Erroll’s Prawn Night.

The “Pub Gathering” was interesting , if for all the other things, the Hotel where it was held. I have “history” with that establishment…lesser so than my old “alma puttana” ; The Seacliff Hotel…it was There that I forged an alliance (however accidental) with Beelzebub!….ahh!..the “demon drink” did for all us youth in THAT den of iniquity!

But beside that, the three hotels that formed a triangle in the suburbs there (nick-named ; “The Pollywaffle Triangle” as a foil to “The Iron Triangle” of Spencer Gulf) ; The Esplanade, The Brighton and The Seacliff, had thriving membership to their respective “Sports and Social Clubs”….mind you, speaking for the members of the Seacliff Club (of which I was not a member ref ; Groucho Marx and ‘clubs HE would not join!’..but I was quite familiar with those said members), while I would not for a moment doubt their capacity to “socialise” with hard liquour, their capacity for sport of any kind was limited to “elbow bending” and channel surfing with the remote….and I am reminded of a Nelson Algren story (“The Captain is a card”) where the Captain of police asks a suspect why he was running a house of ill repute:

“It wasn’t a brothel, it was a sports and social club” the reprobate defended…
“So who were the scantily dressed women?” the capt’ asks…
” They were the social part” the man replies…
“Oh that’s good” the Capt’ says ” For a moment I thought you were going to tell me they were lady wrestlers!”

But besides that, the three hotels thought it good fellowship to join in a joint-hosting program where they would take turns, once a month, to host the other’s social club for dining at their premises. This went on for a while till a small mishap involving Errol “the drunk” and member of the Seacliff club. I heard it from Mark, a fellow imbiber at that hallowed trough….

“So how come the event was cancelled ?” I asked.
“It wasn’t cancelled, it’s just the Seacliff has been banned for the near future from participating.”
“Why…what’s the dirt?”
“Errol!”…..Mark’s eyes lowered and his top lip curled.

Errol was one of those homosexuals of the seventies who seemed to slip under the “Aussie Poofter Radar”…; acceptable because they were amusing even though high camp!…as a matter of fact, I remember the owner of the pub in those days, a retired footballer (of course!) addressing the crowded front bar thus..;

“Listen youse blokes…I don’t want anybody picking on Errol or Steve (Errol’s occasional partner)….They’re good blokes…not like you an’ me ..p’rhaps…but they’re alright…..ALRIGHT!?”

Truth be known, Errol and Steve drank enough to lift the pub’s profit margin above “respectable” on a good night!…..Errol was in his mid-fifties w / comb-over and was a quite disreputable person regardless of ANY sexual proclivities!

I recall a moment when I was next to them along the bar and I distinctly heard Erroll addressing a petulant, Stevie :

”Jeesus..Steve, you’re really up-tight tonight…you should try farting..it’ll loosen you up a little”.

I took the accompanying moment of silence to slip away from that location at the bar.

Anyway..this night it was the turn of the Brighton Hotel to be “Mine Host”….Errol had been tossing a few down at “the cliff” before he went to the dinner….At The Brighton, in the dining room, quite full of family diners, it being Fri’ night, Errol took a shine to the bay-marie bowl full of big, fat prawns….he gourged himself…GOURGED himself!…and drank another couple of pints…then he decided he’d go for seconds..(you just know where this is heading, don’t you?)….eyewitness accounts state that Errol unsteadily approached the bay-marie side-table…a miniature, mock wagonette in the “Oklahoma Musical” style, replete with the “fringe on top”… plate out-stretched..he stood in front of the prawn container momentarily…he swayed a tad, his eyes widened somewhat and he then delivered what has been described as a “Guinness Book of Records” quality “technicolour yawn”….all over the prawns, all over the chopped carrots and the three-bean mix and the sweet corn (off the cob)….finishing in a dead faint flop onto the lot, then sliding, slipping, unconscious to the ceramic floor dragging the entire bay-marie potpourri and waggonette down with him…one witness remarked that his inert body slipped over the tiles like a dead fish would on a fluid based tray.

Of course, such action did not go un-noticed and the consequences were felt right up to the highest echelon of The Seacliff Hotel Sports and Social Club management….ie ; Col Penny and Joe Phistus!

The “night to remember” has gone down in the annals of Seacliff front-bar mythology…along with other memorable moments…of which, if you like, more later!

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