Johnny Moore: Can't blame red tape

00:23, Jul 24 2014

The scary moments come when we finish building our new restaurant and invite people in. Details obsessed over late at night go unnoticed by Jo Public and the place takes on its own identity.

Kitting out a building has been a steep climb up Knowledge Mountain but it's been rewarding, even if it has taken six bloody months. Now you'd expect me to say the delay was due to useless bureaucracy or all the red tape clogging the city's arteries, but the reality is that it's taken a long time because we have persevered with an outdated building model.

The council and recovery authority have been nothing but helpful. I went to the council when I was looking at the site and a damn-fine bloke named Sean helped me out the whole way.

Cera was a pleasure. For God's sake, Roger Sutton even came in on his bicycle one afternoon to check if there was anything he could help with. That's service.

The real reason it's taken so long is because our main building crew has consisted of a marketing dork, a dodgy-brother-in-law and a retired building guru. Hardly a formidable team. But we've found that all sorts of creative things can happen if you add enough hilarity and dick jokes to the equation.

It's turned out well, mainly thanks to the dodgy-brother-in-law's sublime fabricating skills and the building guru's wealth of knowledge.


The building guru constructed all sorts of magnificent things over his career in towns and countries much more exotic than Christchurch, New Zealand. But Taylor's Mistake was always his home, calling him back.

"We used to do the lot Johnny. We'd do the foundations, build the floor, walls and roof; put the cladding on and the windows in. Do the gibbing, plastering, painting.

"The whole lot. Not to mention we'd mill a heap of the timber on site. And we could build a house faster than they can in today's world where you've got a different subbie for every job you can imagine."

With two skilled guys on site, I've gone from being the boss at a bar to the bottom of the ladder. It's been an exercise in humility. It's taken me right back to high school and the bullying culture of Christchurch boys' schools.

The other two have revelled in having a minion. They call me "s..eater" and make me clean their boots at the end of each week.

"Count yourself lucky we're not making you use your tongue," they say, drinking beer as I buff concrete dust from their steelcaps.

At the outset I was allowed only menial tasks like site cleaning and making sure batteries were charged.

In six months I have thankfully proved I've got exactly a quarter of a useful brain and in the closing months the building guru has taught me some tricks.

I've been telling the guru that when he teaches me his last trick I'm going to have him dig a hole up the back of the site - about the size of him - then I'll concrete him into the foundations. He's got enough tools that I should be able to start my new career quite easily.

Brick farm will be open any moment and I've got a cripplingly slow building crew looking for work.

There's a rumour that they're so desperate for the next job that they'll work for beer.

The Press