2 September, 2015. 11:10
CLANCY OVERELL | Editor | Contact
Newcastle bartender, Mike Lillee has seen it all. From the pre-lock out violence that once rocked the Hunter, to the post-Newcastle Knights premiership benders.
But nothing winds him up more than the self-importance of drunk businessmen who feel that their networking skills extend into the front bar of the General Post Hotel, a venue that he manages.
“It’s the worst, mate. That whole ‘I’ve been working in Sydney all day, I could get you a job down there’ attitude is not welcome in Newy. Let alone this pub,”
In that same heritage-listed hotel, Mr Lillee is currently stroking the ego of a “well-connected” first time patron. A well-dressed alcoholic by the name of Peter.
“Do you know Nath Tinkler? Does he own this joint?” Peter asks Mike.
“Nah, mate” says the frustrated publican. Peter tries again.
“What about Singo? You know, John Singleton? Does he own this joint?”
Mike Lillee informs us that this game of trial and error name-dropping could easily last the next two hours. It’s only 5:30 but it seems Peter may have attended a long lunch before arriving here, alone.
This bizarre circumstance isn’t uncommon, Mike tells us. “These blokes aren’t usually able to turn off. They spend each working hour talking shit with clients and investors, then they pull into places like this one to unwind”
“The only person they have to talk to is me, the publican, and the only thing they have to talk to me about is their wealthy mates who might be my boss”
Back at the bar, Mike ends up giving in to Peter’s desperate pleas to dignify his presence.
“Does Clive Palmer own this pub? Or is Matty Johns? One of the Johns boys?” asks the Peter, the businessman from Manly.
“Clive Palmer owns it,” says Mike, lying through his teeth in an attempt to end the conversation.
“I thought so!” says the excited 45-year-old patron. “Clive’s a good mate of mine”
“Yeah, he’s a good bloke,” says Mike as he avoids eye-contact and begins cutting limes that will end up being thrown out.
“Make sure you tell him I was here,” says Peter, as he decides to orders another beer.
“I will, mate,” Mike continues to avoid eye contact.
Mike tells us just how he feels about this.
“Blokes like this really piss me off. I mean sure, I make a lot of cash off them… But I do get pretty offended by these kinds of questions,
“I have owned this pub since 1996 and for some reason they don’t think that that could possibly be the case. I’m probably the same age as this bloke,”
“And I can guarantee you this bloke will be here at 10pm, asking for a take away bottle of red wine after lock-out. He’ll tell me just how good of mates he is with Clive Palmer, and how it will be worth my while,”