Friday, August 22, 2008

Tasmanian History - From Lyn Sturzakers Soup 83 to the Victoria Tavern 02

While it's been a pretty lousy week for the state, what with the lousy won't let Darryl Lee have purple chocolate or bring back the DMC even though the public demands it company Cadburys sacking everyone, and the loss of the Devils, but I was stoked (and proud) to read about a doco that's going to be on SBS - starting next Wednesday at 8pm - called Alive and Kicking which has nothing to do with Simple Minds (so dated...so so dated) but is a doco about local pride (hooray!) and footy clubs in Queenstown (which if you don't know has a public liability defying gravel oval), King Island, Woodsdale and Beaconsfield. I obviously will watch every episode - the first episode seems entirely devoted to fundraising efforts, which I love - and I'm stoked as well that today I found a massive stack (well, about 6) of vintage NTFL and NWFU footy records from the early 80s - I love reading the club notes about the early 80s functions, particularly Devonports fund raising soup luncheon at Lyn Sturzakers house (15 Ashburner Street if you wish to start a memorial tour of early 80s Tassie) and Penguins raffle with deserving winners (eh? Surely a raffle is dumb luck? Unless they bought 200 of 201 tickets why are they deserving? I'd love to know what Terry "The Tipster" Morris thought of such a comment) - I even love the advert on the back for the Flexboard Sunwall Fence, which sensibly asks "what more could you want in a fence!" - what more indeed? I think Penguin was full of people of more proud of their fence than their children, so I can see this as key advertising in 1983. In fact, every time I walked past this one bloke, he'd just say to me "Fence is a beauty!" and I'd go "Yeah! Sure is!" and then go and get a pikelet...yes, we didn't have no Internet but...

So I was in town (which obviously for anyone in the South of Tassie means I was in Hobart) today, and I was stuck for things to do, I thought maybe I can do and egg Scott Wades house or look up old copies of the Mercury in the library or get ripped off by that really weird shop that sells UK chocs for about 20 bucks a bar (god I got burned there bad once). I thought about having lunch in Central, but I mostly wandered around JB Hifi avoiding sales pressure, and then I found in my wallet a business card for the Victoria Tavern pub. The Vic Tav is in Murray Street, and I have no idea why I have a business card for the place - I haven't been there since my heavy drinking days of 2002. In those days, they had the classic Aussie pub promotion, the Jokers Jackpot. It was so convoluted, you basically had no chance of winning, but it worked along the lines that if you had the barmaid pick your raffle ticket out you got to pick a card and if you picked a Joker out of a pack of cards and you didn't see it and then withstood the patter of an MC who had gone to the Emdur school of charm who offered you prizes instead of sticking to your card and...oh it went on forever, basically you had no chance of winning, to cut a long story short, but we went every week just in case we won a minor prize (like tickets to a Melbourne game, a super minor prize). Brilliantly though, twice our little group won the meattray (I suspect it was rigged, and we won for good attendance) and if you have not seen a group of drunken twenty somethings trying to divvy up a meat-tray at 2 in the morning, you haven't seen Hobart at it's finest. It was poetic the first time, strangers sitting in the rain helping us out as we decided who deserved the chop and who was stuck with the stringy mince. Anyway, eventually someone won on a night we didn't go, when it was down to three cards and I haven't been back on a regulat basis since, maybe a couple of times. So this isn't the most up to date pub review so tourists, take it as a dated guide...but let me think a little bit, while Lyn Sturzaker makes me some tasty soup...

My main memories of the Vic Tav are that it's a bit like The Central - somewhere to go and meet, not somewhere to stay. It's certainly wasn't somewhere to pick up - it's pretty small, and any kind of flirtacious banter can be heard by everyone, and widely ridiculed. In fact, if you tried to pick up with a "hey baby!" chances are some footballer type will cut your lunch, so to speak. One of my friends, who's basically a go getter, the exact opposite to me, had quite a cute girl hit on him at the Vic Tav and, because he's a go getter, starting working in patter to try and sell her a home loan - well, it swept through the pub in about ten seconds, and several footballers in the corner really, really wanted to bash him - we had to vacate the premises, as through Chinese Whispers, we think the footballers thought he said he'd sleep with her if she took out a home loan, and if there's one thing footballers hate, it's forced third party selling. I know from memory, it was one of those places where everyone thought they had a chance with the barmaids because "she took me phone number Boofa" (I more than anything want a friend called Boofa - one of my friends has a friend called Dogger, which is equally great - but having a friend called Boofa surely gets you into any footy club function in Tasmania) - however, yes, she did take your phone number, but it was to put it in their marketing book and send you text messages with promotional information. If that book was sold on E-bay, you could start a business contact list the length and breadth of Tasmania. The barmaids were pretty cute, especially the one with the crimped hair, and from memory used to dress like ye olde serving wenches in corsets and so on - they didn't like people asking for mead, but I thought it was gold - and what I can say about the place is, if you want to hide from someone, an ex, a friend who's dating someone you hate (oh, for instance) or just that pesky stalker, you should hide in the Vic Tav - no one ever thinks to look there. I know this from experience. If you hide at the Telegraph even, slumped in the couches cowering, you are generally found, but the Vic Tav? It's like camoflauge...

I haven't heard anyone mention the Vic Tav for ages though, so I can only presume that the spirits are still super cheap (if you like basic spirits, and I really mean basic) and I don't know if the place is even open now, or what is going on there. The last time I even heard about the place in any kind of advertising forum was a few years ago when they were promoting, and I quote, Coyote Ugly night. Now, if you don't remember Coyote Ugly, it was a Piper Perabo (now as culturally relevant as Matthew Lokan) film about girls finding empowerment through dancing on the bar, or summat. I am stunned to this day, a) that there was a decision to base any kind of theme night on a Piper Perabo film and b) we as a group never went. I hate strip clubs as a general rule, but I've been in the Mens Gallery (brilliantly, one of my friends was turfed out of the place for wearing inappropriate shoes, but a bloke with a skullet with his shirt wide open was straight on through) because I have one or two mates who are keen on that kind of gubbins (it's a certainty by the way that strippers loathe you, like the girls who work at Boost Juice) and I'm amazed I never got a text to go to Coyote Ugly night - I'm also amazed that it was never raised any kind of feminist ire, so maybe there wasn't any actual skanky bar top dancing, maybe they just all sang Can't Fight The Moonlight. And why if they wanted to have a night based on crappy movies didn't they have Cop and A Half night (yes! twice!). And I've just remembered, it was still open a few weeks ago. I was walking for a cab and a girl who was beautiful in the dark was standing outside the Vic Tav, and she shouted across the road "Hey! Evanaguidnight!" to which I said "Yeah, how about you?" and she said "Fuckinfingshutat9atnight, haven't you got a wicked accent mayte!" - you see the Vic Tav was shut by 9pm, she was being drunk and flirty, and oh, the beautiful friendship we could have had in Warrane, if only I hadn't just found a cab...

So there you go tourists - great hiding spot, hot barmaids, bogans outside, the chance to win meat...what more could you want? Well, some of Lyn Sturazkers delicious soup for one...

4 comments:

Jack Dorf said...

It was poetic the first time, strangers sitting in the rain helping us out as we decided who deserved the chop and who was stuck with the stringy mince.

The harsh realities of life are always the most enlightening.

Miles McClagan said...

Definitely, especially the person who gets the stringy mince - you have to take it with dignity...

Kath Lockett said...

Beautiful stuff, Miles, just beautiful.

Miles McClagan said...

Thanks mate, it was all inspired by Lynn Sturzaker and her wonderful soup!