The Joy of Tables

The Grand Canyon is mightily impressive. So is the Eiffel Tower. The best beach I’ve seen is Ko Lanta in Thailand, where the sand is soft and the water is azure blue and clear as glass.


I’ve been lucky to go on some amazing holidays and see some amazing sights.


I’ve just returned from a quick holiday to Kimba, on the state’s west coast, where the most captivating site wasn’t the Big Galah, but a succession of tables.


Yes, tables. Tables loaded with stories and laughter. Tables with old friends around them. Perfect.


And around these tables the best stories are the familiar ones; the ones you know as well as the back of your hands; the stories that make you smile instantly because you can recite the details and the dialogue like an old song, and you know how they finish and like a kid at Christmas you can hardly wait for the punchline, and then, when you hear it you roar, like a drain, but probably louder than you did the last time you sat at this table with these old friends.


Thanks to the tables I enjoyed in Kimba, Coffin Bay and Buckleboo. Golf club tables, pub tables, front deck tables, kitchen tables, coffee tables.


Breakfast tables, lunchtime tables, first beer of the day tables, BBQ tables, Saturday night and folks are getting rowdy tables.


The Crows are playing, but leave the tele off tables. The go on, text Mozz and check how old he is tables. The remember when Hen sprayed his opening drive at Port Augusta and went straight back to bed tables?


I love a table.


So, now I’m out the back at home, writing this, sitting at a table. The rain has stopped and above the vague traffic there’s birdsong and laughter from the kids in the house behind us.


I’m already thinking about the next time I sit round a table with old friends. Sometimes you don’t need a Thai beach, but just a welcoming table.



About Mickey Randall

Favourite film: The Shawshank Redemption Favourite song: Khe Sahn Favourite holiday destination: Gold Coast Favourite food: steak Favourite beer: VB Best player seen: Dogga Worst player seen: Frogga Last score on beep test: 3.14159 Favourite minor character in Joyce’s Ulysses: Punch Costello


  1. rabid dog says

    THIS is an example of MY favourite table:

    2003 Ladder

    1 Central District 20 16 4 0 2182 1287 62.90 32
    2 West Adelaide 20 15 5 0 2072 1678 55.25 30
    3 Sturt 20 13 7 0 2009 1563 56.24 26
    4 Woodville-West Torrens 20 12 8 0 1779 1663 51.69 24
    5 Port Adelaide Magpies 20 11 9 0 2027 1854 52.23 22
    6 Norwood 20 9 10 1 1729 1895 47.71 19
    7 South Adelaide 20 6 13 1 1853 2261 45.04 13
    8 Glenelg 20 5 15 0 1621 1997 44.80 10
    9 North Adelaide 20 1 17 2 1493 2567 36.77 4
    – See more at:

  2. DBalassone says

    Agreed Mickey. To me tables are a symbol of all that is good in life. Especially ones you can rest your elbows on with impunity. Coffin Bay is a paradoxical name for a place of such beauty.
    By the way, your profile picture reminds me of Barry Richards, and so when I read your writing, I’ve been hearing a South African accent all these years.

  3. rabid- given the Dogs’ dominance of that decade, how did you choose? Mind you as a Glenelg man I like the look of the table at the minute, as I’m sure you don’t!

    DB- while my photo maybe a bit Barry I’m sure my batting is more Keef. Coffin Bay is fantastic and in addition to the huge kangaroo population there’s lots of emus. My cousin told me he saw a couple swimming at Long Beach over Easter! The Swimming Emus- a rudimentary blues outfit, coming soon to a struggling pub near you.

    Thanks for the comments.

  4. Mathilde de Hauteclocque says

    Mickey, I’m so glad that this wasn’t a piece about spreadsheet type tables!
    We have always had a round table. The table my partner grew up around. And I love it.

  5. As an adult the first table I owned was purchased from my cricket captain for a six pack of Southwark bitter which we promptly drank around my new round table. Easily the best $3 I’ve spent. I relinquished the table about fifteen years later, with a tear in my eye!

    Thanks Mathilde. Rest assured, I’ll never reference a spreadsheet!

  6. Luke Reynolds says

    In full agreeance Mickey. Love a night spent with friends, sitting around a table.
    It’s just not the same sitting on the couches. The danger of me falling asleep rises dramatically whilst sitting on a couch with the fire roaring.

  7. Friends and family are invited to gather around the table while I usher diplomats and bank managers to the couch!

    Couches are for Saturday arvo naps such as the one I snuck in a few weeks’ back before awaking just in time to see Winx brain them again. Wonderful.

    However, couches are for individual relaxation while kitchen tables invite robust debate and throaty laughter. Music always sounds better around a table. The acoustics are better.

    Thanks Luke.

  8. DBalassone says
  9. DBalassone says

    Surely, there’s a song in this – someone must have already written it, Slim or Lee perhaps…

    The swimming emus,
    the emus that swim;
    come with me Mickey
    and sing my hymn
    to the resurrection at Coffin Bay
    where emus swim and children play.

