Memoirs of a bar fly (Part 1)

The smell of the place hadn’t changed in over 60 years, that awful mixture of stale beer, sweat and cigarette smoke, I should know I have been visiting O’Reilly’s Pub for the majority of my life, heck every major event in my life has revolved around this pub in one way or another.

I can still remember the feeling of fear and excitement as at the age of 16 I was snuck into the main bar by my dad. Walking through those doors was to have a major effect on my life, even if I didn’t realise it at the time. As I walked in directly behind my dad I was struck by the smell, it was like hitting a wall. That oh so familiar smell was foreign to me at the time, but i was to grow to feel that smell as the smell of home. The smell still brings back the image of that first day, dad and I pushing our way to a corner table, I couldn’t believe the room could hold so many people, it was worse then the peak hour tram, but I was suprised to see that everyone of them knew dad by name. Dad had never given any indication that he had known more then a handful of people, yet here was direct evidence that he had in fact been living a separate life, one which was to become my inheritance.

At the table we found Ken and Dave, dads best friends and drinking mates. Dad went to the bar and bought a round, and it was then that the moment occured that provides me with my strongest and favourite memory of that day, my first taste of beer. To be honest I could not see what the attraction was at first, how did all these men get enjoyment out of drinking this sour liquid, however by my third the alcohol had kicked in and the attraction became clearer although my head didn’t. This was the day I became a man, well at least in my fathers eyes, but I had still felt out of place at the time, not a man but no longer a boy, trapped in that limbo of the late teen.

This had been my drinking hole before being shipped off to war, good times when the beer, bullshit and laughter all flowed freely. To this day I have not had better friends then the ones I had at that time, not yet weighed down by life’s burden we young men lived large and truly. I had drunk with those that made it on their return, but for some there was no return, and for those of us that did we were forever changed, somehow more sombre, the heavy burden of life had already been shackled to us. I truly hope that the things we did and saw no man will ever have to do or see again.

Every Anzac day ended here for 2-up and drinks. It is the one day of the year that I allow myself to remember the fallen, but more important it is a time to remember the good times spent with them in better times. It is the good times that I choose to dwell on and so I can be seen every Anzac day sitting in the corner with a pot in hand and grinning like a Cheshire cat. When asked what is so amusing, I always reply with “better days, that’s all”.

Memoirs of a bar fly (Part 1)

David Haviland

Southport, Australia

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Artist's Description

Inspired by the site of an old man in the doorway of a pub.

Still I work in progress but thought I would put it out for feedback and critique.

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