The pub with no bears

“Hey dude, can you put your phone away?”, my friend said to the bloke in the cinema in front of us yesterday. There weren’t a lot of people in the cinema: only us, another woman, and the bloke who was there with his mum, so it’s not as if he didn’t know who she was talking to. His dismissive reply was “Yeah, whatever”.

Thankfully, he did put his phone away, though it was probably because his mum told him to, not because my friend had yelled out to him.

“When I’m at home, I’ll use my phone while I’m watching a movie, but never in a cinema”, my friend said.

For this bloke it wasn’t even a generational thing, as he looked as if he was in his 30/40s. But it does seem like there’s a whole bunch of people who failed to “get the memo” about phone use, or even watch the opening credits at the cinema where they tell you to turn off your phone. “Nobody seems to say sorry anymore”, we both agreed.

We were at the cinema seeing the new Austrlian film, “The Dry”. Though my friend had read the book, I hadn’t, and really only knew very little about the film, aside from that it was set in a country town at the height of the drought, and that it starred Eric Bana.

(No spoilers!) Eric Bana plays a 40-something man who grew up in the small town, but who has been living and working as a member of the Australian Federal Police, based in Melbourne. In the film, he’s returning to the town for a funeral, the apparent result of a murder-suicide situation. At first, it’s thought it’s the result of drought-related financial difficulties, as has often been the case in many areas. However, the story takes a different turn, as his skills as a police officer/investigator are brought to the story. The film also goes back to an earlier story about the death of a young woman in the community. Everyone in this country town seems to have a “hidden story”, it seems. (For the rest, you’ll have to see the film).

We both enjoyed the film: it was beautifully shot, with terrific writing, acting and directing.

It was also great to catch up with my friend who I haven’t seen since before Christmas.

It’s actually been a fairly “social” week, which has included catching up with a friend who has returned home from living in Dublin for the last twelve years. He’s going back, by the way.

His first couple of weeks in Australia were spent in isolation in Adelaide. Thankfully, he had a balcony, and thus found the experience of spending two weeks in a hotel was fairly reasonable. “Really, it wasn’t too bad, especially after what we’ve been through in Dublin”, he said, noting they’ve been in lockdown for most of the last year. “The pubs and clubs have been closed since March”, he added. While our daily diagnosis rate is close to zero most of the time, the Irish have been coping with up to 3,000 cases per day.

I also caught up with some friends for coffee and cake on Friday afternoon. “This is one of the great things about working from home”, we all agreed, the fact we could catch-up on a weekday at reasonably short notice at one of our local coffee shops. Any other time, we would be struggling to find a suitable time on the weekend. But as the coffee shop is only a few hundred metres from home, it was easy to organise.

And then on Friday night, I went for a drink at a couple of pubs on Oxford Street. It was interesting to see how they were getting on.

Universal (formerly The Midnight Shift) was fairly busy, and they actually had a drag show.

Kinselas, on the other hand, was quiet to middling. For the last few years, Kinselas has been the Friday night home of “Sydney Bears”.

“Bears” is a gay community sub-culture. Though the name might imply they’re all a bit “hairy” (beards, chests, backs!), the term covers a broader collection of people who could be older, could be overweight etc. There’s even a couple of trans people who regularly attend. It’s probably more of a life-stage and mindset, than a physical thing. I quite like going to their events, though they haven’t been happening since about March last year. As I looked around I noted most of the crowd is still turning up, even if there’s no “official event”.

“It’s the pub with no bears”, I (rather clevely, I thought) messaged a friend.

Author: James O'Brien

Born / Currently : Lismore / Widjabul Wia-Bal - Bundjalung Live : Sydney / Gadigal - Eora Also : Brisbane, Bourke, Renmark, Wagga, Perth Pronouns : He/him/his.

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