Almanac Pubs: A single sentence on Mystery Pub in the Warradale


Escaping today’s guerrilla heat spike (41 degrees at 4.50pm), Claire and I march like North Korean soldiers from the motor and then we’re inside the dead-eyed TAB-tomb and want to steal through to the beer garden but head-butting all the internal walls, we’re thwarted as the Warradale Hotel comprises two separate buildings so it’s actually dual, eerily competing pubs with distinctive demographics, and we reluctantly retreat outside to the hotness; subsequently re-entering through the gaming section during which I’m sure Claire wants to shout, supportively, to the glum zombie faces, ‘Save yourselves from this vampiric psychic awfulness and the free tea and instant coffee and colourless digestive biscuits which aren’t really free’ and arriving in the Garden Bar, despite my studiously booking a spot on Monday and now stepping purposely like mildly enraged librarians, we locate no sign gently announcing in a kindly font, ‘Michael 5 pm,’ and it’s personally deflating and sets a prickly, I suspect, unrecoverable tone for my relationship with this colossal concrete pub, but right now doesn’t matter, as we enclose a dappled table reserved later for the dedicated, undoubtedly oppressed folk of the dastardly Spotlight emporium (fabrics, craft and homewares) who, we collectively decide, are getting their Christmas function done early this year, a celebration certainly to be fraught and hilarious and teary and concluding messily with more unashamed tears and multiple snotty carpark wailings of, “I bloody love you’ and ‘I tell you, Jayden’s not bloody good enough for you, Honestee’; however, as the ceiling aperture is useless, it’s a marginally toxic room, and boxes in the fuggy smoke (both vape and traditional, like so much in our world we now have electronic and organic versions) shrouding us like a Scooby Doo phantom, so we flee inside with our cherished friends Michelle and Trish, who are today’s Mystery Pub special guests like Suzi Quatro when she was on Happy Days as Leather Tuscadero (even becoming a brief love interest for Ralph Malph) and each of us clasps a unique Friday drink: Claire opting for a turbo-charged brandy and coke, Michelle indulging in a zesty and luscious cocktail, Trish choosing an uplifting soda water adorned with mint leaves (an unparalleled scent, methinks) while I foolishly endure my twice-a-year Heineken later retelling myself that it’s not an exotic lager but really just European VB sans the sophistication; spinning our attention to Michelle’s trip to that continent next year, which arrives as ‘I’m going to Eurovision in Malmo’ while my question to her, ‘Are you looking forward to the irony of it?’ receives a positive reply, with Michelle also listing kitsch delight, outrageous music, and ridiculous Swedish fun as key anticipations then our conversation migrates to our vegetated backyards and our sometimes errant offspring, and the bi-weekly quiz nights, and our respective dreamy retirement visions then concluding with goodbyes a-fluttering, and we’re going, ‘to the places you will be from,’ as the band Semisonic sings in the rousing barroom anthem, ‘Closing Time’; nevertheless, the curious future tense of the lyric is true for blessed people in midnight bars sometimes chance across their momentous other, and fashion mutually enriching lives, and I wonder about our table in the Warradale, yes, this very durable table which another sign indicates will later vanish when the floor beneath us enjoys a twilight transmogrification into a space for disco, Nutbush, the military two-step but hopefully not line dancing, and I mention the short story conference I’m currently attending to which Trish says, ‘The Californian creative writing professor (from whom at a provoking but productive workshop I was inspired to attempt this literary technique) is a dancer too and I danced with him Wednesday night at a salsa social,’ but overall it’s been a buoyant hour, and the Mystery Pub excursion into minor pleasure and suburban surprise continues, while in our tandoor car, Claire pulls the seatbelt over her shoulder.



