Saturday, July 23, 2011

Townsville's Exchange Hotel to keep - ahem - abreast of the times, Rupert tells it the way it is, and another bedroom bandicoot for The Lodge?

First, on the local front, it's not so much about what's going on, it's more about what's coming off.

The venerable old Exchange Hotel on Via Vomitorium (aka Flinders Street East) is about to become a tits and bum bar ... err, sorry, that is a Gentlemens' Club, along the lines of Santa Fe Gold across the road. 

Topless gals downstairs in the ground floor bars, and upstairs, poor impoverished waifs who can barely afford a pair of wooly, sequined knickers will make do on chilly nights by warming their goose bumps with impromptu lap dances on blokes who take a sort of paternal pity on their plight. Aussie blokes are good that way. They can always rise to the occasion.

How did all this come about? Read on here at this week's Magpie's Nest
Owners of the Exchange, Greg Rains and Michael O'Keefe recently tarted up the old lady to the tune of a purported $3.5million, which attracted the attention of entrepreneur Graham Laird. Mr Laird made them an offer to lease the pub as the latest in his growing empire of ogle and goggle establishments. The `Pie is told the deal will done on Monday morn.

Mr Laird and his two business mates appear to have struck it rich in their 'less is more' philosophy concerning staff uniforms. They already have three such establishments. The southern anchor of this chain is Grosvenor on George in Brisbane where The `Pie understands employees' welfare and comfort comes first,  to the point where two ladies shower in glass-encased booths behind the main bar. The `Pie understands that plastic drinkware is required here now, after it was noted that the old style glasses were regularly smashed as they slipped from trembling fingers whenever one of the showering lasses retrieved artfully dropped soap. 

Mr Laird and co also have a similar philanthropic operation on the Gold Coast, and a booming little Show Bar number in Mackay catering to the flies of the fly in/fly out blokes from the mines.

Mongrel the Barrister's Dictionary of Deplorable definitions describes lap dancing as 'a naval encounter without loss of seamen'. He never could spell.

The Magpie predicts there will be those who will not find this a laughing matter - not even a titter - and the Tut-Tut-o-metre among the Tupperware set will start to sound like cicadas inside a snare drum when the word gets out. 

On the national scene, while Julia Gillard would no doubt like to complete her handiwork on her predecessor KRudd and stand in for his heart surgeon when he goes under the knife for a new heart valve, she is almost certainly facing her own night of the long knives. The tom-toms have gone into top gear this week, and it seems unanimous in Labor corridors that 'Julia has to go'. 

But to make way for whom? Any half-worthy candidate with a half-worthy brain would be ducking behind the caucus room curtains to avoid this particular poisoned chalice. But a couple of names have bobbed up, the least likely being the Clark-Kentish Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficency Greg Combet.

The other contender, the small but perfectly formed Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation Bill Shorten, raises an interesting question.

Are we as a nation facing yet another bedroom bandicoot in The Lodge? 

You'll remember that the old Silver Bodgie, Bob Hawke, was ever the pants man from day one, and, in Mongrel the Barrister's lamentably grubby view, 'would have a go at a hole in a barber shop's floor because there was hair around it hur, hur, hur'.

But one could be forgiven for suspecting our Bill is also a bit of a root rat, despite now being married to super good sort Chloe, daughter of GG Quentin Bryce.

Like Hawke, Shorten came to politics via lofty union office (head of the AWU), in which position he came to national attention when the Tasmanian miners were trapped in 2006. During their fortnight underground, The Short 'Un demonstrated a continual fondness for the TV cameras that rivaled that of Jenny Hill.

At that time he was married to Deb Beale, daughter of true blue former Libs MP Julian Beale, after ending a previous live-in arrangement with Labor MP and minister Nicola Roxon.

He then stood for the seat of Maribyrnong and won it. 

Here's the funny thing, though. Despite the fact that he was already playing footsie - and other appendages - with Chloe on the side, this is what he had to say publicly to the House about his missus.

'Above all others - and I can say this on Valentine's Day - I thank my wife, Deb Beale, an endlessly intelligent, supportive and loving woman. (He wisely didn't include 'unsuspecting') I knew this instantly from my first outing when she agreed to visit a picket line with me.' Ah, love's young dream.

But Billy Boy showed his ingrained political chops with a quick change of mind - a sort of mid-wife crisis -  and dumped the endlessly intelligent, supportive and loving woman for the already pregnant Chloe, who he'd got up the duff after she had given her the heave-ho to own architect hubby. They soon married, with his new mum-in-law no doubt making it clear that she was a whiz with a double-barrelled pump-action shotgun. 

Bill, a personable but very serious bloke when The Magpie had a 20 minute chat to him in Townsville a couple of years ago, seems to have a fickle mind in some areas, so maybe that is why Labor sees him as the ideal mannikin for the top job.

By contrast, fickle is not a word you would apply to Wendi (Mrs Rupert M) Deng, who did her ruthless, Hard Hearted Hanna image a power of PR good by delivering a mighty right hook to that twerp who tried to plant a shaving cream pie in hubby's Rup's walnut-like dial. She sure was a damn sight more convincing in defending her man in the incident than was a whimpy, limp-wristed James Murdoch in jumping in to protect his pater's pate.

The whole disgusting episode put The Magpie in mind of author Humbert Wolfe's prescient conclusion about the matter, when, in 1930, he wrote:

You cannot hope to bribe or twist,
Thank God the British journalist
But, seeing what the man will do,
There's no occasion to.

While we're visiting this issue, if you feel that Rupe's oft-mentioned various visits to the great and powerful were merely for a cuppa and a 'well done that man, thanks old chap' - as he repeatedly suggested was the extent of his canoodling with heads of government - The Magpie recalls a quote from the great man some years ago that makes clear he was under no illusion about his power.

A pommy politician was arguing the point and taking Rupert to task over some matter in a somewhat robust manner. The conversation abruptly ended when the media mogul quietly observed' I find it very strange and unwise for someone to pick a fight with someone who buys newsprint by the tonne'.

Enough for this week, it is time to waddle away to Poseurs' Bar, for the old bird's own discussion of possible mergers, not so much of the business kind, more following the Shorten model.   


  1. Wouldn't that be the ultimate in political nepotism.. Little Billy being anointed by his ma-in-law (mkII).

  2. Conan the GrammarianJuly 23, 2011 at 7:48 PM

    Am I alone in wondering if Greg Combet is actually comedienne Hannah Gadsby's alter ego? Has anyone ever seen them both in the same room?

  3. always informed. intelligent and entertaining, a good read this week!
    Mysterfied of Mysterton