The bondi diggers – an employee roster, 1969
He used to cover the bike at night when he was travelling over from WA when he had to sleep by the road. No chrome twinkles to sparkle up the interest of anyone passing by late at night. Cars that passed by and then stopped a little way down the road, engine and lights turned off.
Only a little man Spider, dark and sharp and quiet. He married the girl someone tried to hypnotise in the back of an old van at Bondi one Saturday night. They gave it up after an hour. Laughing
She wanted to stay, he was Catholic.
Spider worked the club tables for a season doing six-hour shifts upstairs in the big room on Saturday nights – until he yanked two cash jackpots at the same time an hour before his shift started – and watching him stuffing handfuls of coins into his pockets was fretful as Ron Tighe, the hardest man ever to run a licensed club, came thundering slowly up the stairs. A couple of us walked Spider downstairs to the change rooms after he was sacked, clink clink clink. More laughter. Ron let him keep the money.
Spider collected knives, silver and ivory handled, beautiful and ornate and they gleamed all over one wall in his Maroubra flat the last night we all ate over there, played Eno and smoked a couple of crumbly lumps of Lebanese gold.
He was a camp as a row of tents. Gay, and always Michael. Never Mick, never Mike. Michael would glisten with outrage when somebody aroused his disapproval. All so arch..
Ron liked his queenly temperament, his regal qualities, and Michael managed the top-floor bar and the prize-fighters who pretended to be drink waiters with a savage mirth. He guarded the till, ridiculed the floorshow, seduced the cooks – kept the trays loaded and managed our personal inventory on the night. This will be explained later, all that needs to be known is that the drink waiters bought their order from Michael at the bar. Feel his Power. And then sold them to the patrons, who knew the prices – until about 10 pm.
Naldo. Chef. An evil-tempered little toad of an Italian with a hatred of food. He handled the departing tray-loads of hot dinners with dismissive loathing. His kitchen sounded Orwellian, smelt sour.
Naldo would sometimes take a drink to settle his wrath, embed it even deeper into his hot moods. He was a small man, fat and wet with an unending stream of perspiration – he steamed.
Though inexplicably there were the nights when he brought out trays of food for the bar staff. Oysters and prawns, pastries –
Archie minded the door, and the pool. Avuncular he was, and the tides of life had streamed passed him many times. Plus nobody got into the best indoor pool and steam room on the beach unless Archie loved you. This love was good to cultivate during summer. Archie also controlled the lift that rose from the pool floor to the members bar, the bar with a big window looking over the beach.
Archie had a golden nod.