It was a hot day Friday and ideal for a cold beer. At the end of the working day I made my way to the Arbory bar to meet with the sundry Dutchmen collecting to re-unite with another of their number, a legendary wild man now living in Singapore.
The Arbory is always busy, and a hot Friday night in the middle of summer is never going to be quiet. Gradually the group of us coalesced. There were no tables available, so we stood in between with the crowd in constant flow around us. We must have spent a little over two hours there, enough for 4-5 beers each.
We left approaching 8.30. One sensible decided to call it quits at that point, leaving five of us to go on to the Golden Orchid in Chinatown, stopping by the bottleshop on the way.
The Gold Orchid was evidently an old favourite of JK, who is a larger than life character with a heart of gold. He was greeted by the owners with the comment that they had not seen him in so long. We were led to a round table outside where JK ordered for us all: “twenty chicken, twenty beef and twenty pork satays,” he said, “and with extra sauce!”
We’d bought four bottles of wine between us, and a bottle of 25 year old rum. We started on the wine, a mix of Cloudy Bay Sav Blanc and a tasty French pinot. The satays came and were summarily demolished, before another lot appeared. The lazy Susan was dizzy with activity.
We were getting pretty smashed by now, but the conversation was good. One of the guys catches the same train as me in the morning. He’s a tall, conservative looking character, a Lib voter, he looks exactly what you’d expect a well to do Lib supporter to look like. That led to some good natured sparring between us, but also some serious discussion about energy policy, wages growth, and asylum seekers. We’re oil and water but it was an edifying conversation with mutual respect. By this time the wine has gone and we’re drinking the rum like it’s cordial.
Somewhere in the middle of this JK had enough. He’d been at it since Wednesday lunch. He told the story of how the previous night they’d spent $3,500 between the five of them at the Stokehouse. They’d gone to another bar after that, then another, before he got to bed at 5am – classic JK.
I don’t know how long we were at the restaurant, but I certainly know we were the last to leave. I caught the train home with Cheeseboy, sometime post 1am. I can’t remember being so tired. Cheeseboy wanted to kick on for a Turkish coffee at the Urchin bar, but for the first time in my life I said no. I got to bed and slept like a Pharaoh. I felt like a Pharaoh too on Saturday, awoken after thousands of years of dormancy. Very stiff, sore and confused.