Casino Lights / Spin The Wheel
My father liked to gamble … just a little. I have memories as a lad of waiting in the car outside the Gosnells TAB with my brother for what seemed like an eternity, with just the car’s AM radio for entertainment. We were often on our way to and from the football with Dad on a Saturday afternoon. My folks also had a couple of race horses in earlier times when we were even younger. KRAKUS had won a country race and the finishing post photograph was pride of place on the centre of the mantelpiece for a time.
Dad liked a flutter, possibly a little too much … well a lot too much if I were to be honest.
My parents worked extremely hard, non-stop in fact and they had a pretty sedentary social life from memory. When the Casino opened in that swampland on the outskirts of the city, it was if spring had sprung, there seemed to be a clarion call at all hours of the day and night and my folks seemed to be drawn to those glistening casino lights. My mother knew when to leave though, when to walk away, but not my Pa.
I’d been living in Sydney for a time playing with Chad’s Tree but decided to embark on more singing and less guitar noodling so I moved back to Perth. The Blackeyed Susans had begun and I’d enrolled at University but I needed a part-time job so I applied for a job as a croupier / blackjack dealer as the allure of the green felt had gotten to me too. I worked night shifts mainly, which could end around 4am, consequently I’d nod off during my lectures (sleep deprivation, maybe that’s why I never understood semiotics). Still dealing cards was thoroughly engaging, they paid well and I honestly enjoyed it. I saw some pretty outrageous behaviour from the punters – mainly to do with vomit – and frequently the same faces would bookend the start and end of my shift.
I was naïve. I never viewed gambling as a social scourge or an addiction, but more as light entertainment for those chasing that elusive rush and the golden dollar.
“Don’t split 5s, always double against a 6, stay sober, leave when you’re in front , if you’ve lost your first wad of cash just call it quits” … these fundamentals formulated ran through my head as I dealt out cards to the unsuspecting.
I recall being invited to a poker night held by some of the more experienced staff; a boozy long night where I didn’t win a single hand. I was fleeced and lucky to leave with the shirt on my back, totally smashed. Lesson learnt, no more gambling for moi.
I lasted at the casino near on two years before heading off to Europe and the U.S.A. to spend my hard earned savings, see the world and do a little recording. I never went back to that Swan River oasis.
Years later my father and brother sat either end of the family table studying their own form guides and tuned into the racing station. For me the thrill had gone. I have this philosophy that gambling is actually about losing and dealing with the consequences but I know and I’ve seen when you’re on a roll it’s very, very difficult to resist the pull.