Story by Ross Blainey
I can squeeze in about 15 small steps around my living room when I pick up the phone and hit the dial button. Five more if I’m feeling adventurous and include the kitchen. I’m one of those people that needs to walk and talk. I’m still pacing when the phone is answered on the other end by one of the many bartenders I’ve been calling around the country. Kicking off with the normal chat currently feels a bit redundant: “How’s things mate?” We know the answer. Things are pretty rough, everything is not ok. I’ve lost count how many times I’ve quoted Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting: “It’s a shite state of affairs!”
It really is.
There is a scary virus wreaking havoc across the world, everyone is scared, anxious and stressed. We can’t keep up with the rules changing, and health services around the world are struggling. Our bars are closed, our restaurants are closed, our hospitality family across the country are jobless and we don’t know what this means for the future of any of it. We’re stuck in our houses, we’re away from the people we care about and no-one can tell us when it is going to end. In an industry that has social interaction at its heart we’re deprived of it. And on top of that there are no hugs allowed and standing on my kitchen table belting out Sabotage is not the same as doing it on the bar top at Hats & Tatts.
OK, I think that was needed. It might seem like a depressing way to kick this off but vulnerability can be really helpful. I know for me when this all started getting serious I had a few weeks where I was overly anxious, stressed and felt totally useless. I lost all creativity and couldn’t really think properly because I couldn’t get my head around what was happening. So much changed so fast that I couldn’t really work out what I was supposed to do. It wasn’t until I said how I felt out loud on a couple of calls with our William Grant & Sons BA family that it sunk in and I made sense of it. I was worried about so many things that I wasn’t in control of and it stopped me from working on the things I could help with. I got perspective from those phone calls and being asked “How’s things?” We’re taught not to show vulnerability but being real and vulnerable gives you strength to keep moving on to new possibilities. And I can guarantee you’re not the only one who is feeling it.
Our family motto at William Grant and Sons is Stand Fast. It means that we stand strong and we stand together through tough times, adversity and hardship.We are so grateful in our team to have our jobs through this crazy time but each one of us knows that with this privilege comes the responsibility of doing everything we possibly can to help our extended family across hospitality in Australia. Our family motto at William Grant and Sons is Stand Fast. It means that we stand strong and we stand together through tough times, adversity and hardship. That means standing together and standing by you, bartenders across the country. We have launched a global initiative across William Grant and Sons, #StandFast, with the sole purpose of helping bartenders right now and working on solutions for the future. As I write this we have just launched stage one of our local immediate help, Family Dinners which our team have been working on tirelessly for the last month. Partnering with fresh food delivery companies across the country we are kicking off by having enough fresh, healthy food to cook at home for 8,000 meals. Each recipient will get enough for two weeks of dinners and we hope that takes some stress away while keeping healthy food on the table. We know this doesn’t solve all the problems facing us but it is a part we can help in. We hope if you can eat healthy and have one less worry for a while we can work on the rest together.
Keeping things in perspective and leaning on each other helped us build this program. Luke Sanderson (Glenfiddich) got the ball rolling with an idea straight off the bat and got the team energised. Mikey Lowe (Monkey Shoulder) has this incredible ability to see structure to organise, this was so valuable in building Family Dinners. James Buntin (Prestige Ambassador) is one of the most supportive people in the industry and inspires us to help others. Lucille Rose (Sailor Jerry) started officially with us two weeks before all this and has fitted perfectly into the role and family with a passion for supporting bartenders while James Macrae (Ailsa Bay) has supported throughout by getting things done with so much positivity. Family is important to us and we make sure to support each other even just in a quick chat here and there. Lean on your family, keep those connections strong.
We may all be separated physically at the moment but if we Stand Fast together (and we’ve brought some of you together on the cover of this issue) we will come out the other end. We can connect through our vulnerability, help each other keep things in perspective, help in the areas we can help and try not to worry about the things out of our control. Phone the people you usually phone and phone the ones you don’t. Ask that previously redundant question and see if you can help them feel better about things. Make a call to Melbourne, Perth, New York, London, Edinburgh and make someone smile — it’ll come back around.
When our future is uncertain it means there are positive possibilities around the corner. Even if they are hard to see. Maybe one of those possibilities is that we all make stronger connections with more of our family around the world. We realise the importance of supporting others, but also learning to take some support. We’ll get through this together. Stand Fast.
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