The Tuesday Boozers Club
Featured Image: ‘The Little White Bull’ Reg Watts on ‘Norma’, Sydney Royal 1938; Photo courtesy of Chris Winter
The Tuesday Boozers Club (TBC) at the Belmore Hotel was an iconic totem of a bygone era celebrated by a unique cadre of bucolic individuals. The Belmore Hotel Scone was the spiritual home of the TBC! For eons of time the weekly Fat Stock Cattle Sale has been held at the various Scone Sale Yard locations every Tuesday of the year barring major public holiday clashes. This became the pilgrimage destination for many outlying farmers and graziers seeking business transactions allied to social interaction with their agents and associates. For some this included well lubricated sessions of discourse in the select bar of the Belmore Hotel with mine hosts Jim and Audrey Cotton at the helm. There were variable sessions of condolence, congratulation, consideration and commiseration. Wives, girlfriends and de factos were expected to visit and meet with relatives and friends or engage in other social, civic and sporting pursuits for the duration of the sale and its aftermath. They could collect their bread-winner at the appointed hour for the return journey.
Every Christmas a special dinner was held to cement the year’s activities and seal friendships not excluding the long suffering spouses! This was funded in part by contributions to a swear box at 20 cents per expletive! The swear box was Audrey’s valiant although not too serious attempt to improve the standard of conversation at the TBC. One day Johnny Del was so exasperated at his inability to adequately express his disgust over a matter of epic proportion he placed $1 on the bar. “Mrs. Cotton [always a gentleman!]! Here is one dollar in advance: ‘F—k, F—k, F—k, F—k, F—k,”! At 5 x 20 cents Johnny’s gremlins were suddenly exorcised in rapid quick fire succession! Coming from a background of Mediterranean ethnicity, Johnny occasionally had trouble with the local vernacular – but not on this occasion!
Reg Watt’s niece Rita used to do a wonderful job looking after her precious Uncle. She told me the post-TBC dinners she prepared for him were always special and every one unique! The actual time and timing was negotiable and the guest list uncertain! It could include fellow TBC members and great mates Fred R. from Ardglen or Ray B. from Aberdeen at very short – make that no notice! All were equally welcome and lavishly entertained! True gentleman Fred was always effusive in his apologies to his favourite sobriquet ‘Sis’ for turning up – yet again – unannounced! Those were indeed the days! The TBC cabal was an eclectic selection of high mountain men from east of Moonan, the Timor cabal, the Rouchel contingent, the Kars Springs cadre and the Bunnan brigade.
“Inside men” including local farmers, business men and most of the agents made up the total cache. Following a suitable “quarantine” incubation period a few “outsiders” were occasionally permitted to join the TBC ranks! The author was one in this category! There was Norm, Roy Mac and the ‘Little White Bull’. Tiger, Tom, Tim, Regis, Paul and Bill were there most days and old George from the sale yards. Tom and Paul et al. from Dalgety’s contributed a regular contingent being closely adjacent to the choice watering hole. Don’s garage was a convenient excuse for some to drop by and pretend to be otherwise engaged at Don’s party. The ‘Galloping Major’ (Imp.) added an exotic dimension in the TBC’s declining years. Discerning contemplation of the very self-evident exquisite lactation potential of fellow countrywoman and ‘hostess’, bar maid Sheila might have formed part of the attraction there! There was a subliminal aura of general convivial appreciation of the female pectoral area pervading the TBC! There were a few dairy farmers. They had a very good eye and knew their selection criteria! ‘Gentleman Jim’ was definitely not on his ‘Pat Malone’!
Reg Watts was a renowned lay-gelder of colts in the pre-veterinary days of Scone. No conversation subject was taboo for the group and erudite philosophical discussion expanded in exponential proportion to the lubricant consumed! Ken from Timor was perhaps the TBC’s most articulate and eloquent exponent. One day after much tub thumping, breast beating and derisory diatribe about the then egregious state of the pork industry in Australia Ken from Timor made his perennially famous consummation pronouncement! “Gentlemen, there you have it, a carefully considered opinion from a genuine team of experts: Pigs is f—-d !” ‘PIF’ became a catch cry for some TBC members for many years to come! Ken always played a straight bat and portrayed an even straighter face closely allied to a very dry droll laconic humour! It would not be stretching the truth too far – although veracity had an elastic quality at the TBC – to claim the Australian Stock Horse Society had its genesis if not its nexus at the TBC.
Many of the ‘good ol’ boys’ like Wattsy, Tiger, Bert and even honorary blow-in Joe Burr from Nundle were very mindful if the impact of the introduction of the American Quarter Horse. They were especially enamoured if not threatened by the slickness of the publicity and marketing machine of the well-oiled importation proponents. They knew they had an equal if not superior product and there was much erudite debate. The outcome was the ‘acorn’ of an idea to form a local horse society dedicated to the ‘Waler’. The Australian Stock Horse Society became the ‘great oak tree’ and history dictates it emanated from meetings at the RAS Royal Easter Show and in Tamworth. I say it started at the TBC in the Belmore! You don’t believe me? Just ask me – and also Tiger, Wattsy, Bert and Joe – if you can find them! I was there. How come I’ve been the honorary veterinarian since inception?
TBC members expatiated at length on much esoteric and some unique philosophy. The timing of departure was a matter of profound debate and each individual reached his own conclusion, usually allied to perceived meteorology and geography gremlins pertaining to the return journey. Pete from Bunnan adduced it was dangerous to drive into the setting western sun. It was therefore necessary to delay leaving until safe to do so! Naturally the time vacuum could not be adequately filled without further consumption of seven ounces and rum chasers. Time was a precious commodity at the TBC and not to be trifled with or wasted! Brock from Rouchel had a different problem but equal, opposite and apposite solution. He had to be home before the sun rose over the Barrington Tops to the east on Wednesday morning! It was all a matter of good timing and very sound logic at the TBC!
Footnote: I am motivated to include this ‘blog’ now because a TBC original stalwart Jack Flaherty has just passed away at age 98 (Christmas 2019). I think he’s the last of the true breed?