It made me consider in the current West Australian boom and epoch of the ≈$10 pints could the Pub Round, a fundamental component of Australian culture and endowment to our national fibre be in jeopardy. I wondered who else out there has curbed engaging the great Aussie tradition of doing rounds over exorbitant pub prices, or eschewed the pub altogether for take-outs and lolly-water nightly television.
Our society’s current vilification of alcohol consumption is highlighted daily in the press and evidenced by recent coverage of Grant Hackett’s publicised domestic troubles with the bottle – antagonised by Channel 7 and Channel 9’s farcical rivalry in relation to Hackett’s contractual obligations to the Nine Network.
In the penumbra of our current culture’s obsession with drink driving, binge drinking and subsequent antisocial behaviour there seems little recourse for complaint or arena for debate. Because criticism or protest over immoderate prices will invariably be smothered by supercilious contempt that at least the exorbitant prices invariably prevent people drinking to excess.
Perpetual coverage over drinking bein some new antisocial trend is as old as booze and way more tedious, and has people forgetting that drinking booze is actually very social. And no one has considered present drinking habits might be a systemic result from the fact we don’t get any fukn change from a tenner when buying a pint – encouraging us to sink into a night at the pub to forget this fact so when you wake in the morning you don’t contemplate you’d just spent a vacation in Bali.
We seem to justify the legality of booze like giving a bag of sweets to kids,
‘I’ll let you have the bag as long as you promise not to eat them all at once.’
Governments coffer the treasury with alcohol tax to pay for education advertising campaigns to deter us from drinking, while indigent students and graduates earn a wage while bettering their minds. And policemen get paid to tail me home from the local pub and salivate over castigating me that my legal limit will rise from an RBT, and I should factor in the distance I have to drive home, and blah, blah, blah. Aldous Huxley makes the erudite observation in Doors of Perception:
‘That humanity at large will ever be able to dispense with Artificial Paradises seems very unlikely. Most men and women lead lives at the worst so painful, at the best so monotonous, poor and limited that the urge to escape, the longing to transcend themselves if only for a few moments, is and has always been one of the principal appetites of the soul… The problems raised by alcohol and tobacco cannot, it goes without saying, be solved by prohibition. The universal and ever-present urge to self-transcendence is not to be abolished by slamming the currently popular Doors in the Wall. The only reasonable policy is to open other, better doors in the hope of inducing men and women to exchange their old bad habits for new and less harmful ones.’
If the integral Aussie custom of doing rounds is being diminished by usury and pontificating gloomsayers, how is it affecting our younger generation? Are they even acquainted with this iconic ritual of Australian generosity, bonhomie, coercion and intimidation in an era where the $50 is the new $20 ?
In response to the demise of this endangered and defenceless cultural pass time we need to recall and celebrate the awesome era when the Reibey-Flynn was supreme – when pints of VB were five bucks!
When its thin red polymer bill in your pocket imbued your flares and stonewash with fiscal peace of mind.
When it assured you four pints of domestic swill.
When it was a round with your three best mates (and guaranteed three in return).
When it was a grand midweek session.
And when it had the value and mettle to get you by on a weekend night when you were skint
As I write this down at my local we’re enjoying a double demerit point public holiday and the Pure Blonde comely chickets have just arrived to dispense free samples of their new insipid brew. I’ve already downed my arrival pint so I order a half – which at $5.20 is way more than half my $9.50 pint.
While this pricing discrepency generally discourages me from ordering half pints, the Government’s inflated taxes on alcopops are undoubtely encouraging the youth to employ basic arithmetic and realise there’s way more mileage in buying a couple of bottles of hard liquor and mixer than a four pack of travellers. And still no one addressed why two six packs cost almost the same as a slab.
In this time of ornery and fissiparous contrariness, perversity, absurdity and hypocrisy what’s so destructive about occasionally celebrating our enfeebled cultural identity that is irrevocably entwined to the amber suds.
Even our former prime minster Bob Hawke, who once set a world record for imbibing 2.5 imperial pints (1.4 litres) is still up for the challenge – so why aren’t you?
So I propose we stop the cultural decay of the sacred Australian ablution that is the Pub Round and mark next Friday 6th July as an annual holiday to celebrate When Twenty Bucks Was King.
So in the post-party embers of Independence Day in the USA (add a few days more for Canada Day,) lets unite the grand holiday,
When Twenty Bucks Was King, along with the 14th Dalai Lama’s birthday, the Cayman Island’s Constitutional Day, Day of the Capital in Kazakhstan, Republic Day in Malawi, Lithuania’s Statehood Day and Jan Jus Day in Czech Republic.
To celebrate When Twenty Bucks Was King all that is required is for you to head down to the local with you mates. Forget that Todd now drinks the primo expensive red by the glass, while Angus sticks to light, Dave is always batting a round ahead on a hard hitting IPA, and Lucas capitulates to middies at the same time Jason hits the bourbon – and go toe-to-toe, round-for-round like the old days.
And just so it feels like the old days (a mere decade and a half ago) when twenty bucks was king it is advisable to bring four more twenty bucks note along.