Mid-afternoon Friday, I get a text from Chris inviting me to a “secret pub” in Fernhill, “…with some whiskey and cigars” I’m pretty sure it read. With the night off and nothing other than eggs and mushroom to cook for dinner, I agree and reply. “Might be able to squeeze a round of disc golf with Shaun before the rendezvous”, I think. I had a hard week on the Queenstown Gardens course, par always a hand-full of good putts-and-approaches away. With one hour to spare and my companion consistently hitting birdies it was all set to be a smooth stroll through the park, but living in a small town means you should stretch your schedule an extra 15 to 20 minutes in the event of bumping into someone you (or whoever is with you) know. Needless to say I cut my round short and sprint back to make it on time for our 6pm lift up the hill. I have a lot of respect for Chris and didn’t want to run late. Together with his wife we joined others at Tim’s very own watering hole and, safe to say, the smallest homemade pub in the
world Lakes District of the South Island of New Zealand. We were at The Broken Arms. The agenda for the night: present a bottle of booze and tell a story about it. A stove in the corner burned as if it could be set at a pre-determined temperature. The dog was electric at first but settled down once he figured out inside was warmer than outside. While Tim offers drinks, I notice the memorabilia on the walls. A feeling of nostalgia flashes as I spot a coaster from a popular Brazilian brew. “Shit beer!” I say to an unimpressed audience, followed by “Sorry, I swear a lot”. The night progresses and so does our blood alcohol content. Kirsten had cooked curry and invited us in for a taste. The contrast between the modern, spacious living room and the tiny makeshift man-cave-turned-pub was explicit. As polite guests we all take our time to eat but I sensed no one, including me, actually wanted to be at the dinner table. The Broken Arms had lured me as it had already lured them, the seasoned veterans of Fernhill’s best-kept secret. Back in the pint-sized bar stories ensue, together with bad jokes, honest laughs and good advice. Chris and I drag on Cubans outside, and as we chat we can’t help but think that everyone needs their own Broken Arms. Everyone. It’s a demand for space. Life can get claustrophobic sometimes. We constantly find ourselves surrounded by people, their ideas, opinions and demands. The status quo. The pressure to beat par. The bills. The visas. The unfinished work. The relationships. Your own limitations. The grass is always greener. I’m not an inspirational speaker nor is any of the following new, but I’m going to tell you my personal opinion: fuck the status quo. Be a bit selfish. Say “no” sometimes. Get down to get up. Try the vegetarian. Drift away from shallow relationships. Ditch Facebook for a while. Talk less, do more. I’m jumping on this seven-meter-long diesel bus and I hope to enjoy the ride. There’s a summer on the way and a ton of things to look forward to.
I hope you like the photos.
(N.B.: the Broken Arms is a private, unlicensed “venue”. We had designated drivers. No animals were harmed on the occasion.)