  10. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Our first dining table (round, pine from The Whitewood Centre) was almost our undoing. Give me a good pivot table any day.

  11. John Butler says

    Mickey, thought you were going with a Postman Always Rings twice theme there for a minute.

  12. DB- love the “to the resurrection at Coffin Bay” line, especially as said incident happened on Good Friday, and I reckon John Williamson could be our man for this! But, I’m still struggling to marry “emu” and “swimming” and “ocean.”

    Swish- it is of enormous concern to me that upon reading your comment the following jingle immediately ran through my head- “The Whitewood Centre’s bursting at the seams with fine, pine furniture.” Granted it’s no “John H. Ellers” musical peak, but still serviceable.

    JB- I’m always up for some Jack Nicholson action although I prefer “Chinatown.”

    Thanks everyone.

  13. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Funny Mickey, I almost followed that with a redundant (bursting at the seams).

    For some reason that ad was often followed by a quick burst of “Lawlors, the white ant people”

  14. Here you go Swish (and others)
    With apologies to G & S

    “When I was a lad
    I served my term
    winding back the clocks
    for a used car firm.
    I covered up the rust with a coat of grey
    I fiddled with the steering of a Chevrolet”

    Chorus: “He fiddled with the steering of a Chevrolet”

    “I fiddled with the steering so very hard
    I soon became the owner of a used car yard”

    Chorus: “He fiddled with the steering so very hard
    he soon became the owner of a used car yard”

    “But now my yard is empty all day,
    people come but they all go away
    they go where used cars are the best
    where cars get over a hundred checks”

    Chorus: “Where cars get over a hundred checks”

    “With Ellers deals theres no use fighting
    ‘cos Ellers put the guarantees in writing”

    Chorus: “John Ellers deals you cannot fight
    Ellers put the guarantees in black and white” (oom pa, oom pa, oom pa pa)

  15. rabid dog says

    Micky Randall – I thought I was the only one autistic enough to know the wordsto the Ellers ads.!
    FOR YEARS I’ve been trying to remember all the words for the old AMSCOL footy colours ad (the one where Knuckles says: “All together, sweetly” – any thoughts?

  16. rabid dog- I also recollect the front page ad that Coopers (?) put out before Christmas each year that was a short story featuring puns using capitalised (?) names of prominent SANFL players such as “I turned on the LIGHT and went to the WINDOW and saw my TAYLOR walking up the path with the POPE.” Great stuff.

    I can’t recall the AMSCOL ads (might be a bit young!) but can’t imagine it equals Knuckles’ performance in the recent Noel’s Caravans TV ad in which he reminds me hauntingly of a young De Niro. This is a shame because my Unley Jets allegiance ensures any van I buy will come from Dave Benson Caravans.


    Superb Mickey and Rabs I remember the Amscol footy adds but yep struggling the words agree totally re the resemblance to Barry Richards definitely claim that Mickey

  18. “Sobremesa is a Spanish word that doesn’t translate well into English. Literally it means ‘on the table’, but really it refers to the tradition of lingering of lingering around for hours after the last bite of ice cream has been spooned and the last snifter of brandy sipped in order to soak up each other’s company and push the boundaries of family, friends, and fellowship.
    Sobremesa is a reminder that the Spanish dinner table is more than a table: it is a podium, a panel, a mirror, a microphone. This is where you discuss the problems of the country, lament the corrupt souls of politicians, share stories of your childhood, trade barbs with dining mates, wax nostalgically about paradises lost, and submit your world views to the scrutiny of the sated mob. This is not the coerced prattle of the American dinner table, where Dad asks son how his day in school went and Mom tries to fill the ensuing silence; this is where bonds are formed, decisions are made, happiness is secured, and dissidence fomented.”
    Matt Goulding – Grape, Olive, Pig
    Came across this reading a food/travel book on Spain this morning. Fits with all you say about the best traditions of the Australian rural table. We are off to Spain and Portugal in September. For the food. And the wine. And the cider. And the Sobremesa (if we can find someone speaking English). And because the Eagles play better in September with us away – and finals are best viewed on an IPad overlooking the Mediterranean – and losses more easily salved.

  19. “We drink Woody, Woody, Woooodroooofes,
    Coz the flaaaaa…ver,
    Laaaasts…… so long”
    (You can take the boy out of SA, but you can’t take SA out of the boy).

  20. ‘Book- I was probably more of a Golden North fan. Or whoever made honey icecream. Haircut tomorrow- number 2’s.

    PB- Sobremesa. That’s an enticing extract you’ve provided, and a nice piece of prose at that: “a podium, a panel, a mirror, a microphone.” Mediterranean folks have it sorted- family, food, vino, passion. I’ll be envious of you come September (travel not footy!)

    If I was still teaching I’d set a spelling test for first thing tomorrow morning and open with this: OK, let’s start with Woodroofe’s Sarsaparilla. That’s Woodroofe’s Sarsaparilla. Don’t forget the apostrophe.

