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Kapunda captures King’s Head cup-house

pub photo

It’s fair to suggest that nostalgia can often interfere with the truth. This might be why I convinced myself that our destination had a certain mystique, a mythology all of its own that would reveal itself through a grand, weaving story.

Christmas a couple years’ back Chrisso texted from near New Orleans that he’d tell me the reason for this venue when he returned.

I could hardly wait, and some months later when we caught up I asked, in a rather formal, yet compact sentence, “So, why is the Kapunda boys biannual reunion held at the King’s Head pub on King William Street?”

I was looking forward to his complex and engaging narrative.

“Because it’s on the tram line.”

“That’s it?”

“Yep.”

Oh.

*

Last Friday on yet another unseasonably warm evening not quite twenty of us descended upon this ripping old-school boozer to share tales and to laugh and to stir and, above all, to connect.

boys 3

We gathered in the cosy front bar at a large wooden table. It seemed that there were travel yarns to tell. Where you been, somebody asked.

Crackshot replied, “An eight-week odyssey through Western Australia.” Anecdotes followed.

Chris offered, “I had a week at various resorts in Fiji.” Crisp yarns were shared.

“And what of you Mickey?” somebody, possibly Puggy, asked.

“Mannum.”

Oh.

*

We prefer the King’s Head as it’s fiercely South Australian. Some would say, the KG of the pub scene. There’s only local drinks and food available. Not a Carlton Draught or Moreton Bay Bug in sight. It’s a point of difference.

As is the complete absence of TAB, and wide screens with footy, racing and darts glaring out across the punters. It’s a refreshing change and means you must immerse yourself in the company and conversation.

It could be described as a place where you can enjoy a pub holiday.

We do.

There’s a sparkling galaxy of beers on tap including brash youngsters Pirate Life, Mismatch and equine Hills star, Prancing Pony. A volley of correspondence earlier in the week created a bubbling anticipation for Kapunda chap, Chris Higgins’ Greenock Brewers Victorville Ale. An app confirms this.

But we’re a week too early. The Greenock beer is not on. It’s a disappointment but doesn’t seem to decelerate our eagerness.

Around seven a grinning group of old muckers rolls through the doors like oranges. Whitey, Woodsy, O’s and Dames present themselves. Our ensemble is complete with beers and handshakes and schnitzel and warmth and reminisces; some keenly remembered and some forgotten.

boys4

So, there’s Lukey, Puggy, Crackshot, Matey, Rus, Bongo, Schultzy, Bobby, Nick, Whitey, Woodsy, O’s, Dames, Fats, Swanny, Chrisso, and Mickey.

Happily, just about everyone has a nickname. It’d be a shame for somebody to miss out.

Shortly after Nick tells us one of his favourite stories. By then, we’ve already dealt with the famous night at the West Torrens Cricket Club in 1986. Former Torrens opening bowler Rocket is an apology tonight given he’s in New Zealand, bro.

Nick continues, “Years ago at a U2 concert, Bono started clapping, slowly and deliberately.” He clapped too, to emphasise his point. Nick likes a story.

“Bono said, ‘Every time I clap, an African child dies.’”

“Somebody in the crowd then yelled out, ‘Well, stop fcuking clapping then.’”

*

Without being previously aware we’d also lobbed into the King’s Head on the night when a DJ was playing 1980’s electro/ synthesiser/ new wave music.

boys 1

Normally this would make me change the radio station quicker than an Ali jab, and reach for the sick bag but the combination of Coopers and friendship and ridiculous memories makes it fun. I recall

Blancmange’s “Living on the Ceiling”
Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me?”
Flock of Seagull’s “I Ran”
Pete Shelley’s “Homosapien”
Visage’s “Fade to Gray” and the gold medallist
Soft Cell’s “Tainted Love.”

Maybe that we were all at school for some part of the eighties invests this music with involuntary affection for our shared past.

Or maybe it’s the beer.

*

It’s another terrific evening and a great chance to connect and strengthen our community. It’s also a tradition. I do like a tradition.

However, when Nick and Fats and I wander out of the neighbouring La Trattoria, post-pizza and red wine, the trams had stopped for the night. Ubers were urgently beckoned.

Time for nighty-night.

