Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Local

I have been musing for a while now about the phenomenon of the Local Pub. I grew up in Strathfield, which was pretty poorly endowed with pubs, of the local or any other variety. I now live in the Newtown area, which is a very old skool part of town, with more drinking establishments than you could poke a pubcrawl at. I like it. I have my favourite pub, which I am sure is not news to pretty much anyone reading this, nor is its identity - The Courthouse - or the Courtie, as we locals like to call it.

Here is the rub - I like to think of myself as a local at my Local. Hmm, what do you have to do to qualify for that, I hear you ask. Good question - let's look into that, shall we?

There are two issues, really. Firstly, what constitutes a Local Pub?

  1. The most important factor is an air of history and permanence. This is not achieved by getting the Paddy-O-Matic boys in to install in two shakes of a leprechaun's shelaligh a plethora of genuine imitation Irishness. You know the stuff, crisp shiny posters of the 1923 Guiness advertising campaign, a couple of hurling sticks crossed over the bar, lots of green crap, etc. No, I am talking about a bar that has been in situ longer than living memory, decor that has only been updated by installing a few TV's for footy watching and toilets that are an adventure.
  2. The second factor - an absence of stainless steel other than in the sink and driptrays, along with no shiny new mahogany - is really the inverse of the first factor. It is in fact worse to go all modern in refitting a pub than to go for 100 Years Of Irish Pubness In A Bottle. The silly thing is these folks spend a gazillion bucks on the refurb, it may well go gangbusters as the trendy set move in for 6 months, then they are left trying to pay for the other half of the fitout until their dying day. Don't do it, I tell you. All that cashish could be spent on new TV's and cheaper beer, for god's sake.
  3. The same people sitting around the bar. A pub is a Local when you can walk in and see the same stoney, semi-drunk faces every time you walk in. Initially, the temptation is to think how sad it is that these people are stuck, drinking away their lives with no friends... but they are in on a secret: They probably have more friends than we do, and they are all at the Local too. We all have a drink more often than not when we socialise at home (don't we? no come on, really?), they just have a convenient meeting place already picked out.

So now on to our second item - how do you become one of these insightful people? Here are some of the signs:

  1. The days and times of Happy Hour, Badge Draw, the Meat Tray and Toss the Boss are indelibly entered into your mental calendar. You have to set your alarm to get up every morning, you have to remind yourself of your mother's birthday (not me, of course), but when you wake up on a Tuesday, you know where you will be at 7pm that night.
  2. You walk into the pub and several of the locals give you a wave, say g'day, or offer a dour nod. When you get the last of these, you know you have cracked it. These ones are the real hard core, and normally you have to have contributed the equivalent of at least 10 years' pension cheques over the bar for them to acknowledge that you are entitled to draw on the same smokey opaque atmosphere as them.
  3. When you walk up to the bar, at least one of the bar staff asks if you want your usual. This leads to jealous looks from aspiring locals. Again, true local status is achieved when you can place your empty glass on the bar with some money and faster than you can say "Ok, I'll just have one more for the road", you have a new drink and your change. Miraculous.
  4. When someone wants to meet for a drink, and despite your best efforts the location is somewhere other than the Local, you suddenly find your enthusiasm waning. The good news is, if you can't be arsed going to meet them, you could always wander up to the Local for a beer.

Just the one, of course.

16 Comments:

At 2:53 pm, Blogger Chesty LaRue said...

So long as you're not alking up to the bar and ordering 'the usual', only to be met with a blank stare, it's all good.

 
At 2:55 pm, Blogger Mex said...

i have to say i completely disagree with you.

the 'local pub' doesnt necessarily have to have all those things... it just has to be the one in which you are a 'local'. easy as that.

try finding even ONE pub in canberra that fits that bill.

actually stuff that - they dont even really have pubs in canberra.

 
At 3:00 pm, Blogger WJ said...

Well mex, i don't think I am claiming that a pub has to have all those things, I have tended to focus on things that disqalify a pub from being a local. Certainly if you can tick one of the boxes in the second list, it is a good sign that you are on the way to being a local yourself.

Then again, this may just be an attempt on my part to justify the amount of time I spend in the one establishment. Or in case my mother ever reads this, that might be completely wrong too.

oh and mum, they made me swear, honest.

 
At 3:07 pm, Blogger W said...

Ahh, the mystery of the Aussie pub explained.

I had a great pub that I loved in Toronto with an honest to god snug, the best Kilkenny in the city and serious food. We aspired to be locals there and got to be friendly with the (cute, irish) barkeeps. However, too far to walk, so it could never really be the local.

Here, I don't really have one - we tend to drink at home and since I have no one in my immediate neighbourhood to drink with, I *sniff* don't think I will ever be a local.

 
At 3:11 pm, Blogger fingers said...

A good local is one where you can forget your card behind the bar when you leave, come back 3 weeks later and find less that two-grand on the tab...
A bad local is one where you walk in and they say 'You're still banned here, cunt'...

 
At 3:52 pm, Blogger Original Mel said...

A good local is where they know your order before you're even at the bar.

A great local is one where you rarely have to pay for it.

 
At 5:23 pm, Blogger Mex said...

my friend got banned from our local once...

the next day the licencee called him to apologise on behalf of the bouncers and to offer him a night of free drinks.

 
At 5:26 pm, Blogger fingers said...

They just don't write feel-good stories like that anymore...

 
At 5:27 pm, Blogger WJ said...

damn right. although at the Courtie there are no bouncers, and you would have to puke in someone's face to get yourself thrown out of there...

 
At 6:44 am, Anonymous SouthernBelle said...

They love 100 Years Of Irish Pubness In A Bottle here too, there are at least 3 Irish pubs just in downtown and also 2 Scottish ones, just to mix it up a little... then again, Savannah has the USA's 2nd biggest St Pats Day parade (2nd only to NYC) so perhaps it's justified.
; )

I've never been a local in any pub, probably due to my shamefully UnAustralian distaste for beer - people here are always disappointed when I tell them I don't drink beer, and in fact nobody drinks Foster's ('cept my dad, but that's only cos he's not picky). Also apparently the pub closest to my house is the local crack-den...

 
At 2:32 pm, Blogger Georgia said...

My local back home is the Rosebery, directly across the road from my flat with a little bottle-o and comically cheap prices. It's like being back in Bathurst circa 1993. My friend Wendy and I once got smashed in there for about $30. We left with full wallets and light heads. Am looking forward to a schooner of Carlton Draught there next March.

My Dubai local is the Boston Bar. It's kinda meant to look like the Cheers Bar but it's the least pretentious boozer in town, there's plenty of sport on, they do great nachos and across the hotel foyer (for pretty much all Dubai bars are incorporated into hotels) is a German restaurant where you get bread and pig fat free with your meal. Tremendous!

 
At 12:43 pm, Blogger mushroom said...

I love my local. And all the dregs that drink in it.

 
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