A Night at the R.S.L. (The Lamb Street Chronicles 4) - LetterPile - Writing and Literature
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A Night at the R.S.L. (The Lamb Street Chronicles 4)

We have had up to four roosters and fifteen hens. Have since downsized since moving to town but still have a few chickens.

The Murgon Services Club

The Murgon Services Club

What's For Dinner?

Yesterday, my wife Kathy and I were discussing what to have for dinner when we were interrupted by a phone call from a friend. Helen said her and hubby Steve were going to participate in a karaoke evening at the Murgon RSL Club and they thought we may like to catch up while they were in town.

She said the karaoke started at 8.00 but they would be there to have dinner first at 6.30. It had been a few months since we had seen Helen and Steve, so we jumped at the chance to catch up, and it was also a welcome solution to the debate "What's for dinner?" We said we would love to attend.

Poker machines (pokies)

Poker machines (pokies)

Let the Games Begin

Kathy and I don't have a lot of opportunities to get dressed up, even semi-formally like on this occasion, so that is always kind of fun pulling some seldom-worn but smarter threads out of the closet.

Looking quite dapper (myself) and classy (her) we arrived at the club at 6.00pm so we could have a quick play on the pokies (poker machines) before our friends arrived, and ordering our meal.

On arriving and presenting our membership cards we found out they'd just expired so had to renew them for another 12 months before we could order drinks or meals at a discounted members' price. This is no big deal as it is only $5.00 per person and entitles you to 10% discount on meals and drinks (as well as raffle entries) for an entire year.

I ordered a schooner of beer and a lemon lime and bitters for Kathy. Then armed with a pocket full of dollar coins we confidently (not) attacked the poker machines. I never invest more than $10 in the machines and the said $10 lasted me the best part of ten minutes to donate. Kathy did a little better, lasting maybe 20 minutes and breaking even. However, on the way out of the gaming area, she swiped her new membership card and was lucky enough to receive a voucher "Buy one meal get one free." This later saved us $16.00 on the night. High five!

Murgon RSL interior, bar, and restaurant

Murgon RSL interior, bar, and restaurant

Friends, Fun, and Feasting

Our friends soon arrived, just a little late but they had about an hour to travel. We sat at the table they'd booked, were introduced to a couple of their other friends, and proceeded to catch up on what had been happening in each other's lives recently.

An Aboriginal musician was playing the guitar and to entertain until the karaoke started, and the club was quickly starting to fill up as it was a popular Friday night. This and the fact that probably a third of the patronage was Aboriginal was good to see as there has been some recent racial tension in the community over crime, car thefts etc. The local Aboriginal community has been blamed for most of it, but to be fair a number of perpetrators have been found to be white as well.

We looked through the menu, made our choices, and I went up to the bistro to order our meals. There was quite a line-up already, and the chef and kitchen staff were already beginning to show signs of stress. While waiting in line we were asked to observe a minute's silence to honour ex-servicemen and women who gave their lives for our country.

Below is what we ordered:

  • Garlic bread with added cheese and bacon (entree for two)
  • 350-gram rump steak with vegetables, and pepper sauce (John)
  • 200-gram rump steak with vegetable, and mushroom sauce (Kathy)
  • mixed berry crepes with whipped cream and ice cream (Kathy)

Our friends both ordered steamed barramundi, chips and salad.

Entree came quickly and was scrumptious, but we had to wait around an hour for the main meal to arrive. This was understandable though due to the number of people and full tables.

Steak and vegetables

Steak and vegetables

The karaoke began and was controlled by the Aboriginal guy who had been singing and providing the entertainment up until now. Our friend Helen actually does karaoke gigs as well and is an accomplished singer so she was an active performer. In fact, most of the singers were very very good (my envy showing.) The last time I sang karaoke was at my eldest son's wedding nine years ago, and I am not yet ready to do it again. I do care about people.

Our mains finally arrived and were definitely worth the wait, being absolutely delicious. We sat and enjoyed more singing until Kathy's dessert arrived (which was so huge we shared.) We waited for Helen to sing one more song, before thanking our friends for the invitation, and enjoyable company, and saying our goodbyes.

Since moving to town Kathy and I go out to dinner or lunch, as a couple, at least every second week, but it is extra enjoyable if it is with other friends as well.

a-night-at-the-rsl

What R.S.L. Stands For and a Brief History

Almost every Australian is aware of the RSL and what it stands for and most are many are members or, or at least shared meals or drinks at the clubs. For readers outside Australia however, here is what RSL is all about:

In the aftermath of World War I, wounded servicemen began returning home to find there was very limited government support available to them.