Maybe I’ll jump on a tram after our Christmas cups, at the King’s Head.

pub photo 2

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Pub Review: Five Cups in Fremantle

Indian

To visit Fremantle is to understand that this earth is essentially good and bright and joyous. I’ve had a remarkable afternoon.

I guess it’s an emblem of country-boy faith that not for the first time, hotel concierge staff consider it appropriate to swear at me, in cheerful, inoffensive and welcoming ways. Perhaps I’ve an inviting face, for when I ask about public transport, the smiley front-desk person said, “Don’t use a travel card, for they’re shit.” Oh.

I spoke. “Where’s the city station?”

The well-groomed, nicely-vowelled girl then replied, ” Oh, you’ll know it’s Perth station because there’ll be people pissing out of it.”

I blinked. “Thanks.”

On this Sunday the sun splashed on my face all afternoon. It had the redemptive power of Mykonos or Napoli. I asked some locals if it was extraordinary and most nodded in a dismissive way. I imagine this is typical in Fremantle.

On the train down I glance up at the network and note the Mandurah line stops at Murdoch and then Bull Creek. I suspect, given the deplorable mass media of this country that this is ironic. The sun is wholly magical, for a July day. So, I went to five pubs.

Surprising, I know.

pub

 

National Hotel – it’s bustling, and a fierce footy locale when I stroll in to Sandy Roberts chirping about North and the Gold Coast Suns, who I am told, are an AFL team. I ask for a Panhead Extra Pale Ale from NZ. It’s satisfactory, and I’ve got down here on a train trip for only $4.80. As I walk up to the balcony bar there’s a 2013 Grand Final Freo jumper and rock concert posters such as Hendrix, Woodstock, and of course, the iconic, groundbreaking Leo Sayer. The red brick, the exposed brick is lovely. As the Roos v Suns progress a Harley eases past the open doors. I talk with an old mate, who’s a Dockers bloke. He’s unmoved by the deplorable state of Tassie footy. Exiting, I see Monday’s industry night with an Old Skool arcade machine that I trust is Frogger.

Sail and Anchor– I remember our old friend Shelly urging us to look up! Look Up! And there’s a beautiful pressed tin ceiling. The air is high and effervescent, with a blue light. I order a Nail Brewing Pilsner but it’s circumspect; stand-offish; spikally brash beyond what a modest chap might ask of a pilsner. If a pilsner won’t behave, then where do we actually stand, in 2018? For the most isolated city on our tiny planet, there’s people everywhere, all in rude health; their kids behaving; nostalgic music a comfy bed as all attack the schnitzel and chip with a rare gusto. I then remember that it’s mid-winter but observe every second bugger is slopping about in thongs. Gee, I love this place.

Ball and Chains- Immediately, I mistrust this boozer. There’s an artifice and confection that’s worrying. I nervously order a Minimum Chips lager, and then order, as an incestuous accompaniment, a minimum chips. There’s a pensive mood about it all. I gulp my beer, so I can leave. However, the sunlight here is ridiculous. Big blokes wolf Emu Export. I avoid eye contact. I sit at a big timber outdoor table on the impossibly fetching esplanade. A Morton Bay Fig is among the Norfolk Island Pines. I’m drenched in sun, and instantly drunk on light. But, I scarper.

rope chandelier

Bathers Beach is right on the beach and beyond ridiculous. I’m with a Cheeky Monkey Pale Ale, on a sun lounger right on the sand, by a post with the waves crashing and the sun washing over me in a deeply medicinal way. A gull yarps while flapping above my head. By me are two English girls who surely can’t comprehend their enormous luck. It doesn’t matter, but the beer is pure muck; a modern nonsense that is profoundly difficult to love, even by a leviathan such as Sir Les or Thommo. I’ve rarely spent a better fifteen minutes, in the heart of winter, anywhere, including Luton, despite the toxic lager.

Sail

Little Creatures Brewing: Interrogating the bar-keep as the hugely wonderous sun rolls in, I ask about the Session Ale. I repair to the balcony and watch the boats wade in. The beer is affectionate, but lacks the warmth of the Coopers equivalent. A seagull drifts across my vision. The water looks warm enough that I could swim. How could this be? Perth is more Mediterranean than Mykonos or Capri.

I’ve had an afternoon of astonishment and glee. It’s been a Beatles album; a Hyde Park concert; an opening wicket from your first-born on a crisp morning as the sun stretches across your face.

