TRIPLE M star Gus Worland has been mates with Hugh Jackman since they went to school together. So he was thrilled to be working on a TV show with the mega star a little over a decade ago. But things took a turn for the worse after the show wrapped, and Jackman offered to pay for a night out. Worland has detailed the messy night in his new book The Bloke-A-Saurus, a collection of jokes and anecdotes, written to raise money to support men’s mental health.
In 2007 I was in Mumbai, India, having just finished shooting a reality television show. The production had been long and arduous, the crew had worked their rings off in, at times, very trying conditions, and we’d all been away from our families and friends in Australia for over three months.
I rang the executive producer, Jacko, who was also an old mate, and told him we’d finished the shoot on time and under budget, and I believed we had the makings of a cracking series. He concurred. Back in Sydney he’d seen all of the footage we’d shot and thought it was a winner.
So, to thank everyone for all the effort they’d put in, I proposed that the executive producer take the crew out for a nosh-up that evening at a nice restaurant. It’d be the perfect way to say goodbye to everyone before we went our separate ways the following day. Including all the Aussie and Indian crew, there’d be about 25 people invited.
Jacko said sure, gave me his credit card details, told us to have fun and asked that I keep the bill under five grand.
‘Five grand!’ I laughed. I couldn’t imagine a situation where we’d spend anything like five grand.
KC, my best mate on the show and our genius ‘fixer’ of everything Indian, organised a lovely restaurant in the centre of town. The food was extraordinary. We ate and drank and chatted and laughed and reminisced and guffawed and drank and ate and drank some more. It was a cracker of a night.
Halfway through the meal I was three sheets to the wind. I remember a moment when I scanned the table and thought there seemed to be more than 25 people present. I tried to take a headcount but my eyes drifted out of focus and I never completed the task.
At a later point I was four sheets to the wind when I overheard a snippet of conversation between two waiters standing behind me. Apparently the restaurant had run out of cold champagne and were now putting warm bottles in the freezer to quickly chill them so they could keep up with demand.
And they weren’t those regular-sized bottles either, but the big ones that Formula One drivers spray on the podium after a win. I surmised that the other restaurant patrons must have been drinking a lot of champers too because our party couldn’t have cleaned them out, surely.
As the evening drew to a close I was five sheets to the wind. When I was presented with the bill it was in rupees so I wasn’t sure what the exact cost was in Aussie dollars but the number started with a 2 and a 5 and then there were four more digits.
I signed to pay then attempted to coax my boozy brain into making the conversion. Secure in the knowledge that the amount was under the five grand cap I happily toddled off to my hotel, singing and laughing with the rest of the crew.
I sat bolt upright in bed the next morning. My head throbbed like, well, a large throbbing thing, and I felt as seedy as I could ever remember. It was a 2 right? The bill started with a 2. Or did it start with a 7? They kind of look similar when you’ve had one too many.
No, it started with a 2. I was sure of it. And then there was a 5? Yes, a 5 followed by four more numbers. I grabbed my phone, dropped it, clumsily swiped open the currency conversion app and punched in six digits, starting with a 2 and a 5 and followed by four 9s.
The conversion was just over $5000. I breathed a sigh of relief. It was okay. Everything was going to be okay.
Then the phone rang. It was, Jacko. I stared at the screen for a long moment. It just kept ringing and ringing. It wouldn’t stop.
I answered with as much ‘hail-fellow-well-met-jolly-hockey-sticks’ enthusiasm as I could muster through the haze of my hangover. In my mind it’s always better to start positive if you think the call may turn dark.
‘Maaate! How are you?’ ‘Fine. You have a good time last night?’ Jacko was his usual chipper self. I was relieved and told him the night had been better than good. It had been great. Then I told him how the crew had thanked him for a wonderful evening.
‘I’m really glad it went well.’ Uh oh. Did I just hear his chipper tone turn dark? ‘So, the bank rang. They wanted to make sure the credit card charge was correct.’
Oh dear. ‘They quoted me the number in rupees.’ A long pause. ‘Did it start with a 2?’ ‘No, mate. No, it did not.’ Oh damn. ‘Did it start with a 7?’ ‘It sure did.’ Oh Jesus.
Another long pause. ‘How much was it in Aussie dollars?’ ‘Fifteen thousand, six hundred and seventy-two dollars and forty-nine cents.’
Aaarrrggghhh. I felt light-headed. The last car I bought hadn’t cost that much. ‘I guess we drank a little more champagne than I thought.’
‘Do you think?’
‘I’ll pay for it*,’ I blurted it out before I knew what I was saying. I had no idea how I was going to afford it but I had to make the offer. This was my screw-up.
‘No,’ Jacko refused, then said we deserved the dinner because he was as proud of the show as anything he’d done before. But he vowed to never give me his credit card details again.
And he never has.
*I did not make this offer.
Bloke-a-saurus by Gus Worland and Steve Worland, published by Simon & Schuster Australia. Paperback, AU$ 32.99.