Island Life by David Slack


Speaking boisterously to no-one in particular

I had my first encounter with drinking liberally when I was 15. In the 1970s, Flock House was the place for a young man to come and learn to be a farmer. It was a large farm near Bulls, with a grand homestead. It once belonged to my great great grandparents, the McKenzies.

There, in 1976, we had a family reunion, and there, in 1976, I had my first Bacardi and Coke, followed by another, and another, and then another, in gathering succession as I discerned that no-one would impede my progress to the bar.

Late in the evening, my parents led me, talking boisterously to no-one in particular, from the grand house to the car, where I stretched across the back seat and regaled them with an oration of which I could recall not one word the next morning. I did not feel queasy, nor did I have a headache. But I did feel mortified. Never again, I vowed and with only a thousand or two exceptions, I have kept my word.

"My name is David and I am a liberal drinker", I will say when the gathering is called to order this evening at the London Bar. I will speak of many doomed years grappling with the dreaded social lubricant. I will speak of my liver, my heart, and my lost lamented brain cells.

No I won’t.

The Drinking Liberally movement has arrived in Auckland, and I will be saying a few words. My topic is drawn from the 1975 Muldoon battle cry: New Zealand the Way You Want It. I will begin by reminiscing about that and the origin of of the slogan, as described by Barry Gustafson, and we’ll go from there. I expect to pass through the towns of Key, Clark, Crosby, Textor, SPARC’s operating budget and the shining city on a hill called a better tomorrow. I also expect to speak the name of the hell that no Liberal dare consider: a National landslide.

The London Bar is still my favourite place to drink in all of Auckland. I’ll be the one holding a scotch on the rocks and drinking slowly.

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