How can I not have been to Fremantle until now?

Creatures

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Fruity Ale and a Fire Bucket

fire drum

Aside from irregularly charging into the charcoal chook shop on a tricky Tuesday and escaping with some cooked poultry and fried spud there’s limited chances in my cosy sphere to pretend I’m a hunter and gatherer.

But since we’ve now a fire bucket on the back patio I find myself sourcing wood throughout the wintry months, and last week in my pre-pub enthusiasm I zipped across the suburbs to a garden vendor and loaded my car with red-gum. My purchasing challenge had been made clear by the wife: don’t get stumps that are too big and don’t get stumps that are too small.

As a timber-collecting Goldilocks I surveyed the wood heap. With the drizzle tending to rain and the mud sloshing about my boots I pecked about the crumbling Cheops of logs like a fussy rooster. What I lacked in scientific application I compensated with crude, Cub Scout judgment and soon had a wagon-full of iron-hued stumps.

Easing the motor onto the weighbridge I felt an inner glow borne of a successful excursion that guaranteed I’d enjoy my subway sandwich at a proximate shopping centre. But this can be complex for I often find that a six-inch sub isn’t enough, and that twelve can be too much. Let’s all petition Doctor’s Associates Inc for a nine-inch sub!

*

Saturday saw the house lashed by angry squalls and clattering rain but the mid-afternoon fire kept us warm. Starting the blaze is acutely ceremonial and Alex was enthusiastically insistent and Max, a spirited jumper and involuntary clapper, while their Mum lit the first match to get us underway.

Gradually, there were family and friends and burgundy wine and cheese and chat and nostalgic music, and these generated a fetching glow in which I happily swam.

With a national conference looming it was an ideal gathering at which to road-test my new ice-breaker. Having workshopped it extensively with my old comrade and new-ish colleague JB, out it came, for in some ways it’s the ultimate question, and taps neatly into the endless Zeitgeist.

On “Islands in the Stream” who gives the best performance: Kenny or Dolly?

With stunning clarity, the results were revealed as a little lop-sided, perhaps in a similar fashion to that which saw Anne Shirley “Willsy” Wills (OAM) collect 19 Most Popular State (South Australia) Personality Logies. After scrutineering the votes were

Dolly- 9
Kenny- 1.

Still, as the late wrestling icon Rowdy Roddy Piper used to say, it’s about the process.

RRP

*

The fire danced and crackled and my playlist changed mid-seventies gears from the Bee Gees to Dr Hook so we added heavy chunks of red-gum and then night descended. Inside our boys and the other kids tore about and transacted in robust and efficient ways as their games began, unfolded and then collapsed, as all games must.

Meanwhile across the city, country and globe all manner of professional games were being played, and remarkably every single team in which I’ve varying degrees of investment engineered a loss. Here’s a roll-call of anguish: the Glenelg Football club, the Adelaide Football club, the Socceroos, the Wallabies, and at The Oval in London, where many years ago, we’d personally witnessed a grim result, the Australian cricket side. I should’ve bagged them all up into a hideous multi and had myself an unpatriotic if tidy earn.

But none of these irritants mattered on my birthday for there I was by a mesmerising fire with fruity ale, if not fruity conversation. Later, the dogs, Buddy and Angel, flopped on their beds and the last of the storm fronts rushed furiously by. Happily, there’d still be cheese for late Sunday afternoon.

With a sturdy click the back door was locked, and at least in my mind, I could hear the projected voice of a 1960’s publican bark across his dark bar, “Time, please.”

I was soon asleep.

willsy

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Dolly v Kenny

kenny

On “Islands in the Stream” who provides the superior performance: Dolly or Kenny? Asking for a friend.

ShaunDolly in a close one.

Rebecca: Dolly totally – she set out to get him with a fine tooth comb. That is commitment!

Rebecca: Actually maybe that’s stalking!

Cath: Team Kenny!

Ali: Dolly!

Nicole: Not even a question…Dolly.

Sarah: It’s a duet?! Team Dolly.

MickeyI’ve just got off the phone with Kenny who’s pretty disappointed. Next year’s Adelaide concert is now cancelled!

Lois: Dolly, by a mile.

Mickey: And he wants back his fine tooth comb.

