© Ron Stevens

Winner, 2014 Humorous Section, Gilgandra Coo-ee Festival, Gilgandra NSW.

He warned us we had better move along
and possibly we should have done so too
but Mike insisted we had done no wrong
and thirst demanded just another few.
We’d only had a couple, when this bloke
behind the bar objected to my voice
disturbing (so he said) some gentlefolk
then sipping at a vintage of their choice.
To show I’m no free-loader, I’d tossed down
upon the bar an ample pile of cash,
inviting ‘Drink with us to Dublin Town,
Saint Patrick and the Green! Let’s have a bash!’

Perhaps I get a trifle boisterous
on Paddy’s Day and other festive dates
but fun developed into quite a fuss
when some wet-blanket muttered ‘reprobates’.
Of course, both Mike my mate and I were shocked
at this appalling lack of social grace
and naturally I was promptly locked
in fistic combat with this chinless face
who’d so described us harmless innocents
abroad upon a tour of wineries.
Though Mike is rarely one to take offence,
he choked upon his Sao topped with cheese…

…before recovering to hurl himself
full length across the bar to where mine host
was scrambling for the handset on the shelf.
Our gallant Michael reached his prey, almost.
The sampling glasses lined for white or red,
a sturdy port or two, impeded poor
old Mike and he fell short – a slob outspread
upon the winery’s unyielding floor.
It’s my belief – and I will tell them so
next time I’m there – that bare cement detracts
somewhat from grog-shop’s ambience, although
perhaps, for some, the primitive attracts.

Before police arrived we’d reached a truce.
Hysteria among the womenfolk
had been reduced and Mike, still coloured puce,
had found his wits again, could even joke
about his flight across the cluttered bar.
We don’t bear grudges; I insisted all
my cash be put into the Salvo’s jar,
when wreckage was recovered from the brawl.
There probably was thirty bucks or more
but who counts pennies when you’re having fun?
Our bus was tooting right outside the door
when Mike suggested, ‘Just another one?’

No hope, in any case, for who arrived
just then but two upholders of the law.
Conversing with such people, I’ve contrived
to be polite, but sometimes it is war,
declared and total, right from go to whoa.
Perhaps Mike’s opening remark, ‘The plods
are here!’ was ill-advised; then in the flow
of dialogue, head-butting, gouging, prods
to ribs and groins that followed, I should not
have called the opposition ‘Proddies, gay
and Cromwell’s resurrected bloody lot.’
But then, of course, it was Saint Patrick’s Day.

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