Lifestyle

There’s more to a pub than a cold beer and a chicken parmi

By Liam Nash

WORD BOY LIAM NASH IS LEARNING LIFE LESSONS AT THE PUB

Are pubs the perfect social mixing bowl?

I have had many a memorable moment in taverns either side of the Tasman, met plenty of hard-cases along the way and have even had a couple of unforeseen job offers — one of which I took.

After settling down in Tatura, the town where I currently reside, I was surprised to discover I had the choice to wet the whistle at three separate pubs (slightly alarming considering it has a population of less than 5000, nevertheless, it is nice to have options).

Following a careful selection process, I decided that the Tatura Hotel, or ‘middle pub’, would become my ‘local’.

While I wouldn’t consider myself a regular, a few sporadic chats over the taps now means that one foot in the door is a signal for the bartender to start pouring a perfect pint of God’s drop (Carlton Dry, for those who don’t know).

Something so simple has since made me analyse the ideology of a pub, and all its glory.

Pool tournaments here, karaoke nights there — when is there ever a shortage of entertainment at a pub?

It is hard to escape the humble charm of taverns, even the sporting world is littered with bar dwellers.

One of my all-time favourite athletes honed his craft in a pub. Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor, a stout individual hailing from England’s Stoke-on-Trent, is by no means anywhere the picture of peak physical performance.

However, stick him six feet out from a dartboard, and he is the deadliest man on the planet within the code.

How could someone with not one ounce of athleticism in his body go from earning 50 pounds a week manufacturing ceramic toilet roll handles to boasting a net worth of $10 million, as well as making an appearance as Disco Dave on Coronation Street?

Why, by putting in the hard yards at the pub of course.

Pub grub is also another feature of the establishment which speaks volumes of the modest grandeur they hold. For lack of a better analogy, tavern tucker is the meat and potatoes of anybody’s comfort food palate.

It’s so good, even the world’s most famous celebrity chef decided to showcase it to the world at Caesar’s Palace, Las Vegas. Granted, fish and chips served at Gordon Ramsay’s Pub & Grill is perhaps a tad more cultured than the meals found at your local, but the homeliness and familiarity of it is what makes all pub food great.

But aside from the spectacular potation and cuisine, it has to be the characters we meet at these establishments which is the real reason why we keep coming back.

I was once challenged to a footrace around the car park for $200 by a man who, although seemed horizontally challenged and highly unlikely to beat me, was leagues ahead mentally — and here’s why.

Given my naivete, and slight tipsiness at the time, the dangling carrot was too irresistible not to take.

Off I teared, constantly looking over the shoulder and breaking into laughter mid-stride thinking how foolish this utter stranger had been to challenge an 18-year-old in reasonable shape to a race of any kind.

The realisation came when I came bolting in through the beer garden while doing some premature subliminal spending.

Lo and behold, my previously untouched pint was gone, and so was he. Sadly, the man wasn’t kind enough to leave a tip.

Despite my red-faced ranting and expletives, looking back at experiences such as this one makes it clear that these are the sort of upstanding citizens which make pub culture great.

It is the tall tales spun through slurred sentences and crocked dialogue which I live for, because after a long day, a laugh can go a long way.

But drunk talk isn’t always nonsense.

I have received some of the most meaningful life advice over a cold one from people who have been there, done that, and wouldn’t mind donating their two cents to a charitable cause.

Here’s me, a 21-year-old guy with virtually no life experience listening to somebody pouring their heart out about loved ones lost, fortunes squandered et al. Where else could you sit eye to eye with that kind of wisdom on a Friday night in the wops, and why is there nowhere else where you can learn these hard truths?

Because there are some things that can’t be taught in school, which makes a serving of street knowledge all the more important.

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