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Beer memories by Beth

18 Jun

Memories of uni: spending the two or three hour gap between classes sitting around chatting at the cafe, the pretty awful acoustic guitar playing that would sometimes feature at that cafe, eating Edge of Vege for lunch, Luke’s Edge of Vege plates always mysteriously weighing in at about the $20 mark, meeting Katy, listening to Dubstar and discovering Stereolab, the fountain in the quadrangle being dyed a colour or having bubble mix put in it, all-nighters to get essays done, spending a lot of time in the library, doing at 2SER course where I met Tabitha, reading Vanessa Berry’s writing for the first time (thanks to Tabs), tutorials with James Brown and Patrick Fury, lectures by Andrew Murphy and a philosophy lecturer with intense blue eyes and an Irish accent, a lot of crushes but no relationships to speak of, going skating at Petersham rollerskating rink every week, not finishing my readings, being totally lit on intellectual fire by cultural studies, really getting into documentary and watching the 7Up series and all of Ross McElwee’s stuff, becoming a vegetarian, going clubbing at Club 77: Bazooka on Sunday night and Pure Pop, going to gigs, making short videos in our video course and putting my heart and soul into them, and, people drinking Toohey’s New a lot.

I tried to get enthused about beer during this time (much like my failed relationship with coffee). Having decided that beer with lime (cordial) was my ticket, I probably kept it up for a year or so before moving onto vodka with lime, and then onto the occasional white wine. And then I got pregnant and Nathan and Tabitha left the country (resulting in a steep decline in the number of parties I attended) and now I’m pretty much a tee-totaller. Alcohol, along with coffee, cigarettes and holidays are pretty much the only things we save money on.

Beer – by Karen

18 Jun

Bitterness. Coldness. Brownness. These are perhaps the defining qualities of beer. No wonder it’s considered so masculine – or at least non-feminine. Compare it to red wine – we get phrases like “ruby coloured”, “voluptuous”, “soft on the palate”.

This isn’t very profound. In fact, this sounds like the opening of an article in Madison magazine.

I don’t have a lot to say about beer. When it’s cold, I like it better – that masks the flavour. When I next watch a game of tennis at a pub, I will order a beer and drink it with relish. I wish you all the enjoyment in the world in your consumption of beer.

Parenting and beer – by Tabitha

14 Jun

I’m going to “do a Justyna” and combine two topics into one: beer and parenting. I am not suggesting Justyna combines beer and parenting specifically, but if she does, I wholeheartedly support that.

Over the past couple of months I have been interviewing Vietnamese people who studied in Australia, for a book project I have been contracted to work on. It’s been really interesting, and I’ve heard all kinds of amazing stories.

One interviewee I met, a woman, said something that has really stuck with me.

She said that when she was studying in Australia she was surprised to see that Australian men spend time with their families. She said that Vietnamese men don’t usually want to go home after work, they want to go drink beer with their friends.

I’m sure this isn’t true of all Vietnamese fathers (and I’m sure it’s equally true of many AUSTRALIAN fathers), but it’s true that every evening the beer halls are packed with red-faced men, and also true that I have heard several Vietnamese men refer to their family life as “boring”, including one of the interviewees for this project.

The woman who mentioned this to me went on to say that Vietnamese culture prides itself on its “family values”, but that this is all a myth. Fathers would rather drink beer than be with their wife and children.

She then told me that she is actually a single mother, divorced, which is pretty rare in Vietnam, and that she manages her business and raises her family by herself. She was perfectly happy with this situation, she said, if tired.

I later mentioned this story to a Vietnamese girlfriend, who I thought would be shocked to hear of this successful single mother. She shot right back at me, “All women in Vietnam are single mothers”.

This friend is in her late twenties and single, also a rarity in Vietnam, but increasingly less so. Young women are wising up. My friend tells me stories all the time about her peers who have married drunks and gamblers and layabouts who play Chinese chess with their friends while their wives work multiple jobs and look after the home. Every one of these stories ends with her saying, “I will never get married”. It is defiant: this will not happen to me.

What is this generation of young, hopeful, self-respecting women to do? They are right to steer clear of marriage entirely in a country where 70-80% of officials believe domestic violence is “sometimes necessary”.  But if they never marry, they won’t have the chance to raise the next generation of Vietnamese sons to be better husbands and fathers.

My heart sinks when I walk past those beer halls.