Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Death of a pub.

When I'm dead, cremate me and spread my ashes over the front bar.

To the hard drinking, the death of a pub can come as a tremendous blow.

The other day, while driving through North Fitzroy, I noticed the Recreation Hotel (formerly The Old Homestead Inn) was up for sale; to be replaced by “executive apartments”*.

The Old Homestead and I go back a great many years. If I had a dollar for each hour I’ve spent there; drinking, laughing with friends, meals, birthdays, flirting with the barmaid and playing pool I’d have a shitload of money to spend drinking, laughing with friends, meals, birthdays, flirting with the barmaid and playing pool – only this time at another hotel.

The Old Homestead is the latest in a number of hotels in the inner city to close and be replaced with apartments; a development I regard with some concern and not just because it limits my capacity to intake perfectly legal, mind-numbing intoxicants.

Pubs were important to the development of a civil culture in Melbourne. Political parties and trade unions were formed there, sporting clubs and friendly societies used them as meeting rooms and any number of bands (a great number of them truly awful) played their first gig in a Melbourne pub.

When they go, what replaces them**?

Drive out through any of the new housing estates being built on the outskirts of Melbourne and you won’t find a single corner pub. You won’t find much in the way of corner milk-bars, newsagents, fish and chip shops or phone boxes either, but that’s not the point. If you’re lucky, you might find a licensed establishment in one of the shopping centres but that’s not the same as the local boozer you can drop in for quite ale after work or walk to with the family for a Sunday afternoon roast.

Of course, many of the old corner pubs were appalling blood-houses but most were a way of catching up with friends and neighbours for a consoling beer.

Good-bye Old Homestead. I’ll miss you.

And may the new inhabitants of the “executive apartments” to be built on its site be haunted by the souls of a hundred years of noisy drunks.

* No, I don’t know what “executive apartments” are either but they sound ghastly.

** People who say “social media” can fuck off right now.


Lewd Bob said...

spread my ashes over the front bar.

Remind me to wash my hands before ordering a bowl of chips.

Kettle said...

That sucks (the pub closing, not Bob washing his hands).

I've been reading about Malcolm Gladwell's 'tipping point' idea lately; what a shame it can have both negative consequnces (influx of executives moving into executive wanker apartments = gentrification = increased fuckwittage ratio = all the interesting places (pubs, op shops) close) as well as positive ones.

You know, the only good thing the current NSW Labor govt has done is bring in cheaper, less restrictive liquor licences. Small bars/pubs (with live music) are opening all over the Inner West.

You just need an incompetent Labor govt in Victoria, Ramon, and that should reverse The Old Homestead closure pattern.

Lewd Bob said...

You just need an incompetent Labor govt in Victoria

You just missed them.

Anonymous said...

There was a time that I used to love the atmosphere of a worker's hotel: A bunch of people casually sitting around, having a beer and a yarn, the odd game of pool and the odd bit of biffo; ponies silently running around on a little telly behind the bar and counter meals that came with real vegetables rather than Birds-Eye-Country-Mix or wanky little salads. But those places were dying off even before I stopped going out. By that time, they were all refashioning themselves as night-clubs or "Irish" pubs, and it was damn near impossible to find a place on a Friday or Saturday night that didn't have the lights turned down to the point that you couldn't see who you were talking to and the music turned up to the point that it didn't matter. For a while, I decried it as a stupid mistake, but I don't think it was. I think maybe I just got old. I got old and my demographic stopped being profitable; because going after young people - and those who still want to be young people - is where you make your money*. Social media is indeed where it's at now. Ah well, nothing lasts forever as they say.

*Unless you're going after pensioners by installing half a square mile of pokie machines

Dr. Golf said...

Coffee shops are the new pubs. But one day soon people will start to go "hmm, I really love hanging out in this coffee shop, but wouldn't it be great if they sold beer, then I could get drunk and talk some shit". And the circle will be complete.

Dr. Golf said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
eat my shorts said...

counter meals that came with real vegetables rather than Birds-Eye-Country-Mix or wanky little salads.

Sounds like the place mum & dad took me to for tea last night.

I had garlic prawns that came with rice AND chips.

Fricking awesome. Christ knows why I wanted to move to London.

Anonymous said...

Please don't tease, EMS. Most of the shops around here haven't reopened since the flooding and the only place selling fresh produce is Subway. I travelled an hour to have a proper home-cooked meal the other day.

eat my shorts said...

That sucks dogs balls, Alex (hehe, I first typed that accidentally as god's balls).

Hope things have improved since you posted that comment.

Anonymous said...

It sucks god's balls mightily, EMS. I made another food pilgrimage today. On the way, I got harassed by a junky who wanted money "for the bus".

shitbmxrider said...

The only 'pubs' that seem to be open up my way in the Outer North(Mill Park) all seem to be going after the pensioner dollar, with acreage of pokies as far as the eye can see.

So, I refuse to go there, then find myself spending $80 on a cab to get home.

Cunts. Ahh well, only 6 months till I move to town properly.