Let’s all say cheers to the City Slukker

The Pig and Whistle in Bathurst — at 192 years, the oldest continuously licenced pub in the country which is up for sale — hosted Oktoberfest revellers several months ago. Flanking Cassidy Nicholson are the former City Slukker team, Dances With Sluks (Charl Barnard, left) and CS, Brett Adkins
HISTORY OF GOOD CHEER: The Pig and Whistle in Bathurst — at 192 years, the oldest continuously licenced pub in the country which is up for sale — hosted Oktoberfest revellers several months ago. Flanking Cassidy Nicholson are the former City Slukker team, Dances With Sluks (Charl Barnard, left) and CS, Brett Adkins

Some arbitrary date in 1996. 

Me: “So, ... er, I had this idea for a new column ...”

Ed: “About?”

Me: “Well, (hesitantly) pubs ... actually ….”

Ed: “And?”

Me: “We do a lot of reviews on restaurants, so I was thinking ...”

Ed: “Of drinking and working at the same time? Not new, you know ... (almost fake yawn).”

Me: “But this would be different. Finding the spots that really put some effort into their craft.” (BTW: craft beer was not a thing yet.)

Ed: “Won’t work. You’ll have exhausted every bar in PE in six months.”

Me: “Can I at least try for six months then?” (shrug of shoulders)

Actually, The Herald editor Ric Wilson was not that harsh (but not that keen either) and it was the then Weekend Post boss Jeremy McCabe who liked the idea and ... well, six months turned into more than 25 years.

And more than a quarter of a century later, the shadowy figure known as the City Slukker still gets stopped in the street (or at least within 10 metres of a pub entrance) and slyly asked: “Aren’t you the guy who …?”

Of course, the former CS vehemently denies it.

“No, you must have me mixed up with someone else,” (and quickly hurries on).

After all, he was — like some superhero, he imagined — supposed to be incognito.

Fighting the injustices of tepid beer, grubby glasses and indifferent, unsmiling bar staff: The Tapman, the Uncapped Crusader, if you will.

But who was CS fooling? Word spread quickly, as loose ones so often do in places like these, and he was soon uncasked.

It was, of course, simply a casual idea that happened to latch on — an only-too-human habit to which many who frequent their local will attest — and the quaffing column took on a cheerful frothiness of its own.

The final exit of Weekend Post from the print media stage therefore leaves a bittersweet aftertaste, reminiscent of many a long-remembered chat over a zesty lager or delicately distilled wine: a chance to reflect on umpteen days of good cheer and even greater company.

Not only in the then PE, but at watering holes from as far afield as Mossel to Morgan Bay, but from an altitude as high as Tiffindell ski resort, to as low as the waters of Algoa Bay aboard the Belafonte and the valleys of the Langkloof.

Times savoured, but now, like many a last round, the hour to sadly ring that final bell.

CS was so often asked: So which is your favourite “pozzie”?

It was an impossible question to answer.

“Every pub has its own people,” CS used to say.

“And they choose it for their own reasons.” 

For the slukker it was simple. Any humble abode could compete with a five-star establishment as long as they had a four-legged stool in place: ice-cold beer, clean glasses, value for money, and friendly service.

If you ticked (or slukked) those four boxes, you had a winner.

Which, of course, gave birth to the Beer Barometer — a rating out of five beer mugs — and then later, to the Bog Barometer, inspired by a female colleague who quite rightly reminded CS that while cleaning and fresh ablutions may not be a priority for the male species, ladies’ facilities were often in an appalling state.

And so began a campaign to ensure that a venue should strive to achieve a five toilet roll rating. 

Female friends would do the necessary restroom investigation — and report back.

One pub in particular, after a series of failed flushes (and zero scores), eventually revamped its toilets completely. It may have been coincidental — CS thinks not.

There were some particularly treasured moments in the history of CS’s scribblings.

Like the 89-year-old great-grandmother who called the Slukker to say how much she enjoyed his column.

“So you are a regular pub visitor?” CS asked, with half an eyebrow (and glass) raised.

“Not at all,” she chuckled. “It’s just that I never go to these places you frequent, so now you are giving me an insider’s look at what goes on inside all of them!”

And then there was the seven-year-old kid who stopped CS — who of course actually did have a real job as a reporter and news editor, and who occasionally wrote film reviews — in a food shop and blurted out: “My dad says you have the best job in the world!”

“Why is that?” a bemused CS asked.

“Because all you do all day is sit in pubs, drink, and go and watch movies.”

From behind the steering wheel of his car outside, CS noted the huge grin on the face of the young messenger’s father.

So many pubs, so little time. And so CS was assisted on occasion, by a stand-in like Arthur Brewster (his real name of course) as well as his Slukker-tary-General, Dances With Sluks, who helped pick up the slack (or more likely, the sluk) as they wound their merry way around the haunts that have come and gone. 

Some are still around — like Barney’s, Blinking Owl, Brewmaster and The Southender.

Some have changed names, places and faces — like the old Tapas Bush (now Ziggy’s), The Anchor (now Eddie Macs), and The Duck (still The Duck).

And of course, some legends are gone for good — Heritage Bar, Walmer Gardens, Crazy Zebra, Humerail, the Keg and Frog (and Fox), Dros, Aviators, Dockside Debbie’s, Wings, Toby Joe’s and Einstein’s.

And there are literally dozens more on a par which have replaced them.

Which of course is life.

Weekend Post, regrettably, won’t be replaced. But wasn’t it informative and fun?

A mixture of everything and something for everyone all in one place.

Kind of like a pub. And that, I guess, was CS’s real favourite after all.

And it will be missed dearly. So — a Toast to the Post. And a final “Cheers!” (and then sluks — don’t forget that part.)



Would you like to comment on this article?
Register (it's quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.