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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. In a previous life as an Almanac editor I recall similar submissions from a South Australian writer where the content was excellent but the punctuation “unique”. It was a labour of love to get them into publishing shape. Must be something in the water over there. I’ve graded yours an 8 – Intentional; High Impact.
    An early one from ERegnans – allegedly about a Test Cricket match – was full of flying horses named after long dead Collingwood footballers and had sentences that went for paragraphs without drawing breath or punctuation. I laid into it with the red pen before pausing to think it may be a stylistic thing. Consulted with the Chief Editor who told me to leave it alone and stop being the Style Nazi. The piece was highly praised by (Victorian) commenators.
    James Joyce Lite?

  2. Thanks PB.

    All this talk of James Joyce reminds me of how it took me about four attempts and over twenty years to read Ulysses and while I got the plot so much of it was beyond me. However, I was sufficiently self-pleased by this achievement that I then picked up Finnegans Wake, looked at the first page with this

    The fall (bababadalgharaghtakamminarronnkonnbronntonnerronn- tuonnthunntrovarrhounawnskawntoohoohoordenenthurnuk!)

    and put it back on the shelf. I doubt I’ll return to it (I might just keep rereading The Sportswriter series). Love Er’s stuff and that other chap is a great storyteller (and book seller!).

  3. Can a single sentence essay be broken into paragraphs? Don’t worry about me MR, I’m just dizzy from absorbing the plentiful, interesting twists and turns in this different yet excellent approach to your ongoing series. Love it.

    Mind you I’m a fan of e.e. cummings (they sowed their isn’t they reaped their same) and others who ignore or bend the rules of punction and grammar.

    The first novel that captured my creative spirit was Lawrence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy. For a 16-year-old, living in the bleak humdrum dormitory suburbs of Perth in the 70s and Australia still clinging helplessly to UK mores, this book blew that fixed wiring apart. As did the Pistols. When I finally got to Don Quixote decades later (and my number 1 novel) I was old enough to understand how rules are a guide, not a prison.

    Interestingly, re James Joyce, I saw a production of The Dubliners in old Dublin town on Bloomsday last year and it was magnificent. His writing is like honey (my simile gives you an idea of how far removed I am from him in the Tower of Song). I was transfixed.

    Your essay also reminded me of long single camera shots in movies. This essay is somewhere between Gravity and Snake Eyes – as in the lack of in such taverns as you ventured into and the ever-present tension of said tavern, even while enjoying a night out with friends.

  4. Hello there Rick. I did wonder about inserting line breaks to sectionalise the prose but thought that it would then no longer be prose. Might be something to attempt down the track.

    I attended the Australian Short Story Festival last week and it was excellent. During the first workshop mention was made of the lyric essay. Having not heard of it I made a note and discovered that it’s a literary hybrid that combines elements of poetry, essay, and memoir. I reckon these are something I could pursue and am sure that we’ve all read a few examples on this site. Again, Er comes to mind.

    Yes to ee cummings too. The Dubliners on Bloomsday in Old Dublin town! There’s a life highlight for sure (my birthday is on Bloomsday too). Would love to see Under Milk Wood in Laugharne, Wales one day. That’d be superb.

    Just saw that a book club finished discussing Finnegans Wake and it took them 28 years! They must’ve skipped big chunks.

    Thanks for your time and extended commentary!

  5. This particular review was an interesting construct, Mickey.
    It kept me reading (which is the whole point, I guess!) right up to the ‘tandoor car’.

    A mate of mine is in a book club, and their next book is Ulysses. He asked me had I read it? I replied “twice”. What did you think, he asked. “I am still not sure”, I answered.

  6. Thanks Smokie. Ulysses is on my lengthening list for retirement. Beyond its concerns with sex and pubs, I have limited recall of it!

    During the Short Story Festival, I attended a workshop that urged us to not always rewrite the same, easy story and we were guided us through a set of exercises which pushed us in uncomfortable ways. It was good. Alicia Sometimes was there too, and I asked her later if she thought she wrote ‘the same story over and over.’ I was heartened that she immediately nodded yes.

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