I was in Kensington, but I was thinking about Whyalla.
This rarely happens. I dropped Claire at an interpreting job just up from the Britannia Roundabout and had time on my hands, which can be dangerous at 4pm on a Friday, especially with the distinct lack of adult supervision.
Whyalla is home to one of the world’s great bespoke businesses, and I speak, of course, about the Bottle and Bird. It’s a drive-through liquor outlet located at the Westlands Hotel (by law it must be called the Wastelands) and this is tremendous for those in need, but the real dynamite here is that it comes with a take away food option too. I’ve never been through it but imagine the ordering goes like this-
Howdy mate. Yeah, well, I’ll have a six pack of Southwark cans. Nah, been a big week, you better make than Bundy and coke. And I’ll have a half chook ‘n’ minimum chips. No, not half a minimum chips, I’m pretty hungry, a full minimum chips. Quinoa salad? Don’t think so.
The Bottle and Bird speaks of the Australian need for laziness and not getting out of your car unless it’s on fire, or sinking. It’s surely one of our state’s premier tourist attractions. Does it have its own t-shirt range? Its own stubby holders? Its own souvenir tea-towels?
So on Friday I wandered down to the Britannia Hotel on the Britannia Roundabout to catch the last of the Port Lincoln races. Earlier my sister Jill and brother-in-law Bazz had a horse running which came a place, but a nag named Bottle and Bird was in the last. I jumped on. A mare, she’s based in Ceduna and is only five, but has already been in nearly forty races. They work them hard on the West Coast.
Having made my investment I grabbed a chair. The front bar was sparsely populated, but richly scented. I had no goatee. There were a few minutes until they jumped with hopefully Bottle and Bird screaming to a rare win. I grabbed the paper from a bench. Flicking through I realised the paper was over a week old.
The gate sprung open and they were away in Port Lincoln at the Ravendale racecourse! Bottle and Bird settled well, just behind the leaders. Her jockey put her to sleep down the back and she kept her position. Unsure what to call the horse I alternated in my mind between, “Go Bottle!” and “Come, on, Bird!”
In the Britannia front bar something malodorous slapped my nostrils. I glanced around. No-one seemed to care about me or Bottle and Bird and our new, likely temporary relationship. My eyes shot back to the wide screen. She arched her back and lengthened her stride and I’d like to say it was just like Black Caviar in the TJ Smith Stakes at Randwick in front of about 30,000 punters, but it wasn’t.
The favourite pulled away and won by a bit over a length.
But Bottle and Bird had run second. I’d doubled my cash.
If I was knocking off work in Whyalla I’d steer my ute to the Bottle and Bird and with my winnings, shout myself a schnitzel pack and a long neck of Coopers Sparkling Ale.