remember, I know it was a very long letter!

Some days passed, and I received a call, asking me to come to Perth to  discuss this matter with the Commissioner, as he was in a bit of a quandary. I think I must have been the only person ever to apply for an exemption, from a Union, and he was at a bit of a loss. I was having fun now.  I made an appointment for the Thursday; I usually managed to get a ‘day off’ on a Thursday, and up I went.

The meeting went on, and on, and the Commissioner kept saying that he still couldn’t see any good reason, for granting me an exemption, this must have been going on for the best part of an hour, I kid you not! I was getting a bit grumpy, but keeping it under control, he then said something which got me riled, and I gave him a burst.

Obviously it worked, for when I’d calmed down, he decided that I did indeed have  strong reasons, and he would grant me an exemption. I would however, be required to pay the annual union dues, in one hit, not the normal deduction from the pay, and the money was to be paid, to his department, where it would then  be given to charity.

I send fine, I’ll send you a bank cheque, immediately I get back to Narrogin, we shook hands, and as we were walking towards the door he said to me. “Now I have the task of calling Mr. O’Sullivan, and telling him that I’ve granted you exemption. He’s not going to like this. He has been ringing me every day, some times more than once, demanding I refuse your application, and when am I going to stop playing around and do so”

I smiled, and thanked him for his consideration.

I did wonder if he’d enjoyed the experience, as I flew along the highway, back the 120 miles to Narrogin, and home to the waiting throng. All the customers knew what was happening, Narrogin, a railway town, and a Union town, they were probably running a ‘book’ on the outcome.

Anyway, I got back, threw my gear in my room, dashed over to my bank, got a bank cheque, shoved it in an envelope, with a covering letter of thanks, posted it and headed back to the bar.

 “How’d it go” was the greeting no “G’day how yer goin”; so, with a great display of dignity, I advised them that justice prevailed. and I was granted exemption. Big cheers went up. Seems that though it was a Union town, they liked the idea of a worker taking on a Union, and winning. I didn’t have to buy my drinks that night!

Actually I have nothing against Unions, and I’d have been quite happy to join, and pay my dues, I’d been in many Unions before; it was the arrogance and attitude of Mr. O’Sullivan that got my back up, and when I read those papers like I was supposed not to do, I couldn’t resist, I had to apply and win!

That was on a Thursday.

The following week; I can’t recall if it was Tuesday or Wednesday, we received the news that Mr. O’Sullivan had had a violent heart attack, over the weekend, and had died.

 I don’t think I’ll bother with that poll.

38 thoughts on “Blood on my hands? Might be! Guilty conscience? No way!

  1. Well done in making yourself at home. As for the union man, you are such a tough opponent, Brian. I once took a management job in a Local Authority where Union membership was compulsory. I didn’t like being compelled, but I thought it was fair enough to contribute as they negotiated our salaries. Later I had to discipline a nasty little staff member. The Union Rep tricked me over a time scale, so we had to keep the tyke. When I protested that, although I was a manager, as a Union member I was entitled to fair dealing I was told that that did not apply to managers. I left the union. No-one sacked me.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’ve never taken to stand over merchants Derrick, and he was! I can’t ever recall backing down from a confrontation, I was too scared of my mother as a lad, and she would not have allowed it; hard times the late 30’s and early 40’s when I was a lad, had to stand up and fight for yourself, at times literally.
      He must have been a smart one to trick you eh?
      I never objected to being in a union and paying my dues, even though I rarely got paid at the union negotiated rates, I can only recall that happening once, that’s when I worked in the aviation industry

      Liked by 1 person

      1. He just lied and I was naive


        1. It must be nice to be naive sometimes

          Liked by 1 person

    2. I joined the Local Government Union NALGO, mostly because they had a social club with a subsidised bar and a holiday camp in Cornwall,