GregI feel obliged to dip my toe into this water. Kenny is without doubt the seemingly underrated star of this vocal conglomeration. He starts it. He finishes it. He loans it out in the middle a bit, but essentially, he owns the heck out of it. I know for a fact that Ernest Hemingway himself owns a ‘rough cut’ version of the track with none of Dolly’s parts…arguably the way it should be. I’m no chauvinist, but Dolly should be thankful she was brought along for the ride on this one.

k d

Nicole: Greg I thought you & I were heading towards a meaningful relationship based on our shared Sylvia experience…I have serious doubts now…just the mere mention of the song evokes the sound of Dolly singing her part…the words, the emotion…I recall nothing of Kenny’s part!

Greg: Kenny mentions islands and streams several times by my recollection. That is what he was*. I can’t vouch for Dolly, but he ‘had something goin’ on’.

MaurieI have a mate that goes fishing every year in March on the Murray. They all use small boats called tinnies with small outboards. Why do I mention this? The islands in the river are few, but I guess that does qualify for islands in the stream. The guys have special T- shirts each year and have a biggest fish prize. I guess my end comment would be they call the trip Tinnies In The Steam.

tinnies

Brett: Greg wrote “Dolly’s parts”.

Greg: Let it never be said that they were not significant parts, but could not quite cast a shadow over Kenny. And now that I think of it, with two Adam’s apples like that you’d think she’d have had a deeper voice wouldn’t you?

Peter: Neither have covered themselves in glory in my humble opinion. A passionless performance from both.

Rick: Greg, afraid you’re a little out in your assessment. By the time this duet was released Kenny was the biggest country star going around. Johnny had lost his touch. Merle and George were struggling. Charlie wasn’t recording. Kenny was riding high. His bland inoffensive MOR sold millions. Dolly was hanging in there (barely) based on her reputation and a couple of films. They record this Bee Gees tripe (Kenny recorded a number of Gibb songs; Johnny at the same time recorded Springsteen and Elvis Costello with no success). At the time Kenny was king of country, Dolly hardly allowed into the court. They toured Australia around this time or a bit after. In concert there was no contest. Kenny was good. But he was in his Las Vegas lounge period. He didnt even sing all of Coward of the County! That’s right. We didn’t get to hear, “and you could’ve heard a pin drop when Tommy stopped and closed the door”! Criminal mistake. Great voice, stage pressence but a lot of so what songs. Dolly was magnificent. Pure performer. A stand up comic, charmer, brilliant string instrument musician and that voice. Left Kenny and most others (including Porter) in her wake. She wins hands down. No contest. That is all. Cheers!

GregMy rebuttal is twofold: 1- Kenny had a better beard. 2. It would seem you’re basing all of your statements on facts and/or personal experience, and those factors have no place in any argument I enjoy being a party to.

Rick: And I’m still bitter about Coward! Cheers.

Mickey: Are you aware that Kenny is the name behind Asia’s favourite country music themed, family-friendly, roast chicken restaurant chain and that our five times married Texan baritone personally guarantees the quality of your meal? What has Dolly ever done for the global roast chicken industry? Just sayin’.

KRR

SarahC’mon, fair go. She may not be an Asian food chain but she’s doing her best. Her 6 reviews place her at 4.5 stars.

MickeyIn April 2008 South Bend, Indiana, radio station WZOW played the song continuously for several days on end, a stunt drawing attention to the station’s format change from alternative rock to adult contemporary.

Marc: Dolly by a mile.

Dolly

 

 

2

Round 7- Adelaide v Carlton: Come, Come Mr Bond

radio.png

 

We have radio wars in our car when the boys, wife and I travel together, and I’m annihilated, acoustically.

Despite my best attempts to provide a robust musical education, as the Subaru backs out of the garage, voices from the back seat holler, “Mum, can you put it on NOVA?”

Or, “Change it over to MIX.”

To which I respond, “What do you say?”

From behind me a reluctant, “Please” then chirps across.

MIX self-describes as, “Adelaide’s widest variety of music” but if there’s any truth in radio station slogans it’d be, “Adelaide’s widest variety of Pink.”

Saturday night viewing is providing similar conflict, at least for me. The footy is winning the battle, but only just as 9 GEM is showing all the Bond films, having started a month ago with Dr No which, given our youngest’s current oppositional defiance, is a domestic theme.

