A Night at the R.S.L. (The Lamb Street Chronicles 4)
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.
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!
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.
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.
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 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