Once Mo took over the bar he really did try to improve conditions out in our smoking area. He put a roof over part of it with scaffolding and a couple of wall heaters. So the group of regulars grew if anything – for a few years anyway. Oranjeboom was the beer of choice, a very nice lager and on tap for a reasonable price.
I went there most nights, it was a good place to network and play gigs. A lot of the jobs I scored came through meeting people there and we all made some close friends. There were a couple of fights over the years and they were all the more of a shock because it was such a friendly vibe most of the time.
Big Bob and I formed an unlikely friendship. He was a central figure there and could be quite intimidating till you got to know him. Crunch had a job lined up one summer painting his brother’s house in New Plymouth and with his wife Andrea, Bob and I went and spent a few weeks there doing the work. We got on fine it turned out – painting all day and drinking all night.
Craig was another guy I got on pretty well with. He was a martial arts expert and sometimes carried a sword – he got the Spines to play at his 50th birthday up at the club.
Mo was always fine-tuning the smoking area – bring in ferns and plants to make the place less of a carpark. One evening there were a few of us having our usual banter and Craig, as he was leaving, tripped over a new planter he hadn’t seem and smacked his arm on one of the scaffolding poles. I didn’t think much about it until he screamed out in agony that it was dislocated and needed help.
I went over to him and tried to figure out what I could do to help. I think we were all in shock – it didn’t seem to be much of a fall yet there he was holding his arm and in obvious pain. He asked me to grab his wrist and pull his arm out straight. I had no first aid or medical training but he was a martial arts expert and I trusted him judgement so I pulled the arm to straight and held it taught as he asked. Someone called an ambulance.
It was surreal – every time I slackened the tension even slightly he would cry out in excruciating pain and I’d have to pull on the arm and keep it straight. We were both standing at odd angles so Big Bob and Murph eased him down to a seated position while I tried to prop myself on the side of the planter.
I could see something unnatural about the arm under his leather jacket like a bone in his forearm was sticking up and my leg started trembling uncontrollably because of the position I was in. Murph was supporting his back and we stayed like that for forty- five minutes while we waited for the ambulance to arrive. It was a matter of will power and my trust in him that I was doing the right thing – I really had no idea.
When they finally arrived and they took him off to hospital I collapsed on to a bar stool, sober and spent and really worried that I had made a mess of things.