Monday, April 14, 2003

Pies, Short-Sold Jobs, and Mayonnaise in the Bisque

Yesterday went for a Sunday drive north of Melbourne. Stopped at Lancefield – population 1,141 – for a late lunch, but there was not a hot pie to be had in the whole town. Of the two open businesses that were possible candidates, the town café, although presenting a homely, unglamorous façade was a clear “no”, once its interior (complete with retro vinyl couch) and hand-chalked menu board were sighted. Food-wise, everything (which did not include any pies) came “with salad”. The place was packed; packed, like most inner Melbourne cafes these days, with baby boomers. We then tried the (and I think it was indeed the) town milk bar a few doors down. Promisingly enough, it had a pie warmer in situ – but it was empty (I knew that the next line in this script was the offer of a microwaved pie, so we left before that depressing offer could be voiced.)

Lancefield – the town of no pies, despite being a major trading hub for thousands of years. A further irony, discovered while walking back to the car, is that the town did, in fact, have a proper bakery until 24 December (I’m not sure of exactly which year, but the paper on which the sign in the former bakery window is hand-written on is white, rather than yellow). So if any aspiring entrepreneurs are reading this, my instincts are that Lancefield both needs, and could support, a bakery.

The old bakery, that closed down, was right between the milk bar and the baby boomer café, so don’t set up there; go for a greenfields site on the north-south road instead (“Main St”, not “High St”). And it’s not just a good business opportunity – think of it as your chance to do a small bit of social engineering, by pulling the rug from under the town’s current fey food fad. The locals will revert back from foccacias (“with salad”) to pies (with or without sauce), faster than you can say “atavistic country-folk” – I promise.


The call centre job (see last Thursday, 10 April) doesn’t look like it is going to happen, after all. Which doesn’t depress me too greatly, as I’ve learnt something new, albeit slight, out of the experience. A job “offer” from a multinational recruitment agency may be a form of short-selling contract. Say “yes”, and the deal suddenly becomes vague – when there’s the sense of an employer’s market for the crappiest-of-crap jobs (as here), then there’s mysteriously but absolutely no hurry; as with short-selling shares in a bear market, labour is best bought at the absolute last minute, to maximise both its cheapness and the middleman arbitrageur’s reward.


Onto an even grubbier topic, although one that doesn’t affect me personally, is PM John Howard’s repast manqué with the Australian Federation of Islamic Council on Saturday (12 April):,5744,6280603%255E2702,00.html

Even without his extra-thick glasses on, Howard would have immediately foreseen the security imperative of such a dinner (which event first broke in the news about two weeks ago). If the venue nominated by the hosts was unacceptable on security grounds, there was plenty of time for an alternative local one to be sourced, sussed and secured. By leaving it till the last minute, Howard has played wedge politics with an already factionalised community – a dangerous game, most surely.

And as for the Howard spokesman’s explanation – that the shift to the Sheraton on the Park hotel was needed due to the attendance of religious leaders such as Catholic Archbishop George Pell and government ministers, I hope and trust that the many gay [I am assuming] waiters and kitchen staff of the five star venue, put some local colour and flavour into the usually-anodyne bisques of the homophobic Pell and the white-bread PM.

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