Glen Campbell gave us ‘Rhinestone Cowboy’ and failed contestants of the ancient quiz show Sale of the Century were gifted a diamond encrusted stick pin by host Glenn Ridge. So what jewel does Glengowrie offer us?
Why, of course, the muscular boozer that is the Morphett Arms.
It was an act of bravery but also necessity. The pub is large, aggressively functional and a shrine for disciples of the Friday Meat Tray. None of these generally hold much appeal for Claire, but it’s seven minutes from home, and it would be a snobbish oversight to not swing by at least once as curious locals. Mystery Pub, as you well know, is underpinned by egalitarian principals and a dedication to exploration, geopolitics and post-modern art.
It’s not just a shameless monthly excuse to get on the gargle for an escapist hour.
The courtyard is a fine place to nurse, or if required, attack an end of week refreshment. The sole maple tree offers shade, beauty and a certain conspiratorial atmosphere, enhanced by us having the space almost entirely to ourselves.
There’s a decent range of tap beer but my Coopers XPA lacks punch. I suspect I’m the first to have one for the afternoon and so the keg’s still asleep. On occasion, being a beer pioneer comes at significant personal cost and if I weren’t of a buoyant mood this might have represented an existential crisis. Fatigued ale claims many a hapless victim. Don’t be next.
Claire’s white wine is white and winey in her etched and apparently complimentary glass.
We debrief our week and anticipate the next which with the Fringe now underway includes many Auslan interpreting gigs for Claire at the Holden Street Theatre and in town for various comedians such as Lloyd Langford, our funniest Welsh import. He could read from a phone book (explain this to the kids) and it’d be amusing.
I discuss going to Kapunda for work in a few days’ time and how this’ll be a euphoric treat despite the continuing sadness of the 2022 fire in Eringa. I love going home.
We sit happily at our elevated table and a few groups of post-work folk now drift in. Behind me on the large screen the cricket’s on in Delhi and local boy Travis Head comes and goes without me noticing. I’m probably more disappointed that the next Test has been moved from Dharamsala. It’s the most spectacular setting for a cricket ground with the snowy Himalayas looming just beyond the grandstands.
Our barkeep has a name badge with Rourke on it so when I return for round two of cuppage that’s what I call him. ‘Can I have a Pirate Life thanks, Rourke?’ His badge must be vaguely accurate as he replies, ‘Sure.’ My wife opts for a gin which is fair enough in mid-February. We have a funny conversation about Rourke, and the often-surprising helpfulness of a clearly visible nametag.
On our way to the motor, we duck into the front bar and the meat tray raffle’s away. Despite his microphone and a decent PA system, the spruiker’s a shouty chap and he barks, ‘That’s it for the pink tickets.’ I note a rise in the pub hub-bub, probably that of the singular discontent generated by the sudden pang of knowing you’re not going home with a pack of neck chops, chicken snags and lumpen rissoles.
Still, all blue ticketholders are alive and well. They might be in carnivorous luck yet.
Claire and I had also been in luck having just spent a lovely hour chatting beneath an unexpected maple tree. The tree is spectacular and although trees are not unknown in beer gardens, its green canopy made our occasion snug, and invested the visit with gratitude for our good fortune and mostly easy city and Glengowrie. At all of this I felt a tiny whiff of wonder.
This, my friends, is what Mystery Pub is really about.