THE MORE time passes, the more convinced I become that the mates I grew up with were mostly weird. All top blokes, to be sure, just a little, well… weird. A few were weirder than others and some were borderline normal, but there was always enough mental imbalance showing through to make drinking and riding with them way too much fun.
One of the more normal blokes was Y’rag. That wasn’t his real nickname though, the proper one was Gazza, but seeing how he was an apprentice butcher, and butchers spoke in Retchtub K-lat (backwards for Butcher Talk), he soon became Y’rag. Yeah, I know, the Rechtub K-lat language plays fast and loose with the rules of grammar, but if you don’t like it, you can K-cuf off, you K-cuffin’ T-nuc.
Anyway, Y’rag, or Gazza, as I preferred to call him, wasn’t the weirdest mate, not like, say, Skraps, who’d wheelstand his Trumpy at any opportunity and head-butt people he didn’t like; or Crusty, whose main gig was to see how much of the first bottle of Schnapps he’d have to drink before he upset and/or offended everyone.
While mostly normal, Gazza is the only bloke I know who’s ever got drunk, missed a corner and slammed his bike under the back of a brand new and legally-parked Rolls-Royce, the footpeg puncturing the fuel tank and pissing sizzling petrol onto the hot exhaust pipe while both bike and rider were still wedged underneath! Funnily enough, the Roller’s owner, while not thrilled about the incident, was pretty cool about the debacle; not calling the cops was very cool, allowing Gazza to pay for nothing more than a new fuel tank was okay too, but the best bit was when he got the jack out, jacked up the haemorrhaging Rolls-Royce and released Gazza and the bike, Yay!
Also, up until very recently, when another mate joined him in the Hall of Shame, Gazza was the only bloke I’d ever known who’d hit a horse whilst riding a motorbike. Yeah, sounds scary, doesn’t it. Gazza was whisking along Oxford Falls Road, just near the Wakehurst Parkway, when this giant, dumb-arsed horse freaked out, threw its rider and proceeded to bolt in front of Gazza and his motorbike. It was the last bad decision that nag made, but what happened to Gazza was worse. The sheila the horse had thrown was a young rich girl whose daddy owned a business that was big at the time, and these days, is even huger. The girl must’ve been a bit spoiled, because when she dusted herself off and reached the scene of the carnage (Bikenage and Horsenage?), she raced over to where Gazza lay on the road, all bent and bleeding. Did she comfort him? Ease the pain of his busted leg or collarbone? Naw, she began swearing at him, laying into him with fists and feet and accusing him of deliberately steering into her horse. Gazza could only cover up and gurgle blood until the psycho bitch ran out of rant. She was a good-looking sort, and coincidentally, another one of my strange friends from the Brookie Rex was rootin’ her. Whenever the pub conversation broached motorcycle crashes, dead horses or sexy blondes, normally cordial relationships between certain mates would become decidedly frosty.
Apart from those two episodes, Gazza was just another one of the fellas who rode bikes and drank at the Brookie Rex, the hotel in Brookvale where most of us ratbags hung out for most of the time.
The Brookie Rex, now that I think about it, was a crap pub really. In the main part of the pub, three bars serviced the fluid and entertainment requirements of Brookvale and surrounding areas’ drunks. Our mob used to drink in the Mariners Tavern, the back bar where most of the bikie scumbags like us drank. Out front was the Surfriders Bar, where the Brookie Boozers (they had their own T-shirts printed up bearing that very name) and all those blokes who drove hot-rod cars drank. The Hitching Rail was the Cowboy-themed public bar where most patrons would be ejected closing time on Friday night while still in their work uniforms.
Last and very much least, was the Scottish Bar, set way out the back of the property, up behind the Mariners Tavern. Only old farts in kilts drank there, and the standard joke of the pub was when anyone celebrated a birthday, they had to go and have a drink in the Scottish Bar with the rest of the royal and ancients.
In fact, the Scottish Bar must’ve been running at a loss for the pub, which was good for us, as the bike parking area was right at the base of the steps that led up to the doors of the Scottish Bar. That’s why we drank at the Mariners Tavern, because, if you kept the doors propped open, we could keep an eye on the bikes while we got drunk. Of course, being a ‘central bar’ design, it was perfect for staggering out to the motorbike, firing it up and doing a quick lap of the bar, getting the bike back to the unofficial bike park and being back to the beer before a red-faced and fuming manager arrived on the scene to ban whoever dared to ride a bike through his bar.
Like I said, Gazza was borderline normal, but he sure was good at firing up the rest of us to go and do something other than stay at the Brookie pub and get shitfaced. It was he who convinced all of us to go to the alleged world premiere of Mad Max the movie at Warriewood Drive-In (I was Alone Pushing a Bone-dry Motorbike); and he could always get us motivated enough to jump on the bikes and roar off to one of the music venue pubs on the Northern Beaches. Mind you, it didn’t take much convincing to go and see INXS, Cold Chisel, Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs, or some other top act at the Manly Vale Hotel.
But, by and large, Gazza was just a normal, mild-mannered sort of bloke. Until one night…
The management had tired of the Scottish Bar and its no patrons. They’d decided renovations were in order and a new nightclub called Didi’s was going to fill the void. We patiently waited and drank in the Mariners Tavern while the building was going on, but too soon it was opening night and our bikes were blocking the now-needed entrance to Didi’s Restaurant and Bar. The manager had come to ask us to move our bikes, as patrons in white dresses were liable to get greasy if they had to brush past. While we hadn’t quite taken the attitude of “No stinkin’ bitch in a white dress is going to brush past MY bike,” we were mightily concerned that no matter where we would be parking the bikes from now on, it simply wouldn’t be satisfactory. No line of sight, no park bike.
It was a Saturday night, it was dark and some of us were wearing sunglasses, but not many patrons were fronting up to the new venue, although it was still early for a nightclub arrival. The five of so gigantic Islander bouncers standing at the top of the steps probably outnumbered the patrons, but the manager was still insistent that we move the bikes. There was only about eight or nine of us there, and we weren’t really sure how to handle this. Gazza did, though. His ruzzle-fruzzle grumbling had gone up a notch on the volume, and he appeared to be getting quite agitated. He strapped his helmet on his bonce and swung a leg furiously over the bike before angrily stabbing the starter button of his first-model GS-750 Suzuki Jap bike.
The crescendo was rising higher and higher, his voice was getting louder because of the revving of his motor. Gazza was effing and blinding and yelling all sorts of unseemly phrases toward the manager, the bouncers and anyone else who was in view. He then stabbed the bike into gear and proceeded to lay rubber right out of the now-official non-bike parking area. The bits we heard sounded suspiciously like “Get a big black dog up yiz,” and “Never drinking here again,” and “Yiz can all go and geffucked, ya kahnzzzz”. With that, he was gone. Now, it wasn’t the best burnout we’d ever seen, but it was the best one Gazza had done. And rest assured, it was the greatest exit he’d ever performed.
As the smoke cleared, a slightly perplexed and mortally offended manager looked around to see what would happen next. The bouncers at the top of steps looked at the manager, then us, then at each other and shrugged.
We looked at the manager, each other, then the bouncers before putting our bikes into gear. There were a few more geffuckeds yelled out, a smattering of “Get a big black dog up ya’s,” and one “Yeah, what he said—we’re never drinking here again!” from me.
And you know what? We never did, not once and not one of us.
Biker Road Tales By Kelly Ashton