However in a rare nocturnal excursion, for the first time this season, I found myself on the bottom deck of the Chappell Stand, taking in the Crows and Blues. To alleviate any clash concerns The Blues are wearing their John Howard-inspired gray guernseys. Really? You’d find greater similarity in the vocal stylings of Taylor Swift and Taylor Walker.

gray

It’s a glorious autumnal evening by the mighty River Torrens – warm, still and clear. Both sides are missing many of their big names and given how many have moved between these clubs, out on the turf it must be like the first hour of a school reunion, you know, before the Brandivino works its liquid magic.

Carlton find space early and vital big rooster Kreuzer snaps to give the Blues their first, and only lead for the encounter. Adelaide then settles and slots the subsequent six with alliterative forwards Josh Jenkins and Mitch McGovern each scoring an appropriate two goals.

On TVs across the ‘burbs Thunderball is also away and SPECTRE has stolen some NATO bombs, and is threatening to destroy a US or UK city, later revealed as Miami which seems a little unambitious, given they’re working in the Bahamas. Why not be lofty in your aims and lob one at Luton, although, to be fair, it’d be difficult to tell.

In his first match against his former mob B. Gibbs (Bryce, not Barry) has continued his silky form and is accumulating possessions across the ground like MI6’s finest collects casino chips. During the break I get out my Texas Instruments calculator and start punching in cricket scores to see how far up the table the Crows will be by midnight. This arrogance guarantees the Blues (Grays) fightback is on.

boat.jpg

Skill execution errors, even from diminutive half-back assassin Rory Laird means the visitors enjoy a dominant quarter with some clever work from Levi Casboult whose hulking presence could be handy in Thunderball as things get desperate in the Aston Martin. The game is poised at the half and I get approval from our bank to undertake some Goldfinger action of my own: I buy a beer and some hot chips.

Any lingering tension quickly evaporates into the May sky as Adelaide registers a pair of majors in the opening minutes. Eddie Betts is involved, but his form and his season are simmering, not Bond-movie-speedboat-explosions, just yet. Footy itself has been strangely subdued thus far in 2018.

spectre.png

Mitch McGovern doesn’t so much mark the Sherrin as pluck it from atop the pack in a way that startles everyone. He elevates himself onto Liam Jones’ shoulders and completes the catch as if Q had lent him the famous jetpack. It provides some frisson on a night when the narrative arc is as predictable as a commercial radio playlist (Up next we’ve got some Captain Beefheart).

Cam Ellis-Yolmen continues his steady progress and is stringing together games in his much-interrupted career which began way back in 2011, when you could sneak your track-suited self into a Blockbuster and borrow Kung Fu Panda 2 for a fiver.

I admit it’s been a minor treat to see Carlton’s Cripps and Curnow in action. They’ll drive the Blues bus for the next decade, or half a dozen coaches, whichever comes first. Their win/ draw/ loss tally now reads:

007.

Despite another obligatory hamstring injury Adelaide moves confidently to the next instalment of the Showdown franchise next Saturday in the twilight.

There should be no televisual conflict with Casino Royale beginning just on the final siren. I best iron my new tracky-daks.

jetpack

 

 

 

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Round 3 – Adelaide v St Kilda: The Noel’s Caravans/ Jock Cheese Cup

BREAKING-

Malcolm Blight to replace Neil Kerley as face of Noel’s Caravans

Green Fields, Adelaide, April 2018

In a jolt to the chummy SANFL-football-icons-turned-caravan-promoters-community Neil Kerley has quit his post as a spokesperson for the quality but affordable leisure vehicles that are available at Noel’s.

With the reggae-kitsch and ear-wormish jingle playing over the lot’s PA system Kerls barked “I’m cooked,” to the mob gathered among the Millards. The gnarled legend then elaborated, “From now on you’ll only catch me by the yabby-rich yet cotton-theft-ravaged waters of Walker Flat. Flogging caravans is a young man’s game.”

noels

Heir presumptive Malcolm Blight then took an Island Star twenty-one-footer for a spin about Noel’s substantial block, and upon returning frowned at the narrow corridor into which he had to back the van. He was heard to mutter, “I can’t get this in here,” and despite The Messiah and his towed entourage being eighty metres away, another, likely interior voice breathed, “Yes, I can. I’m Malcolm Blight!”

