Almanac Life: Two blokes walk into a pub (Part 1)

Left to Right: Kevin Densley, publican Andy O’Brien and Roger Lowrey at the Petrel Hotel, Geelong West.



Two Blokes Walk into A Pub
(Part 1)


“Larger than a seagull and smaller than an albatross,” said Roger Dominic Lowrey, when we were lunching in the bar of the Petrel Hotel recently.


I reflected upon this as I gazed out the window at Pakington Street’s passing parade. (Not much of a parade, really – this end of Pako is normally pretty quiet, as opposed to other parts where the shops and cafes are often very busy.)


“Good description, mate,” I responded before I scoffed my last slice of the pub’s equivalent of pizza-with-the-lot. “Didn’t know you were an ornithologist … Petrel’s a funny name for a pub, though, isn’t it? Calling one after a sea bird known for weathering storms.”


“I suppose a pub is a place to weather storms, eh? A kind of refuge where you can get away from whatever it is you want to get away from,” opined RDL, a piece of battered flathead tail poised on the end of his fork.


“Yeah. I guess so.” I drained my pot. Andy the publican suddenly appeared at the bar, as if instinctively sensing that I wanted something. “Um … can you make me a cup of tea, thanks?” He appeared puzzled. (Did I imagine that he furrowed his brow and silently mouthed the word “tea”?) “I have to drive.”


“Oh,” he replied. “No worries. I’ll see what we’ve got.”


“Anything except herbal … now, where were we, RDL?”


“How are we going to do this joint Footy Almanac piece about the Petrel?”


“I’ve got a couple of ideas,” I offered.


“Please proceed, comrade,” said RDL, after consuming his last fork-full of flathead fillet. (I must admit, it looked pretty good. Perhaps I should’ve ordered it, too – but no, my pizza was perfectly fine.) He took a sip of his Mt Duneed Shiraz.


“Well, these are just ideas … one is that we could write a Socratic dialogue, you know, thesis/antithesis, thesis/antithesis … we’d do this as a kind of joke … but I’d still want it to be a proper Socratic dialogue.” RDL was listening politely, but I was going cold on the idea the more I talked about it. “Or we could do something like Mark Twain’s ‘Two Views of a River’ where he writes about his beloved Mississippi … though really that is an innocence/experience piece, where the first part of the story is his romantic view of the river as a young man, while the second explores the dangers of the river as he experienced them during his time as a river pilot. Don’t know how we’d fit that basic structure to a Petrel piece.”


“I’m happy just to mull on things for a few days and see what develops,” said RDL. He drained his shiraz.


“Yeah. Fair enough,” I replied. “We can then bounce the pieces we come up with off each other via email.”


“I think I’ll round off with a cleansing ale,” said Roger. (Oops, I’ve written his first name in full – feels strange using it.)


“Sorry I can’t join you for another one.” I gazed around me at the small, clean public bar. TVs showing races and race results cast a soft colourful glow upon various parts of the room. “It is a nice little pub, isn’t it. One of those old-fashioned, neighbourhood style hotels. Coming here is a bit like having a drink at somebody’s house.”


“That’s one of the reasons why I like it. It’s quiet, local clientele, no fights … ,” said RDL, sipping on his beer.


“The first time I came here was about forty years ago, I reckon, when I was eighteen. There used to be an upright piano in an alcove of the hallway as you walked to the Ladies’ Lounge. Not there anymore.”


“Not even a hallway since the renovations. S’pose convivial public singing isn’t really the done thing these days, anyway.”


“S’pose not.” I looked out the window.


An old man walking a small, white, curly-haired terrier passed by – this end of Pakington Street had not become any busier.


To read the second part of this venture from Roger Lowrey’s perspective, click HERE




More from Kevin Densley HERE






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Kevin Densley is a graduate of both Deakin University and The University of Melbourne. He has taught writing and literature in numerous Victorian universities and TAFES. He is a poet and writer-in-general. His fifth book-length poetry collection, Please Feed the Macaws ... I'm Feeling Too Indolent, will be published in late 2023 by Ginninderra Press. He is also the co-author of ten play collections for young people, as well as a multi Green Room Award nominated play, Last Chance Gas, which was published by Currency Press. Other writing includes screenplays for educational films.


  1. So many names can be used to describe a pub – a refuge, a place to eat, meet, and seat. A therapy centre. A beer improver (always tastes better in a pub?). A hiding place. A footy tipping mecca. Not work. The place where parmas are made. Still something of a man cave? Banter central.

    Enjoyed this little chat.

  2. Kevin Densley says

    Thanks for the comments, Dips!

    I certainly agree that a pub is a multi-purpose venue along the lines you describe.

  3. Colin Ritchie says

    This could be the start of something new for the Almanac, fab concept. Who’s next?

  4. An interesting concept Kevin. It would be very interesting to see (and hear) a chance meeting in a pub between Sir Ian Botham and Ian Chappell. How would they react – interesting.

  5. Kevin Densley says

    Thanks, Col!

    I’m certain the idea has “legs”, so to speak!

  6. Kevin Densley says

    Thank you, Fisho.

    I agree that the Chappelli/Botham meeting would be one to see and hear! (And possibly require third party intervention!)

  7. The pub is a favourite refuge for me.
    Always has been, and sometimes to my detriment.

  8. Kevin Densley says

    Yes, “refuge” is an apt descriptive word, isn’t it, Smokie?

    I know what you mean by “sometimes to my detriment”, too! For a while, when working in central Ballarat years ago, I stayed at a nearby pub – got roped into their “Wine Appreciation Society” (which had regular meetings) and came to know the publican and regulars very well! There were certainly a number of occasions when I went to work a bit dusty

  9. There’s a hint of Godot in this.

    Pubs are magnificent. The good ones. (And there aren’t many crook ones).

  10. Kevin Densley says

    Thanks for the comments, JTH!

    And “Godot”, yes, certainly! In fact, I think an almost-deserted public bar of a small hotel would be an excellent setting for Beckett’s play, whether stylised on stage – or in an actual pub.

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