There is one pub in Hornswood which is lovely now, but twenty years ago was dodgy. It was rough, known as a hangout for bikies, dealers and tough dudes.

I was at a work function in ’96 and for some reason, we had moved from a trendy bar in the city, to The Hornswood Dodgy Hotel. We had been drinking… heaps.

Anyway, nature called. I needed to shake hands with the man. So I made my way through the crowd to the gents.

There was a woman in there, by herself, looking in the mirror. She turned and gave me the old stink-eye. She was not happy to see me at all.

Nor was I happy to see her. That place is the last true bastion of manhood.

Angry woman in the men’s – “Wrong place you f#cking idiot, this is the ladies!

She had a really aggressive tone. It instantly got my back up.

Me – “Actually I think you’re in the wrong place (I left a deliberate pause where she had used f#cking idiot, to take the moral high ground), this is the men’s.

Angry woman in the men’s – “Why would I be in the men’s?

My brain was a bit cloudy, but I came up with the perfect retort.

Me – “Well… why would I be in the ladies?” It felt good. I now had the moral high ground and the psychological advantage.

Angry woman in the men’s – “Because you’re a drunk f#cking idiot!


Me – “Whoa, whoa, whoa! I’m not drunk.

I was drunk.

I did take a sneaky look around and couldn’t see any urinal, but it could have been around the corner. And the place did smell quite nice. However, I was standing my ground.

Me – “The only way we can settle this is to wait for the next person to enter.

She sighed deeply.

Me – “If I’m wrong, I’ll admit you’re right and that I’m a drunk f#cking idiot. If you’re wrong, you admit that just being sober and angry, doesn’t make you right.

With such high stakes, I was getting a little nervous.

We talked coolly for a few moments, about nothing really, just two people who didn’t really want to be in each other’s company, making chit-chat. I put off shaking hands with the man, until the situation was clarified.

Finally the door opened inwards and a large Maori looking, BLOKE, walked in.


I threw up my hand to high-five the big man. He ignored me.

Me – “Don’t leave me hangin’ bud.” I waved my high-five-awaiting hand around a bit.

Maori looking bloke – “ARSEHOLE, you’re in the ladies. Out!

Damn. I felt like a fool. I obediently started to follow the bouncer.

Angry woman in the ladies – “Don’t you have something to say?

She gave me the stink eye again. This time it really burned.

Me – “I was wrong.

I started towards the door, which the bouncer held open.

Angry woman in the ladies – “And?

Me – “Huh?

Angry woman in the ladies – “Annnd?

Me – “And I’m a drunk f#cking idiot.

Angry woman in the ladies – “Thank you.” She turned to the mirror and continued to put on makeup.

Maori looking bloke – “Drunk hey? Time to go home then arsehole.

Anyway, it took some time, but I eventually talked my way out of being evicted. And an hour or so later… it was time to shake hands with the man again.

Into the gents (this time) I went and just for a second, I thought the two blokes at the sinks were women, because the previous run-in still burned fresh in my mind and they both were tending to their particularly long hair. One was wetting his hair down and one looked to be tying his back in a pony-tail.

I was so relieved that I hadn’t made the same mistake again.

Me – “Jeez boys, I thought I was in the ladies!

I wish I had thought before I spoke, a common failing for me.

The two men stood straight up and turned. They were massive, scary, bikies! One was about six-foot five, the other was not much shorter. Big men. Lots of neck tattoos, muscles, bikie colours, thick moustaches, the works. They looked ready to bollard me to death.

I knew if I didn’t turn the mood around immediately, I was gone. I took a punt.


They were huge. I’m not small, six-foot one and 111.6kg (which I round down to 111), but these boys both dwarfed me. They didn’t laugh. One of them started towards me. I had to take one last crack at making them see the funny side. Everything seemed to be going in slow motion.

Me – “Two really unattractive ladies… one of which is carrying a bit of extra weight.” I pointed at the biggest bloke. He had a big gut.

They burst into laughter. It was sweet music to my ears.

One bikie (through laughter) – “Fu#k me Felon, I can’t believe he called you a lady. THAT’S A FIRST!” He was struggling to get the words out.

FelonAnd you a fat fu#king lady!” They laughed hard.

I urinated (all the while thinking I can’t believe he’s called Felon), washed my hands and left, while they still laughed loudly inside.

As the door shut behind me, another bikie approached. Not as big, but equally as scary.

New, equally as scary bikie – “What’s fu#kin’ goin’ on in there?

Me – “Felon’s just having a bit of a laugh.