Onlookers attest that the ex-Woodville Woodpeckers star then neatly reversed the caravan to a parking space by the front office, just like a wizened Jim’s Mowing franchisee.

After decades away from Adelaide, we welcome him home and await his work with Noel’s. And Malcolm, watch those bunkers on the 18th at Glenelg, an emu couldn’t escape them.

*

Like the charismatic connection between Adelaide oval’s hot chips and the ever-newsworthy chicken salt, or early period Miles Davis and the popularisation of modal jazz’s harmonic rhythms, I can’t think of St Kilda without seeing Melbourne band TISM and their music video, “Greg! The Stop Sign!!”

Who can forget the footage of Saints (and Kimba) chap Shane Wakelin, alongside Justin Peckett and those anonymous others, pedaling their gym bikes? That this is accompanied by Beach Boys-styled vocals augments the sumptuousness, and as modern TAC satire’s most illustrious shot the camera then pans past various motivational signages festooned on the walls, including my eternal favourite: “Your (sic) a professional. Keep it simple.”

Screenshot (1)

*
Saturday night and with Blight, Kerley and TISM alumni, Humphrey B. Flaubert, Jock Cheese, Eugene de la Hot Croix Bun, and Ron Hitler-Barassi doubtlessly peering at the box (although probably not together) this fixture is underway.

Crow-for-life Mitch McGovern grabs and goals to get us underway but such is my remove from yoof that I can’t read his Anchorman moustache. Is it authentic, ironic or post-ironic? PM me if you can help.

For the Saints the aspirational housing developer’s dream Blake Acres (You’ll love coming home to Blake Acres) bends it too far at the other end. He’s lively early. While the Crows finished fluently last week they’re stuttering tonihgt.

Meanwhile the wife is watching The Bridges of Madison County. I trust Clint’s getting a few touches. Young Saint Jimmy Webster (was he in Goodfellas?) is also strong in attack, but the home side isn’t capitalising on their possession. Cam Ellis-Yolmen looks impressive around the ball, and his big body adds some grunt in this Crouchless knickers onball division. Meanwhile, Acres continues to be given too much space.

TISM

With daylight savings ended it’s dark at six, but still appealingly warm. I’m watching the game on a device on our patio, but somehow there’s more flies now than there were in January. I should light a mossie candle. I’d also have thought the Docklands seagull curfew to have passed but apparently not.

885 saints have been canonized by Pope Francis (2013–) during his pontificate and most of them (ignoring the five years after their death detail) have turned up to watch their eponymous side. There’s plenty of empty seats across the Docklands stadium so the miracle verification can continue apace.

Tom Lynch again shows his crystal vision and quick kicking which results in a major. He must be in the first six picked, every week. What if next year there’s two Tom Lynches in one side? Speaking of such, how lucky are we to have had so many Nathan Browns play AFL in the last decade?

Eddie finally opens his season’s account with a signature sequence of side-stepping and Sherrin-curling. With the earlier birth today of twin girls he’s had a surreal day in which life and footy have intersected in beautiful and complex ways.

Then, a Richard Douglas goal is reviewed to a behind because, allegedly, a subatomic fingernail particle made contact with the ball for a zeptosecond. Clearly, the physics is beyond me, but I’m sure these decisions are made using the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).

The second half starts and I wonder how Ron, Humphrey, Jock and co are. I wonder if Kerls is cooking some yabbies and how Blighty hit them today. Sweetly, I’m guessing.

Don’t let me down, Bruce, gets one for the locals and they seem primed. But then the game again descends to the mundane, despite the clear nihgt. Like the final hour of a bikie wedding reception this is untidy stuff, until Betts gets it out the back to break the tedium. JB is settling into his new commentating role. I’d argue he’s better than BT or KB or DK or SK or BJ or VB.

The Crows register three rapidly, and the complexion changes. Then, former Pie Seedsman applies an exquisite tackle and we’re five goals to the good. Tex, off a step…

I duck into the boys’ room and coax the youngest to put down his latest Captain Underpants book (No, it wasn’t based upon a Saints’ end of season trip). He’s had a big day.

During the denouement Eddie takes a hanger. The siren sounds. The kick’s skinny, and irrelevant.

MB

 

 

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Like music? Like beer? Read this!

hay plains

Hay Plain – Julia Jacklin

It’s a rite of passage for many of us. Going from South Australia to Sydney and driving across the Hay Plains.

