Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Finding a New Local: Day Three

Summing up Eleanor and I's experiences at the Southern Sports Bar & Grill proved to be too much for just one person, so this post is a special edition with a guest commentary by Ellie, followed by my own experiences. First, Eleanor's write-up:  

Some quests are long, others are dangerous, and ours has been boozy, expensive and strenuous. We have had to rustle up companions, flirt with stony barmen and defend ourselves from bored, middle-aged Duke of Wellington patrons. But our quest has not been in vain – a new local has been found.

Having just returned from Allans Beach we were suitably sweaty, sandy and parched to feel it was time for the Southern. That ugly building at the bottom of my street, right across from Natural History New Zealand, totally lacking in aesthetic charm.

We enter and I wonder if it is bingo night – will the prize be a meat pack? We are a good 40 years younger than the average patrons, but find their eyes curious, rather than suspicious, when they turn our way. We order some malty Speight’s and as we take a seat three platters of food appear before us: buttered white bread, fries, samosas and spring rolls.
“Get into it girls,” says one of the grey nomads, dressed in a coarse woollen sweater and sensible trousers.
“It’s for everyone”
We demure; we are new, inexperienced, young.
“Have a chip sandwich while they’re hot” says another, with a smile and a kind nod. We have died and gone to Milton heaven.

Free food, friendly locals and cheap pints? We call in reinforcements.
“Lem!” I say breathlessly down the phone to my poor friend, still stuck at NHNZ HQ. “ You have to come. We suspect we have found our local”.
Within minutes Lem appears, as does Quinn, and like old hands they order a jug - each. It’s Happy Hour now and jugs are $8.50, Radiohead is playing and our tummies are lined with grease.  My hair is wild, my shoes are dirty and my face is bare. But the Southern doesn’t care. It embraces you just as you are. 
- Ellie 

My experiences: 

I have several friends who have had cause to hear something I said, or to just look at me, and exclaim that I was a spoilt princess. Indeed, I do often demand a perfectly poured gin and tonic at inopportune moments, and I will complain about incompetent help. They're supposed to be helping after all. 

Keeping this in mind, Ellie and I had held off going to 'the Southern' until now and instead attended fairly upmarket versions of what 'a local' can mean. From outside, this local looks like the kind of place frequented by depressed, old alcoholics, their long suffering spouses and gambling addicts. I was ready to find it fairly grim. 

Beforehand, Ellie and I made derisive jokes and braced ourselves. Looking at my windswept hair (beach walk), old woolen top and swandri jacket, Ellie noticed, with perhaps a touch of envy, "you look more working class than me today, you'll have a better time fitting in." 

The truth was, neither of us 'fitted in', but it wasn't our bratty, bougie ways which drew attention, but rather the fact we are not gold-card holding members of the retired community or bus drivers from across the road, having an after-work (we hope) pint. 
More importantly, it didn't matter one bit

A group of bus drivers and their buddies were heckling us and our obvious tourist status: "what's with your camera?" one man questioned me, leaning in with a suspicious look on his face. I told him we were documenting the place, since we're on the search for our new local. "Well, you've found it now haven't you?" he said gruffly and then laughed with his friends, and us. 

When that same group left at the 1967 appropriate time of six pm, the heckler turned to us and shouted across the bar: "here next Friday night?" 

He left without waiting for a reply. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Finally! Irrefutable evidence of ghosts

Alternate title for this post: I attempt to begin using my Opa's old tripod and mostly fail at it.

In any case, it was a dark and freezing night, when several of my friends and I went on a ginger-wine fueled wander around the Southern Cemetery (connected to the Northern Cemetery but a band of forest so the spirits can walk between without disturbing the living).

Watching over this one grave, weird things started to appear ...

Later, Allen made his presence known ...

We shivered and downed more ginger wine, hoping to keep warm and fend off the encroaching terrors. It's nothing we say, it's just the light, the moon, the strange way shadows can fall. We stumbled out of the grave yard, carefully not turning back.

icy blast continues

Winter in Dunedin is famously cold and harsh, but it's also kind of romantic. It's a good time for scotch or mulled wine, snuggling cats and sitting by fires. Or going out with your idiot friends and watching the mid-winter carnival. Lucky me, I got to stand beside my English surgeon friend who gave me a very British running commentary/ review on the parade, from a very cynical and unimpressed perspective. Bless. In any case, it was actually quite beautiful. And as my much less cynical friend Leigh said, when we live in a place this cold, we need to sometimes get pagan on that shit and actually worship it a bit.

Unicorn! Anyway, aside from being near Antarctica (I know, I go on about it), we're also a kind of derelict little town and I felt this keenly on my brisk, icy walk home, breath coming out in steamy clouds.

Speaking of steamy, look at these unceremoniously dumped romantic novels.

And what I like to think of as the world's most depressing 'Hotel.' Drive in indeed (I'd rather die).

So then I scurried home past the various half-way homes and backpackers dens, put on the heat-pump and read about elsewhere. xoxo 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Finding a New Local: Day Two

To celebrate with Eleanor, we decided to make day two of our mission the Duke of Wellington, which is rather upmarket for a 'local.' You'd think, except our whisky macs (scotch and ginger wine) were only $9, which is great for two types of liquor in one!

The place was packed with old gentlemen who looked like they work as lawyers and like to discuss stock rates and prostitutes over their boutique British beers. We were literally the only women on the ground floor - there were a couple of ladies hidden away upstairs. It all felt awfully middle eastern.

Then we posed with paintings of victorious battles and toasted the Queen.

Also, I love chandeliers.