Beer drinkers are a very fortunate lot. Not only does beer serve to refresh our system, either as a reward for hard work or as a fitting end to a long day behind a desk dealing with dickheads, it also pleases our souls in a way that is difficult to describe to people who dislike the whole concept of alcohol and pleasure.
Beer can be thirst quenching and icy cold or it can be cool and contemplative (is that even a word?). It can be sipped alone or slurped in groups. It can be poured thoughtfully into a nice glass or necked straight from the stubby. It can be expensive and imported from distant shores or cheap and cheerful and shipped from around the corner. Versatile and flexible it is suited to any occasion and any mood. Both the joyful and the sorrowful.
“Pickles” passed away last week after a short and aggressive illness. Though his work in recent years saw him living interstate, his visits, sometimes brief, were frequent and based more on quality than quantity. They always incorporated the sacred ritual of ‘The Sharing Of Stories With Beers And Mates’. Pix was not one to change the system if it still worked, nor was he the type to worry too much about formality and structure when it came to getting together for a beer. A call from Billy or Wal to say ‘Pix is in town next week and at the pub on Saturday and be there if you can’ was about as detailed as arrangements would get.
And, if you could get there, you would always be entertained and rarely would you be surprised or disappointed. He would never miss a Shout, never sit at a table too far from the TAB, never cause a stink or get into any trouble, never raise his voice and never drink anything other the standard-on-tap-lager. And enjoy it. Sometimes, it could be argued, he ‘over enjoyed’ it. Rob’s recollection of Pix standing up, nursing a pot while sound asleep is just one example. But still he never caused a fuss. He sometimes spent a fair bit of the next day phoning apologies but his ‘antics’ were never more annoying than a minor inconvenience.
The last time we all got together was Melbourne Cup day, November last year at Seds’ house. Thinking back, it was just like any other year. The Syndicate went ‘tits up’ yet again and all our solid gold selections were unlucky to be beaten. In some cases, they were unlucky to be beaten by every other nag in the field. Pickles hadn’t really let on to all his mates just how crook he was or what the likely outcomes would be. He just didn’t want to burden anyone with worry as I’m sure he’d have felt guilty if any of us so much as offered to help him out in any way. He just made sure he shared the time with his friends. Time, and beers.
When I heard the news I marked the moment with a favourite brew from the ‘Beer Crisper’ in the fridge (where I store all the ‘specials’) and raised a toast to Pickles. But, when we all get together to pay tribute to our mate, we will probably all down a few Carlton Draughts or VBs. Pickles would not want it any other way.
So now, as we reflect on all the times we shared with Pickles, we remember the laughs and the warmth and loyalty. We recall the stories and the moments that will forever be looked back upon fondly and which will always be ‘Pickles Moments’. And, at the risk of rehashing someone else’s thoughts, we can be sad at his passing that we won’t share any more moments but we can also rejoice in the fact that we had so many to remember him by.
Cheers, Pickles. And thanks for everything you are to all of us. After we give you a fitting send off, I reckon we might just celebrate your life with a few beers. Somehow, though, I think there might be more tears than beers – none of us cold drink that many beers. Plus, no one could sleep standing up as well as you could.
(Keith) Michael Wright
"Pickles, Pix, Curl"