My Shout: Off the drink for the sake of parkrun

FOR more years than we care to recall, Friday night meant one thing for this correspondent.

Friday night was pub night.

We can wander back through the ages to the former Fotheringham’s (Foggs) Hotel in Taree. Friday afternoon in summer meant standing on the pub’s footpath and taking in the sights. That was way back in our teenage years. In the decades that followed Friday night was always sacrosanct. It was unimaginable to think of a Friday sans a visit to the hotel, even after Foggs lost its lustre back in the late 1980s.

To borrow from Tony Abbott, visiting a pub on a Friday is an important part of the Australian way of life. The federal government is banging on about Australian values as we speak, and there is no greater Australian value than having a beer at the pub on a Friday evening. Anyone who isn’t at a hotel is damn well unpatriotic. Why, if we had our way non-hotel frequenters would be deported. We’re sure Barnaby Joyce would back this sentiment. Advance Australia Fair, our home is girt by sea and all of that.

Of course those chardonnay sipping, lotus eating Greenies would disagree but what else would you expect from that lot?

However, we have a small confession to make. For the past two Friday evenings we haven’t been sighted at our usual spot at our local hotel. This has caused some consternation with the hotel’s hierarchy and resulted in Struggle Street receiving a visit from the SES, paramedics, the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service and a local undertaker all concerned about our wellbeing, although possibly the undertaker wasn’t as concerned as the rest.

As we explained to these various groups, there’s a valid reason for our absence. It’s the Taree parkrun.

Former Monday Night at Mick’s (MNaM) devotee and regular Friday night imbiber Mick ‘Hurricane’ Hawkins, is now a Taree parkrunner. As a preamble he had been regaling anyone who will listen with stories of his 5km run times in the days when he was in the Canberra Raiders system from, oh about 50 years ago. This correspondent drove Mick to his parkrun debut, and not wishing to keep him too long while he waited for us to finish the 5km, we decided to skip the pub to be nice and fresh for the Saturday morning. So there was no hotel visit on the Friday night.

Mick Hawkins powers towards a sub 30-minute finish in his parkrun debut, which was slightly slower than he anticipated.

Mick Hawkins powers towards a sub 30-minute finish in his parkrun debut, which was slightly slower than he anticipated.

As it turned out Mick’s time was slightly slower than he anticipated. About 15 minutes slower in fact, but that’s a topic for another day.

However, our foray into teetotalism has a publican worried.

“Do you realise that if you give up grog it could cause a heart attack or a stroke,’’ he lectured.

“You mean if I don’t drink I’ll have a heart attack or a stroke?’’ we asked.

“No, you probably won’t, but I will,’’ he replied.