      Liked by 2 people

        1. But you joined for honourable reasons Derrick, Andrew because they had a good bar and holiday camp

          Liked by 2 people

      1. In other words you just used them tch tch Andrew, for shame!


        1. Well that’s something! 😛


  2. I’ve only joined a union when the job required it, but I think they’ve become just as political as the government and have out-lived their purpose. Or maybe that’s just here in the States.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Just there in the States GP, They have done much more good than harm in Australia. I’m actually all for them,

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Poor old Mr O’Sullivan!
    Before I went to university and began teaching Computing full time I was a teaching assistant. Our headteacher didn’t like the idea of the assistants joining a union. This Made us even more determined!
    We assistants filled in the union forms and as I’d already taken over managing the computing, trouble shooting, installations, purchasing and liasing with engineers I entered everything on my form.
    Shortly after, I received a call from the union asking me to forward a copy of my payslip. It turned out that men doing my job were getting paid more than me. Eventually I received a cheque of a few thousand pounds in backpay from the local authority! I was also instructed not to talk about it to other members of staff!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. and that’s why Unions are needed; I hope you spread the word to your co-workers


  4. Not much of an exemption if you still had to pay the dues. I’ve never liked unions and having to pay their dues is one big reason. Around here those dues go to supporting political causes that I might not agree with. I figure unions became an anachronism as soon as we passed fair labor laws and eliminated child labor.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have no problem with paying their dues, if I’m to receive the benefits that they’ve gained for their members then it’s only right that I should pay for that privilege; I cannot see why I should get all that a Union member is entitled to if I’m not a member, If I can negotiate better good, but the Unions do have greater negotiating power than the average to poor everyday worker

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Being bullied has never worked well with me and being forced to hand over money which can be used in ways that I’d rather not, is a red flag.
      We’re lucky this is a right to work state and you are not forced to join unions in order to work. Unions were needed at one time, but the employment laws/world has changed a great deal. Now unions are often the problem.
      I’ve never felt positive about unions since HS when a friend of mine’s small-ish accountant dad was waylaid by union tugs striking at the port and badly injured because he went to work and crunched numbers. Violence not helping their cause or image.


      1. The Unions in Australia have been of great advantage to this country, I know the American dislike of them, but they have and do much more good in this country than bad. I am all for them. naturally there are some that like to make plenty of noise, bluff and bluster but by and large they are a great asset I might even say need in this country.
        I’d never come across a union official like that Mr O’Sullivan before or since,he got my back up, like you I can’t stand bullies, I must admit that I have slapped a couple down literally, I may not be big, but what I lack in height and weight never ever stopped me from having a swing.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Unions did a lot of good originally. East Coast is pretty strong with them still – despite their tactics. Actually joined 2 different ones (different times and from different arenas) Sometimes when people won’t listen you need numbers and established institution behind you to get the point across. Good to be able to be stand up for yourself – respect earned!


        2. There are many, probably the majority, of the people who wont say boo to a ghost, and can’t stand for themselves, this is where Unions are necessary. I’ve never had that problem, an arrogant sort of bloke I suppose, too cocky and self confident. Been flattened a few times though 😛

          Liked by 1 person

        3. Ah, but if you’re not fighting someone or something, you’re really not living?


  5. Unions have their place, and have made a difference to the lives of working men and women. I think the days of the tough union bosses are over though, and they, not unions are the anachronism, today. Great yarn, Bear!


    1. Thank you Diane, In Australia Unions, I feel, still have there place and a lot to do; and many that need them.


  6. You definitely met some interesting people AND I love how you stood up for what was right! 🙂
    I think unions can be very helpful.
    Your stories/memories are so exciting to read, Lord 🐻 iOfBow! Thank you for sharing them!
    HUGS!!! 🙂


    1. I’ve met many interesting people Carolyn and I’m going to see if I can throw off the lethargy and star writing some more.
      I’m a strong believer and advocate of the Union movement, and frankly I think that the US could do with a strong movement. from what I read and hear.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You are a good writer and have an interesting life to share! So please keep writing and sharing your stories! 🙂


  7. Always good to read the fine print and all papers! Cheers for you! (and great stories…when’s your book coming out?)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Been a bad habit of mine Phil, love to read the small print, as I think they bung it in so that we won’t and they don’t want us to!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Did you have a hand in bumping him off?
    But it could hardly have happened to a more deserving soul.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. He was a nasty overbearing man, I must admit, that for a short time after I was informed of his death, so soon after I’d had my fun and games with him, that I was responsible. It wore off soon enough.


