Almanac Pubs: Security! Security! Trouble at Mystery Pub


‘I think they’re Russian mafia,’ I suggest, glancing again over at the table behind us.


Claire disagrees. ‘The accent’s not right. Could be Italian?’


There’s four huddled together in the bistro and the alpha male is lecturing incessantly. The other man nods, as do the two women. They’re youngish and it only encourages him. I say to Claire, ‘If it’s Italian you could probably understand it.’


‘True. No, I can’t. It could be Spanish.’


We agree that it’s likely Español and return to the blustery afternoon outside. White caps push onto the clean sand and the balcony’s blue and red flags are rippling.


Claire’s picked a close venue but a surprising one. The Somerton Bar and Bistro sits atop the surf lifesaving club. It’s happy hour and my James Squire One Fifty Lashes pale ale is decent although I’m not as enthusiastic about it as I was a decade ago. My wife’s white is affable. Both are only $5 each.


Down on the esplanade there’s a trickle of traffic. Some are lone walkers; others have dogs. From the south a woman in black leisure gear bursts into view, moving with pace. Just as suddenly, she stops. I’m unsure if she’s run ten miles, or ten steps.


Surveying the coast with her year 12 Geography lens, Claire considers. ‘There’s less visual pollution here at Somerton Park. No buoys, poles, lights.’


We’re often at Glenelg North and this provides a crowded, messy vista with the groyne running out by the marina and like Venice’s Grand Canal, various channel markers jutting out of the ocean. For the purists these human interventions might ruin the aesthetic. I nod agreement at Claire like I probably did in year 12 Geography with Ms. Bogle down in the Matric Centre.


Our Spanish neighbours are still with us, and the alpha male continues to talk at a clip like an Andalusian dancing horse might do in a fever dream. He must be sharing hugely vital information, sensitive data, gripping intelligence. His associates constantly nod like they’re committing every word to memory.


I amuse myself by thinking he’s the type of swarthy tourist who gets collared on Border Security for masterminding a massive drug operation. But in truth he’s probably a photocopier technician boring his colleagues rigid with an unrelenting address on toner and ink cartridges and paper jams.


A clot of aggrieved, frowning diners suddenly looms over me.


The haggard, dirty blonde barks at me as if I’ve done something unspeakable in her cheap handbag. ‘You’re at our table.’ A foul crime. It’s not the Spaniards but a fresh crowd. I’m startled. Just like a pushy mum volunteering at Brayden and Jayden’s Sport Day as a raker on the long jump pit she continues.


‘This is table number four. We’ve booked it.’ She’s right. I’ve trespassed onto her territory and am now in my own hellish episode of Border Security and it doesn’t appear good. I’ve no plausible story and my passport seems a forgery. In a back room, someone could be slipping on a glove with my name on it.


Eyes lowered, I scarper shamefully across to our correct table without knocking over chairs or spilling beverages.


And Claire’s back with round dos! And she has chips (crisps for those from Blighty). And as has been my life habit I either eat none or as many as my greedy mitts can grab. Like a good punk rock song, the bag’s done in about a hundred seconds.


Deep breaths taken, we speak of upcoming weekends away, theatre visits and Christmas. Heading to the stairs and the car, I should’ve nodded to the Spanish monologuist and said, ‘Feliz Navidad.’


But he was busy.



You can read more from Mickey Randall Here


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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

    Enjoyed this one Mickey. As usual, your attention to background scenic detail is meticulous however you also display the obvious benefits of your attendance at that recent “Introduction to the spark of surprise in your narrative 1A” seminar. The abrupt introduction of that aggrieved “haggard dirty blonde” and its sudden redirection of the energy of the whole story has an almost Dickensian twist about it. Great work.

    Elsewhere, it was a hard day to sort out votes but I eventually gave the three votes to the pushy mum with the rake in the long jump pit; two votes to the predictably one dimensional photocopier technician and one vote to that redoubtable geographer Ms Bogle.

    Looking forward to the next yarn in the series.


  2. Thanks RDL.

    As Dickens often said, ‘If you only get to the pub for an hour a week make it Friday afternoon.’ As JTH once said on this site, ‘Every time you go to the pub, there’s a story.’ As my wife has often said, ‘You should go to pub, you’re good at pub.’

    More importantly, I hope you backed the Geelong Cup winner, especially given its 30/1 odds!

  3. Earl O'Neill says

    $5 for a Squire? You must have taken a time machine back ten years.

    My local was quite a congenial place, until the new owners decided that the sun-filled airy bliss of the main bar would be better as a dark, dank gambling den. I may vent my feelings on that one day.

  4. Thanks Earl. Adelaide’s still home to a few of these gems that time forgot but they’re often hidden. As they’re pokies-free, our surf clubs are excellent and you know your cash is going to a good cause. Would love to read that vent!

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