Diggers felt that a united voice was needed to bring about change for returned servicemen and women. Hence, the RSL was formed – an independent, apolitical organisation run by its members, for its members and the ex-service community. The RSL proceeded to represent the interests of returned servicemen and women, lobbying the Government on their behalf and providing welfare and support services.

Originally known as the Returned Sailors & Soldiers Imperial League of Australia (RSSILA), the name was changed to the Returned Soldiers and Airman’s Imperial League of Australia (RSSAILA) in 1940.

Then, In 1965, the name was again changed to the Returned & Services League of Australia (RSLA) and finally, in 1990, the name was shortened to the Returned & Services League (RSL).

RSL Clubs

RSL Clubs were created in communities across Australia to provide a venue exclusively for current and ex-service personnel and their families to enjoy a safe and comfortable place to gather, to enjoy each other’s company, and to share a meal and a drink or two.

Eventually, however, these clubs opened their doors, and their social memberships, to the broader Australia community to enable them to share in the benefits and help contribute towards building better facilities and services for veterans.

These Clubs also serve as a place of continued remembrance for the contribution and sacrifice of all Australia Defence personnel.

Services Offered by the RSL

  • Mental health support
  • Emergency financial assistance
  • Bereavement assistance for Defence families who have lost loved ones
  • Help with compensation claims through the Department of Veterans’ Affairs
  • Referrals to peer support groups and other specialist services
  • Visiting the sick, injured and lonely in hospital and/or at their homes
  • Short-term crisis accommodation
  • Subsidised longer-term housing solutions
  • Assistance to locate or obtain copies of service medals

© 2018 John Hansen

Comments

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on July 17, 2018:

No problem Chris. The same thing seems to happen to me occasionally, especially on Bill Holland's hubs for some reason. Comments don't always save. Glad you came back and that you enjoyed the read.

Chris Mills from Traverse City, MI on July 17, 2018:

John, i read this article when you first published it. I'm surprised to see I did not comment. Probably I ran off chasing some other article by someone in the comment area. This was a delightful account of your evening and an education regarding RSL. Thanks for the good read.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on July 16, 2018:

Thanks for coming to dinner Shauna. I have to check Joan Baez` version. I looked at a couple but decided to go with the original.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on July 16, 2018:

Dana, thank you. It was fun.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on July 16, 2018:

Your dinner invitation couldn't have been timed any better, John! It sounds like you had a great time with good friends, good food, and music.

Thanks for the info on RSL. I think our version would be the VFW.

I love "The Band Played Waltzing Matilda". Joan Baez did a cover on one of her albums. I love her version. She's got a haunting-type voice that really does the song justice.

Dana Tate from LOS ANGELES on July 16, 2018:

Enjoyed the article. Seems as if you and your wife had a good time.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on July 14, 2018:

Thanks for coming along to the RSL Club, Genna. Glad you enjoyed the read :)

Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on July 14, 2018:

Hi John...

Thank you for inviting us along on the evening you shared with friends. The RSL has an impressive history and it is heartening to see the support of family, friends and the community. This was such an enjoyable read. Thank you.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on July 13, 2018:

Thank you, Jo, for your kind comment. I have to agree, it is wonderful to read about the lives of others around the world and often realise they are not far removed from our own.

Jo Miller from Tennessee on July 13, 2018:

This is lovey, John. I so like reading about the ordinary lives of others. Though it's far away it doesn't sound all that different from the life we live here in Tennessee. It's always good to connect across the miles.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on July 10, 2018:

Thanks, Frank, it is always good to share a night out with friends...in person and online. Thanks for tagging along.

Frank Atanacio from Shelton on July 10, 2018:

John I really enjoyed hanging out with you as you shared your experiences.. it was fun reading what you've done.. great little piece my friend...:)

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on July 09, 2018:

Haha Rinita, sorry to disappoint about the karaoke singing. I guess there are two or three songs that I don't totally suck at, and I sound ok in my own head, but when I hear myself recorded it is embarrassingly bad. I think Kathy sings better but she is too shy unless it's in a group. Yes, maybe I should get the mobile ap and just sing at home alone...lol.

Thanks for reading.

Rinita Sen on July 09, 2018:

This was an enjoyable write-up about your night out. It was good learning about the history of RSL as well. I am a bit disappointed though to know that you or Kathy didn't sing. I almost expected a video towards the end of you guys singing! Karaokes are so much fun. Of course, there are mobile apps these days to have a karaoke on your own, but it is not quite like singing in front of hundreds of people, and getting really scared!!

