Saturday, January 25, 2020

The Female Publican

Australia has a long history of female publicans, that is owners and or licencees of hotels where there will at least be a bar for drinking and meals available. In days of old such hotels normally offered accommodation too.

It was one business where a woman was respected as an owner or licensee, but perhaps not her female staff, although female bar staff usually knew how to look after themselves. My step mother was a barmaid for some of her working life and she knew how to look after herself. Actually, I take that back. Your average bloke pub drinker could go too far when he had taken a good drink, but generally barmaids were respected and if one man went out of line, others would pull him back if he was harassing the barmaid.

My father in his young days drank at the Notting Hill Hotel and here is a great tribute to the woman licensee, Kath Byer.

All history. No female publicans around now....or are there. One hotel we have been going to for years in run by the sister of a former Premier of Victoria. I know her well enough but someone else told me of her brother connection.

Another we have been going to for a number of years took some of my personals observation to work out. Who was this a bit drunk woman berating bar staff behind the bar? Later I saw her sitting in a comfortable hotel chair sipping a Scotch as she read a book.

I've seen her a couple of times since with a glass of beer and reading her book. I guess she lives in an apartment in the upper level of the hotel.

She was in the bar during our last hotel visit. To one of her Indian born employees with her stern face set, she clicked her fingers, as if to say, boy, do this. I then saw her circulating among diners she knew. We are normally there on a Friday or Saturday night, not a Tuesday and I have not seen her circulate among diners before.

But then as we were leaving, I saw her talking to the aforesaid Indian lad who she had earlier clicked her fingers to, laughing and with her hand on his shoulder.

Nowt as queer as folk and what is better than emancipated female publicans who made it in a world of blokes.

24 comments:

  1. This is a fascinating glimpse of a couple female publicans. This post reminds me of the female publicans of the Queen Vic in Eastenders TV land who certainly are tough ladies who rule their pubs.

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    1. Terra, we used to get Eastenders on our free to air tv but not for many years. I remember the characters Des, Dot, Bea? The landlady at the time was dark haired and a fine actor. I can't remember her character name.

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  2. Definitely nowt as queer as folk. I am really glad that you saw the second interaction with the Indian lad. It makes the 'clicking of the fingers' thing slightly more palatable.

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    1. EC, I think she is one of those people who switches quickly between nice and nasty. I guess to be a successful pub owner, you have to be harsh at times.

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  3. Our mother was a barmaid all throughout my brother's and my childhood and teenage years...and a very good one she was, too. She could hold her own, and took no nonsense. A tall, very attractive redhead, she was quick of foot and hand...and quick-witted, too.

    Mum was never without work because of her expertise as a barmaid. We had no father in the picture.

    Mum was the main "bread-winner", and our Nana(who helped raise us - four of us in our little family unit - Nana, Mum, Graham and me)... also worked part-time during our school hours. Primarily, Nana took care of the household chores...

    An interesting bit of trivia that may be of interest to you, Andrew....https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/archived/bushtelegraph/women-in-pubs/5850142

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    1. Thanks Lee. I think I heard that as a podcast.

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  4. I met two female publicans in outback FNQ. They did a great job catering for a bus load of tourists. I was amazed how they managed miles from civilisation.

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    1. Diane, they must have been so well organised and planned well.

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  5. I've known plenty of lovely barmaids, but never a landlady. Maybe they're rarer in the UK or here.

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    1. Cro, maybe. R's ex brother in law's mother was a landlady in Newcastle, so there must have been some.

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  6. I don't go to hotels so I know nothing about bar staff. I just hope they are happy in their work and well paid.

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    1. River, I should think generally on the minimum wage for bar staff, which is not too bad, but the loss of penalty rates must have hit them.

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  7. I remember writing a paper in college, about gender and employment, I joked that prostitution was the only job that required one's sexual parts, and that is only legal in one US state.

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    1. Travel, is that true that prostitution is only legal in one state?

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  8. There may be more female publicans than we know Andrew, I think it's a job easily done by both but I bet the female has to work harder to get the respect!

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    1. Grace, yes, not for the faint hearted kind of woman.

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  9. I don't ever recall a female publican in my time, and I was an habitue of bars, far too much of an habitue. Lovely that they are part of your landscape. Though I have known many female inn owners who had bars on their premises. Does that count?

    XO
    WWW

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    1. WWW. probably does almost does count but really, nothing like a woman running an Australian pub.

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  10. I had to look up the word publicans didn't know what it was. I never met one not in the family not amongst friends, so I can't really comment. But I think that women are better in this job, they have a good ear to listen to men's worries !

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    1. Gattina, that was the job of female barmaids and female publicans, to listen to men's woes.

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  11. I don't think we use the term here in Ontario.
    I do remember a wonderful female publican when we were in Parachilna SA!

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    1. Jackie, yeah, that is the kind of person I am talking about.

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  12. She can treat her staff shitty when she's in one mood and then schmooze with them when she's in another. I don't think I could give her my business.

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    1. Snowy, generally I judge by staff happiness. If the staff are happy, they serve you well, and they do at this pub.

      But there is a constant turnover of staff, so you may be right.

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