      1. As well it should have. Sometimes these Union blokes can be worse than a mean and rotten employer.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Fortunately I never came across another like him, and rarely a rotten boss, in fact I can’t recall one. Must have been because I was a perfect employee.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. It certainly seems thus. One who goes above and beyond the call of duty. Sadly rare.

          Liked by 1 person

        3. I’ve always enjoyed working and aiming to be top dog in whatever job I was doing.
          It was much more enjoyable than the last 25/30 years I was working for myself.

          Liked by 1 person

        4. Tell me about it. That is the time when one gets an impossibly demanding and unreasonable boss.


  9. Back in my much younger days I was asked to join a union and I didn’t, because I was young and full of myself and didn’t see why I had to be part of a crowd, and because I believed the bad press that unions were militant bullies. Over the years I slipped up into management roles where I could not join the union. I tried hard in those roles to be fair to those who reported to me as I never forgot my working-class roots. I often had oversight for ensuring they were paid as per the respective award, or, more latterly, for recommending their pay-rises; and this frequently put me at odds with my employers – but I usually persuaded them my way. Good employees aren’t simply a “bum on a seat”. If a person’s performance did not merit their wage then it was that performance I focused on, not how much they were paid, and sometimes that meant they had to leave and I would get the person who deserved to be paid good money in comparison to others in similar occupations. I had a reputation for building highly-effective teams. BUT! When John Howard got rid of the industrial commission and brought in individual workplace contracts, trying to break down the award system with its basic pay and condition guidelines, my subordinates were on a hiding to nothing. Whenever it was time to hire a new staff member I did my best for them, but when you are one individual frontline clerk pitched against the might of a multi-national company, then you are never going to get all that you should. I advised all my reports to join the union. Some of the newbies, young and full of themselves like I once was, thought I was a dinosaur to suggest it. They soon learned the only way they would increase their salary over time, would be to give up on this company and seek another job elsewhere. And as we now know, wages have been stagnant for at least the last ten years. The median wage is $55k per year, which is what most of my team were earning when I left in 2008.

    I am also the wife of a Patricks stevedore who was a highly valuable “tally” clerk and brought years of experience with customs and quarantine to his role, and was the go-to person for importers and exporters as they knew his good reputation, dedication, conscientiousness and reliability. He endured thirteen weeks locked out of his rightful workplace with no pay on the basis that Corrigan wanted to casualise the workforce and had the Government in his pocket to achieve it. Without the union, Bill, and many of his colleagues, would never have got their jobs back.

    In my opinion, with the increase of casualisation across all work sectors, the stagnation of wages, the push to abolish weekend penalty rates for our lowest-paid workers, the unreasonable unpaid additional hours expected of most annualised wage-earners, the inability of those on insecure and inconsistent hourly rates to get loans and mortgages, coupled with the obscene salary packages and bonuses that senior executives are paid, the “outing” of corrupt, immoral and downright illegal activities of some of those, such as has been revealed through the royal commission into the finance sector, we are now seeing a return to the conditions of the late 19th century which laid the groundwork for the rise of unionism in the first place.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. When I first saw this in my side bar I thought it was a “post” on your site, I get that quite a lot from those I follow , then it dawned upon me,’
      I was not and am not against Unionism, in fact I’m a firm believer in it, but I am against arrogant bullies, They’ii get nothing from me only what they deserve.
      We need unionism here in Oz cos not everyone is an arrogant s.o.b. like me; who’s always enjoyed a stoush!

      Liked by 1 person

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