New, equally as scary bikie Felon’s laughing at something you said? Well fu#k me.

I made my way back to my table and my very much out-of-place work friends. I sat down quietly. Ten minutes later Felon sent over a schooner and a whiskey shot.

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Here’s one of the more hilarious things I can remember seeing.

About 20 years ago, eight of us lads were at an Eastern Suburbs bowling club. We had been there since midday, bowling for a while but mainly drinking ridiculously heavily. We had the place to ourselves all day, however as evening approached there was some sort of “barefoot night-time bowls” action, so it slowly became busier and busier.

Anyway, at about 8:00 pm, a MASSIVE storm blew over. And I mean massive! Thunder, lightning, bucketing rain, the works. We along with about 60 or so other bowlers, all rushed into the clubhouse to get out of the squall. However, our mate Mac (keep in mind we’d been drinking heavily since midday) was too out-of-it to budge. He was in the bad place of over-intoxication and could not move (or be moved) off the bench.

Mac, back then, was 112kg, 6 foot 4, commando in the army, so we physically could not move him. Not in our state anyway. So we had to leave him sitting out in the perfect storm. We stood around with old bowlers, with our beers and watched and laughed at our friend out there, unmoving as wind and rain lashed him.

While keeping an eye through the window on Mac (being responsible 25-year-olds at the time), we made our plans to relocate to a slightly more lads-on-the-piss type bar, when finally, after what must have been an hour sitting in the soaking tempest, Mac suddenly sprang to life.

For whatever reason, he got his second wind and amazingly he wandered into the bowling club without stumbling or anything.

He looked like he’d just stepped out of a pool. As EVERYBODY in the place had been laughing at Mac on a bench in a hurricane, he get a rousing round of applause. He was wet, embarrassed and intoxicated.

Mac spotted us standing just off to the side of the only pool table. He wondered over, looked ridiculous, but relatively with-it. He approached me.

Me – “Mac, you’re alive! It’s your f##king shot mate. Hurry up! We’ve been waiting long enough. It’s your shot! We’re on bigs.

Now Mac after his sleep, was feeling quite spritely and in control of his senses.

All 6”4”, 112kg of Mac leaving puddles wherever he stopped, spied our opponents in the pool game. Two ten-year-old boys.

There’s only one pool cue in the place and it’s old, bent and rough. Mac, feeling better and better, wandered over and confidently plucked the cue out of the overweight ten-year-old’s hands. With a look of complete disdain for the kid, Mac leaned over, water running off his chin and onto the table, and somehow managed to sink the purple twelve. The right ball even.

This success, went straight to Mac’s head. He’d been feeling terrible, sitting in a typhoon, while dozens of people sniggered at him. He had gone, in just a few short moments, from the laughing stock of the establishment, to the kick-arse pool shark, who’d just shown them all! The sky was now the limit for Mac. He had his dignity back.

Going a bit over the top with his one-ball success, Mac raised the cue above his head and did a mocking dance in front of the pudgy little kid. He chanted loud and proud, like he’d just won a Grand Final.


The child just looked up at the massive man. His face had a mixture of fear, surprise and… well more fear. The kid’s mother then bustled up to Mac. She came up to about his navel. She was VERY angry.

Mother – “WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING YOU BIG DUFUS? WHY DON’T YOU GO BACK AND SIT ON YOUR BENCH YOU… MORON.” She slapped the cue out of his hands. It bounced on the carpeted floor.

Now Mac even in his inebriated mind knew that his mocking dance and mocking words, had possibly been out of line when playing a child. And he definitely did see fear in the ten-year-olds eyes when he discoed in front of him, but come on! That’s what playing pool when you’re out with the lads is all about. He considered telling the mother that it’s just part of the game, to lighten up a little, but she looked really mad so he didn’t.

Mac wandered back to us lads and we were in hysterics. I personally can’t ever remember laughing louder or longer.

Mac – “Jeez the mum’s a bit touchy.

More laughter.

Me – “Mac (I put a hand on his shoulder) we weren’t actually playing (a lot more laughter).”

He froze. It dawned on him. His jaw dropped. We weren’t actually playing. He’s rocked up to this little ten-year-old who’s having a quiet game of pool with his brother, plucked the cue out of his chubby little hands, sunk one of his balls and had done a teasing “in your face” dance, right in front of the terrified kid. No wonder his mum slapped the cue out of his hands.

Mac then stumbled over to the mother, his new-found sobriety having been torn from him and tried to shout them another game of pool.

Mother – “Keep away from my children”.

We laughed. Mac dripped.

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