The front bar of the Criterion is filling up,
It’s after five and the patrons are filing in.
Placed orders echoing off the old timbers
Vying to be heard and adding to the din.
The Grand Old Lady proudly plays host
As she looks out over the muddy Fitzroy.
Thirsty travellers mingle with the regulars,
Escaping the heat with a time worn ploy.
The nubile young bar staff are soon kept busy
As the chaos of orders are shouted out.
Pots and schooners, Bundy Rum and XXXX,
Of their burning thirst there can be no doubt.
The old burnished timber balustrade
though hints at an earlier time of splendor.
An era lost in a more genteel age,
When the old lady was of years more tender.
There’s a Dining Room and spacious Saloon,
Public Bar and upstairs rooms in which to stay.
All retaining their charm of yesteryear,
You can imagine just what they would say.
They’d tell tales of the customers of old,
Of the dusty drovers long on the track.
To the bar to slake a hard earned thirst
Before again mounting up to “get on back”.
Of the bullockies breasting up to the bar
Still cursing that cranky old lead beast.
In language blue they summons the barmaid
And soon settle in for a liquid feast.
Floorboards ringing to the thud of hob nailed boots
As the thirsty stockmen venture into town.
Today their pockets are full of promise,
Tomorrow hangovers they need to drown.
They’d recall long ago warm summer nights
With the polished chandeliers shining bright.
When the silver cutlery was out on display,
And well set tables made for a grand sight.
When gentlemen and ladies on the town
Took pride in appearance to look the part.
When crinoline, whale bone, lace and shift,
Were well placed to land a gentleman’s heart.
And assignations conducted furtively
In consummation of illicit affairs.
All in the rooms overlooking the city,
at the top of those carpeted old stairs.
I’m sure that today’s equivalent games
Are still seen daily by those left in charge.
The same scenes repeated by a new crowd,
The same desires on their faces writ large.