Claire and I share a monthly tradition in which one takes the other to a secret pub for a Friday hour. But Mystery Pub has a less frequent and more leisurely sibling we call Mystery Date.
Saturday was my turn to be indulged.
Some loathe surprise but I love to bask in the underlying kindness. Parking the car at Light Square I’m then on foot and chaperoned through our handsome city. The clouds made a low, grey ceiling and the streets were emptyish. Claire wondered if the subdued, barren landscape were still plagued by the pandemic.
North Terrace is an elegant boulevard befitting Paris or Madrid and as we scurried past the casino, art gallery and assorted statues of older men, less-old men and dead men on horseback I was curious about our first stop.
Our Footy, Our People, Our Stories was an invitation to drift back gently to my childhood. The SANFL exhibition features photos and sound archives and film footage. We watched the highlights of Glenelg’s 1986 triumph and then saw Port Adelaide win the 1988 flag, the first of nine premierships in about a decade. I understood Macbeth’s despondency upon seeing that Banquo’s offspring would reign forever when he mutters in disgust, ‘Will the line stretch out until the crack of doom?’
How great to then pause in the Library Café and peer out across the wet courtyard and admire the museum and meditate upon the joyous escapism these majestic buildings provided us when we were kids. They still do.
After some sneaky misdirection and circuitous driving to preserve the mystery Claire pulled up on Magill Road. Drifting east and in and out of some antiques stores we also gazed in the windows of boutiques and restaurants and speculated upon their offerings. We chatted constantly and made connections to our surroundings, and each other.
Wolfie’s Records occupies an entire cottage and sells vinyl, vintage clothing and used turntables. In a small room Claire and I flicked through the racks of albums and here’s a snippet of our conversation-
C- Rod Stewart. Yuk.
M- Here’s a Jackson Browne record I’ve been after.
C- Great. I like him too.
M- Phil Collins. One word- why?
C- Oh, God. Dr. Hook!
M- No, we already have the Sherbet Collection.
C- Ripper ’77?
M- Has the entire country flogged off their LRB collection?
And then in another cottage crowded with audiophiles we repeated the process a few doors up at Big Star Records. It was a lovely, diverting hour and I was keen to play my new/used $10 copy of Running on Empty. Over a warming shiraz later that night it would teleport me back to Kapunda and Year 11 when I understood little of it but tried to imagine its palm-treed Californian world.
Having gifted me an afternoon of footy and music, with her unparalleled kindness my wife then drove me through Stepney’s narrow streets to the Little Bang Brewery at which she’d made a reservation for two.
It was bursting with good fortune and a thrumming din. A sign announced a party that had assembled for ‘Mitch’s 30th.’ With Pinto Gris and IPA refreshments aboard we decamped to our cosy balcony space and surveyed the steel beer vats.
Suitable menu items were selected and we dissected our excursion and considered the evening. Identifying Mitch we note that his wife appeared to be about 8 and 3/4 months pregnant so we silently wished them joy and patience from our lofty location.
The fare was fine and as always I enjoyed my beery excursion into novelty. Steering through the mid-winter dusk and
thrilling despairing at the radio’s description of Port losing, I contemplated the spring edition of Mystery Date which I’d curate for Claire.
It would soon be upon us.