In the summer of 1989 old Kapunda mates Bobby, Swanny, Puggy, Pinny (not actually his nickname but it seems a shame to exclude him) and I drove it in a hire car.

It was a Commodore wagon with a radar detector we’d borrowed from local publican and iconoclast Puffa. It went, as your Uncle would say, like the clappers.

I’m sure we had other cassettes but I remember the B52’s Cosmic Thing featuring, of course, “Love Shack.” It was a fun album, but twice a day for three weeks became, for me, audio water-boarding.

cosmic thing

Around Coffs Harbour the tape somehow ended up buried in my suitcase. Someone, I suspect it was Swanny, solved the mystery of the Missing Cassette and rescued the tragic tape. On it went! Yippee. “If you see a painted sign…”

Every night all five of us slept in the same big room. At least one would sleep in his clothes. I can only guess at the olfactory horror of those murky, blokish spaces.

I’m pretty sure we ate KFC every day for about three weeks. It was like that alarmist documentary Super Size Me. I blew up like an inflatable raft.

KFC

Julia Jacklin is a great alt-country singer songwriter and her debut album Don’t Let The Kids Win features beautifully-crafted songs. “Hay Plain” is an atmospheric, plaintive number in which she uses her charismatic voice to engaging affect.

In it she makes reference to that iconic Sydney road, the Western Distributor. In 1985 on my first trip to Sydney with Trev, Chrisso and Woodsy in his Datsun 180B we stayed with a mate in Drummonye and used this road daily.

Right by the exit was a huge billboard with a giant image of a funnel web spider baring its metre-long fangs, warning people to avoid these horrific fuckers.

One night we got home and our old school mate Brendan, now peeling prolifically because of Bondi sunburn, yelled out, “No! We’ve been robbed. Someone’s stolen my cup of skin.”

Julia Jacklin’s on my list of acts to see and this clip from a show in Melbourne’s Northcote Social Club captures her warmth and talent-

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gf6YdmKIChU

Pleader- alt J

British indie darlings alt-J toured Australia late last year and old mate Brett and I went along to the Adelaide Entertainment Centre on a Tuesday. Tuesday being the convenient and traditional night for major touring artists to play in our little city.

Having avoided incapacitation by a Coopers Clear – surely the Trevor Chappell of this distinguished beer family – we ventured into the barn-like room and I was delighted by the crisp and punchy sound quality. The band were amazing unlike their set at Singapore’s Laneway Festival in 2014 when, dogged by technical problems, they sulked off stage mid-song.

singapore laneway

I texted Brett the day after the Adelaide concert and shared that I thought the final song of their most recent album was the highlight of our night. “Pleader” is a moody six minutes’ voyage with the opening three a foreboding instrumental before the last half of the track has a stunning choral outchorus, complete with agrarian imagery and biblical textures.

The accompanying video is inspired by the Welsh mining classic novel How Green Was My Valley? Among the unforgettable scenes is one with a landslide caused by the detonation of a WW2 German V2 bomb.

The vocals are distinctive and rarefied and the lush orchestration builds the sense of doom. Hugely impressive.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RrhSJzM8NLE

Coopers Session Ale

Released mere weeks after the apocalyptic 1993 preliminary final in which the Crows choked after half time, Coopers Black Crow came into the market. This marked a spectacularly dismal month for crows, everywhere.

black crow

A mid-strength lager, it was massively disappointing, especially for an enthusiast such as me. It was named by public competition among significant fanfare. A more accurate name would have been Dead Cat Piss.

Bursting into the world last October was Coopers Session Ale. It is everything its feathery, deceased predecessor was not.

Tropical, fruity, and with citrus complexity beyond big brother the celebrated Pale Ale, it speaks of a lazy afternoon on a Pacific island. Marrying Galaxy and Melba hop varieties with secondary fermentation, it’s animated in the glass, a triumph of golden straw colour and fetching aroma.

Each and every Friday around 4.27pm I pay wave $12 at Gavin, mine host at the Broady and receive two crisp pints in return as the murmuring and the post-working week shuffling builds in his front bar.

I must mention that the packaged version is inferior, and humbly submit that the colossal Sparkling Ale is the only Coopers beer which is better out of a bottle, a bloody big bottle.

Still the Session Ale is a ripper. Perfect.