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on July 08, 2018:

Thank you for the kind comment, Sean, my friend. Haha good for you also caring too much about people to subject them to your singing. Cheers.

Ioannis Arvanitis from Greece, Almyros on July 08, 2018:

Thank you, my friend, John for this "window" to Australia! I loved it. I am standing by you telling that I don't sing too because I do care people too. That makes two Johns with feelings. Ha! Ha!

Much Love to you and Kathy, from Greece!

Sean

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on July 08, 2018:

Thanks, Dave, glad you found this an interesting read. Yes, the RSL is a worthy organisation.

David Edward Lynch from Port Elizabeth, South Africa on July 08, 2018:

Thanks for an interesting read John. It's always good to learn more about what activities there are in other countries (ones I've never been to). The services the RSL offer are really admirable.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on July 08, 2018:

Hi Rota, Thank you for your confirmation at how great the RSLs are, and yes they are very welcoming with a community feel and much safer than a hotel for instance.

Rota on July 07, 2018:

This is a great write-up! I love RSLs. People abroad unsurprisingly known little about them - but they have such a great role in Australia for service people - and the wider public like me! They are safer places to have a meal or a drink on my own in the evening, a bit more of a community feel as well - and just have a good vibe. Thanks for this peek inside your local RSL!

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on July 07, 2018:

Audrey, glad you enjoyed reading of this night out. So lucky for me you weren't there though lol. Thanks for reading.

Audrey Hunt from Idyllwild Ca. on July 07, 2018:

Thanks, John for sharing this delightful night out. Good thing I wasn't invited as everyone in your party would end up participating in Karaoke...including you!

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on July 07, 2018:

I didn't call this a Lamb St Chronical chapter at first, Linda, but thought it should be so changed the title. Thank you for reading and following this series, as you did with the Cackleberry Farmer.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on July 07, 2018:

Yes, it was enjoyable thank you, Mary. As I said karaoke is fine as long as I am not expected to sing :)

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on July 07, 2018:

I was hoping that you would write another edition of The Lamb Street Chronicles soon. The RSL sounds like a great organization. It's nice to hear that you and Kathy had such an enjoyable evening.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on July 07, 2018:

That was one enjoyable evening. Looks like that dinner was delicious. I had karaoke last year at our high school reunion and found out, my former classmates love it. That was the only time we did it but I admit, I enjoyed it so much.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on July 07, 2018:

Good to see you Mike. Yes, I think we are finally beginning to settle into town life and it's early teething problems. Karaoke is ok to listen to but I don't like to participate. Thanks for reading.

mckbirdbks from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on July 07, 2018:

Hello John - I found this very entertaining. You seemed to have completed the transition from country to city life. I am with you on the whole karaoke thing.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on July 07, 2018:

Yes, Floursh. The RSL does a great job. Fills a lot of holes where the Government lacks. Glad your VFW does something similar.

FlourishAnyway from USA on July 07, 2018:

I’m glad that your veterans are treated well in an atmosphere of love and respect. We have VFW posts that are similar in function.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on July 07, 2018:

Oops wrong word

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on July 07, 2018:

You are right Bill, we are all very similar even if I other sides of the world. A night out with friends , fun, food and entertainment is always a popular pastime. Thanks for reading.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on July 07, 2018:

Hey, Eric. Yes, a great time was had by all. Saltry things? Yes, our veterans are lucky we have such a wonderful institution as the RSL, many countries don't. I gamble very rarely these days but for clubs like the RSL at least a large percentage of the poker machine money goes to support veterans in some way, so better there than elsewhere.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on July 07, 2018:

So here's the thing, John: we are all so very similar. Oh, the type of event may change a bit, but it is still time spent with loved ones and good friends, a little entertainment, some fun, some laughs, some music...this was a universal night out we all can relate to. Thanks for sharing.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on July 07, 2018:

This was a very cool night out, thank you for letting me tag along. I do wonder what saltry things you caught up on ;-). As for gambling, I used up my fun tickets years ago but my wife has never lost a Black Jack since marriage - I go hiking nearby.

What a national treasure you have in the RSL. Our veterans are not taken care of either - But many charitable have started like yours. Thanks for the reminder.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on July 07, 2018:

Thank you for reading this Ann. I think our treatment of ex-servicemen is reasonably good but could still be better. The RSL does do a good job though. It was a fun and enjoyable night.

Ann Carr from SW England on July 07, 2018:

From friends in Australia, I've come to realise that their treatment of ex-servicemen is much better than it is here. There are clubs here but the government is lax about giving veterans support.

Sounds like a great night out with a bit of fun. Thanks for sharing this and explaining what the RSL is all about.

Ann