  21. rabid dog says

    Book – the link is a dead ‘un.
    Peter B – I think it went the tune of the John Brown’s body (please note the apostrophe Mickey).
    Peter B/Mickey/Swish – Here’s a couple more (Rulebook, you know my appreciation for a good jingle).

    Woodies lemonade, mod ade
    for the modern generation
    Woodies lemonade, mod ade
    Still the best ade made.
    That cool clean taste
    with a real lemon tang
    High sparkle sparkle sparkle (fades to background)
    And I can;t remember the last line!

    (To a football chant);
    AMSCOL foot-y colours
    AMSCOL foot-y colours
    and so on…

    And the other AMSCOL footy colours ad – I can only remember the last lines, after Knuckles says: “all together, sweetly” There were 10 players sitting around a piano – Sony was the Centrals rep.

    Magpies warble, Roosters crow
    AMSCOL footy colours have get up and go.
    10 teams together and here’s a surprise
    AMSCOL footy colours will be in the five.

  22. Earl O'Neill says

    Seems I wasn’t the only one to think of a different sort of table…
    But you’re right, many of the great moments of my life have been around tables, talking, drinking, talking, eating, talking, smoking, talking some more.

  23. rabid dog- I think AMSCOL is trending on twitter right now (at least in the suburbs surrounding the Ponderosa).

    While we’re discussing footballers and advertising, any other Crows supporters get caught by Tippett flogging Balfours’ pies and pasties? So sure of Kurt leading us to glory that I bought my bodyweight in sausages rolls just before the 2012 preliminary final. They’re still in the freezer. Will post to any interested Swans fans .

    Earl- I reckon for many of us our fondest (adult) memories are anchored to tables.

  24. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Huge effort Rabs. Woodies were the jingle monarchs. I can neatly rattle off all of the Big Sars one, but can only recall snippets of the Woodies Wok tune as sung by Vinnie (“Wok it to me”)

  25. Loved it Mickey. Might have to get a plaque made up expressing such sentiments for the old family dining table.

  26. Love that big table at the North Fitzroy Arms.

    Our table isn’t filled often enough. It’s rare: made of floorboards.

  27. Swish- If Vinnie is the late great John then him singing a ditty about Woodies at, say, the Findon, would surely be the most South Australian thing ever. Dave Brown, your quest is over.

    Djlitsa- Grand aspirations there. One of my favourite Singaporean tables was at the Zion Food Centre, just outside near the river. After work during footy season I’d sit there with a Tiger and listen to the radio as the teams were announced. Occasionally, a thunderstorm would jolt me out of my little bubble of home and remind me where I was.

    JTH- I look forward to that North Fitzroy Arms table soonish. However, I also enjoyed sitting with Perce at one of the small front bar ones as he devoured a steak and held court.

    The Kimba Golf Club table is a massive round affair which can seat at least a dozen folks. I observed the dynamic the other night and reckon that King Arthur was right. After the triumphs and humiliations of 18 holes, a round table is best for all.

  28. Mickey – I get the affinity with a good table. When I was growing up we sat around an old, round mahogany table that had become warped because it spent the first 50 years of its life next to a huge open fire in a farmhouse at Baddaginnie. Eight of us fit tightly around it. But, strangely, if we had a guest or guests for dinner, it seemed to magically expand to fit everyone in. I reckon that table has had a remarkable life.

  29. Punxsu..and-the-rest-of-it Pete says

    Love a card game at a table with mates. And telling stories at a table always add something to it. You get to work all the people in a way you couldn’t it other settings.

    Lovely stuff Mickey

    PS Any kids reading this, a bit of advice: when playing 21, always play the banker. Everyone gets to bust before you do. The odds are stacked in your favour (and I’m writing this from my yacht!)

  30. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Yep Mickey, it was that Vinnie.

  31. Great stuff, Mickey.
    Some beautiful observations.
    The table is the centre of the home, in many ways.

  32. McAlmanac says

    As a district cricket scorer for many years, my day was often made or broken by the quality of the table. A wobbly trestle table with a bowed top would make the day very long. I had a much loved card table with faux timber laminate that was particularly valuable in C Grade where some grounds were table-less.

  33. Simply put. I love this notion.

  34. Dips- the table you describe would be a nominee for the Table Hall of Fame.

    PP- ah yes, cards. Does/Has anyone actually ever played cards at a card table?

    Thanks Swish. I was pretty sure it was JV. His legend grows.

    Cheers Smokie. I reckon you’ve likely enjoyed some Willy cricket and footy tables in your time!

    McAlmanac- the relationship between the quality of the cricket scoring experience and the quality of the table is a delicate one. I reckon there’d be a subtle yarn of two in cricket scoring. I recall a story about a country cricket grand final in which Team A initially won a close match, but with some subsequent doubt and then many hours of scrutiny, the books (of course these didn’t agree) ultimately suggested victory belonged to Team B.

    Thanks Dave H and everyone else.

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