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.