Almanac (Mystery) Pubs: You Right There Darl?


Everybody in the front bar ends each sentence with, ‘Darl.’


‘Just another pint thanks, Darl.’


‘Here’s your change, Darl.’


‘Which Aristotelian concepts most influenced Western thought, Darl?’


It’s just prior to 5pm in the Henley Beach Hotel but many of the front bar punters give the distinct impression that they’ve been in here for much longer. It seems very lived in. There’s a steady clunking from the pool table.


I order us a drink. Roger, known to the bar staff variously as Roger or Darl leans past me like I don’t belong and grabs a bottle of bitters. He shakes a few drops into his beer. The bar staff (the one without the visible neck tattoos) says to Roger, ‘You right there Darl?’ Roger then explains how he generally shakes a few drops of bitters into his beer. She nods and replies, ‘No worries, Darl.’


We head next door into the Family Bistro, and I wonder who could eat an entire family. I usher Claire onto the front veranda where there’s darts on the TV and a good view of the beach and late-afternoon sky, either side of the esplanade’s squat toilet block. It’s a little brisk so we return to the Bistro where, near as I can tell, nobody’s yet ordered a family.


Claire and I dissect our days during which my wife went to the Post Office. Now, this is usually a fraught exercise, and the almost imperceptible queue movement means that the package you’re sending to Europe gets there before you return to the car. We remember the days when all you could buy at a post office were stamps.


Having not been inoculated against the rampant front bar contagion I ask Claire, ‘What would you like now, Darl?’


‘A glass of red, thanks,’ comes her pronoun-free response. I’m almost disappointed.


The bar staff slips a couple of raffle tickets into my paw, and I slap these down on our table like a card shark in a Vegas casino.


‘No idea,’ I declare when Claire asks what the raffle prizes are. We then speak of that decidedly Aristotelian concept, the meat tray, and its various symbolic values.


‘I only ever won once,’ Claire confesses. ‘A chicken when I was in primary school.’ Good to note the Catholics encouraging gambling I thought. St. Joseph, patron saint of chooks and trifectas.


‘Alive or not?’ I asked.




I was curious. ‘How did that go at home with a family of nine?’


Claire describes that her Mum made it work, as she always did.


A glance at the Family Bistro menu reveals that it’s ‘inspired by our surroundings’ but I can confirm I saw no cattle on the beach nor stray snags in the carpark. Perhaps the specials include a ‘hideously expensive gentleman’s bungalow’ with your choice of salad or veg.


The Family Bistro’s getting busy as folks kick off their weekend with a nosebag at the boozer. It’s home time for us.


We recklessly abandon our free raffle tickets and scarper to the motor, confident that the winner of the neck chops was a front bar resident likely called, ‘Darl.’




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About Mickey Randall

No, instead I get out my Volleys, each with the inescapable hole, just by the little toe. What if someone bought a pair of Volleys and they didn’t develop these holes? The absence of holes would itself make a psychological hole.


  1. roger lowrey says

    Hey MR, I suppose if you go to as many pubs as you seem to then the law of averages probably requires some disappointments as well as the welcome gems. Sadly, this does seem to be one of the former, darl.

    If I may use the phrase favoured by our legal friends which they are so obsessively insistent on including in almost everything they write for us, “for the avoidance of doubt” I advise fellow Almanac readers that the Roger in this narrative is a Henley Beach Hotel bogan unknown to your unworthy author.


  2. Thanks Roger. As Claire hadn’t visited the Henley pub it was more a case of local obligation that hostelry inspiration and wanting to add to her coastal context.

    And I should have borrowed the phrase used in ancient American crime TV, ‘the names have been changed to protect those residing many hundreds of kilometres away in Geelong.’

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