Friday, 28 August 2009

The Last Hotel (A Song from 1980)

The Captain Cook Tavern, North Dunedin.

The Captain Cook Tavern is an icon of the North Dunedin student quarter. The hotel itself has stood on the corner of Albany and Great King Streets for nearly 150 years. The passing decades have seen many changes to "The Cook". Today’s quintessential "student bar" is certainly very different from the pub I patronised back in the 1970s and 80s, when Garry Reddington’s name was over the door. In those pre-Staff Club days there were many university tutors, lecturers (and even some professors) who sat around the tables of the Corner Bar. It was also a place of poets, painters, musicians, drug dealers, prostitutes, construction-workers, trade union officials and university students, where, in between trips to the bar, and games on the pool table, ideas of all kinds were discussed and debated. When the supply of chairs ran out, people simply grabbed a beer crate from "out the back" and squeezed in next to their mates. At 48 cents a jug, Gary's patrons could get drunk for less than two bucks. It was a fantastic place – and well worth a song.
The Last Hotel
For Garry Reddington

Moon rolling over the top of the hill
Looks as lonesome as me (but with less time to kill)
He’s a journey to make and it takes him all night
But my journey’s over – my refuge in sight.

It’s old and it’s dirty
But it casts such a spell
And I’m drinking tonight at
The Last Hotel

The Pool-player sights down the length of his cue
His eyes on the orange ball, fears on the blue
If he plays this shot right then it's sure to roll back
Hope rides on the white ball – sinks with the black

It’s old and it’s dirty
But it casts such a spell
And there’s more games that one in
The Last Hotel

In hand-me-down finery, flashing bright smiles
The ladies of fashion relax for a while
Rubbing shoulders with sin – getting stoned on the thrill
Rhapsodising Bohemia to the tune of the till

It’s old and it’s dirty
But it casts such a spell
When the rich meet the poor in
The Last Hotel

The thin poet glides to his seat by the door
Throws his arms in the air and his coat on the floor
Well he’s talking of Baxter and the sad Baudelaire
With unsteady hands he writes verse in the air

It’s old and it’s dirty
But it casts such a spell
And the poetry’s free in
The Last Hotel

I sit in the corner just taking things slow
For the price of a beer it’s a pretty good show
‘Til the barman collects all the bottles and calls
"Time now folks, please, we’re closing the doors!"

It’s old and it’s dirty
But it casts such a spell
And I’ll be drinking tomorrow in
The Last Hotel.
Chris Trotter


peterquixote said...

this is much better than your political rites dude

Quentin said...

I never warmed to the new look Cook which was merely a student 'booze barn' lots of good memories of the old Cook and the corner and back bars. Fana sempet vivit (may his fame endure forever).