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PARTIES, CELEBRATIONS AND LIBATIONS

Barry Paterson sends me a clipping from the South Pacific Post. The article, dated 30/8/65, announces Barry and Janine’s betrothals and is headlined GAY ENGAGEMENT PARTY FOR TEACHERS.

Bill Welbourne recalls a fondue evening (remember them?) shared with Bill and Joan Bergen in Rabaul’s European compound. The evening was spoiled by a raucous group of partying Germans in a nearby block. Wagnerian national songs overwhelmed the romantic fluff coming from Bill's new Akai tape. “Watch this,” Bill said, as he recorded the rowdy singing of the German National Anthem. Then, in an obliging lull, turned the Akai to megablast and sent the song reverberating back in a supersonic boom that could be heard all over Rabaul. The party quietened down after that, apparently.

Rod Hard’s yarn about the Minj Ball caused me to reflect on my first and only appearance at that splendid function in 1965. After about the seventh drink, I developed an unfortunate habit of allowing the beer glass to slip out of my hand to the concrete floor. Noticing the club manager’s hostile “one more and he’s out of here” stare, and unable to think of another way to solve this tragic problem, I began drinking with my little finger propping up the glass from underneath. It worked and I use the same technique today. A small, personal reminder of the Minj Ball.

Justifiable gripe from our quaffing correspondent, Barry Paterson, who writes: “I hear lots and lots about SP out there. How come nobody is game to own up to drinking GB? I confess that I did.” Confide in me, Rev Dr Barry. Why? “In Tufi it happened to be cheaper than SP,” is the chastened response.

I am indebted to my old chess playing associate, Barry Paterson, for reminding me of a great lost tradition of rum drinking. Barry writes: “Did you know Old Kedge was designed to be decanted - half water, half Old Kedge? I never saw it done but a RAN type in Lae told me it was true. Like all Navy guys he was dribbling at the time.” Yes Barry, I was aware of the custom but for some inexplicable reason my brain cells were in hiding when I wrote last week’s piece. In fact, Old Kedge must be cut down 50% into a Rhum Negrita bottle. I use ‘must’ advisedly, so as not to affront rum-drinking purists.