Tuesday is my first Friday, but it’s rarely a crazy affair. Wednesday is dinner date night. Thursday and Friday are solid work days at the Watchman, cranking out yarns and scouring the streets for gossip. Then, it’s Friday again. What to do?
The absence of nightclubs and a few pubs that insist on calling last drinks at about 10 can inhibit the loss of inhibitions. But, the clever country folk won’t compromise on their alcoholic ways. There is always somewhere to drink.
School fetes, for instance offer more than bric-a-brac out here. Children will still tear around the playground with snow-cone addled brains knocking over anyone in their path, but the adults are offered special red cordial and the night becomes a social gathering. I’ve never seen a fete like the one I went to on Friday night. Three vodka lemonades hit the back pocket like a butterfly at just $12. The first ghost in the haunted house had an air compressor that he sprayed everyone in the face with. The next guy had the creepiest horse head you’ve every seen. Screams whistled around the streets for hours. Usually there’s also a yabbie race, but at this fete the patrons were deemed too drunk to gamble on crayfish.
When a significant dent was made in the bar’s stock the jumping castle became a freeforall. The twenty-somethings who had happily returned to school on a Friday night tried to reclaim their youth with king-of-the-castle antics. A fair few adults lumbered off the castle clutching various body parts and swearing about knee injuries. A few of the more ambitious kids ended up in tears.
It wasn’t just stressed parents and bric-a-brac enthusiasts that ambled along either. A fair proportion of the crowd were young and all seemed to think the school fete a thoroughly worthy social event. Which it was.
In the middle of the fete I wandered down to an art exhibition opening and had a nice yarn to the artist Julie Latcham. She’s pushing the envelope with new-age patchwork installations. She told me she’d never date a man with smoother hands than her own.
That’s just your average Friday. Then on Saturday it’s a two-hour drive to anywhere for some country races. They can make the fetes look like child’s play.
Fancy clothes, oh yes we do fancy clothes out here. Wine, champagne, XXXX and rum cans are put away with a momentum that even outstrips the time it takes for heels sink into the mud. Bets are laid with the local bookies and crowds flock to the fence to see the local kick up the dust. It’s an interesting affair when you know the local trainers and jockeys and can barrack for someone you shared a Chinese meal with a few weeks ago. The party usually continues well after the steeds are back in the stables. When the band strikes its first chord, it’s on for young and old. The men twirl you out here, so you’re likely to get a nice spin and a dip on the dirt dancefloor. You can camp in your swag that night, if you want to.
Of course, the cricket interrupted my race meet yesterday. A few photos and chats with the wags offered a relaxing respite from the horsing at the racetrack.
Then today, Sunday, it’s bowls. You can read about the shenanigans that go on at a bowls carnival here. With an esky stationed at each lane to avoid pesky trips back to the bar, the banter can escalate. The men were in fine form today. One oldie busted out some Gangnam style moves while another offered to check my breasts for lumps next weekend at the breast cancer bowls night. One bowler remarked that keeping up with the social schedule was bad news for his liver. Such is life in the southwest.
Occasionally I am treated to a campdraft. That means watching horsey folk cut out steers and chase them around barrels. It’s quite entertaining for the first few rounds. However the dust and country music can see a moderate hangover switch to high alert rather quickly. Luckily they usually serve hot chips and a hair of the dog.
Then Sunday night arrives. I liken it to Monday morning. The photos and scrawled notes must be translated into something that looks more like a newspaper story than a torn, scribbled notepad that somehow always manages to smell like rum. Then Monday and Tuesday roll around and the weekend begins again.