The Six-Pack: Stories from the World of Beer
Last Day of School
I blame an old school friend for this book.
Two years ago, I published my first book, The Slab. I posted it on Facebook to try and sell a few books – which was pretty much the sum total of my marketing efforts. If you think writing a book is hard, wait til you have to try and sell it. So much pain in the arse – BTW buy my book. And some of the others too.
So I posted a photo of the book on Facebook and this guy named Michael, who I went to primary school with for a few years, posts a comment. He says, “now you need to write a sequel and call it The Six-Pack.”.
I thought, “damn, that’s a good idea”, But I tried so hard to forget about it because I had other things to do. But the idea of a book called The Six-Pack just wouldn’t go away. So I figured the only way to get it out of my head was to write a book with that title.
The Slab was a collection of 24 stories about beer in Australia – because a slab has 24 cans. With that in mind, The Six-Pack has just six stories in it. But this time the stories are from around the world. There’s the idea that the Australian accent was created by our drunken ancestors, the New Zealand legend that is the Steinlager headache, why brewing in the 20th century could be a dangerous job and a bit about Trappist beer. Just because the idea of monks brewing beer and selling it still amuses me to this day.
Read an excerpt
For quite a long time, we Australians absolutely loved to think we were great big nation of boozers. When it came to beer, no one liked it more than an Australian. Man, we could put it away like you wouldn’t believe; it was why we ranked way up there on the list of the world’s biggest beer-drinking nations.
Aside from it being a little odd to be proud to have a national image of perpetual drunkenness, it’s actually not true. Historical drinking rates show that, aside from a period in the 1970s, we’ve never been as in love with beer as we liked to think we were.
It’s finally possible that the myth of the Australian boozer may be dying, if we go by the outraged reaction to a claim that our accent has its roots in drunken slurring …
In October 2015 an opinion piece the Melbourne Age newspaper created a storm in a schooner glass. Dean Frenkel, a lecturer in public speaking and communications (but not, it should be noted for reasons that will soon become apparent, linguistics) at Victoria University penned a piece about Australians’ poor skills when it came to rhetoric, aka the ability to clearly pronounce and articulate your speech.
That’s hardly a contentious issue; speaking more clearly and effectively gets your point across accurately. It’s also likely to ensure the listener doesn’t think you’re a massive dropkick; you could be talking about quantum mechanics in great detail but if you sound like a bogan while doing it (and raise your voice at the end of every sentence) it does make it hard for that listener to take you entirely seriously.
That said, Frenkel did blame a lack of articulation for a surprising array of issues:
“It is self-evident that poor speech skills lead to a lack of confidence and a tendency to internalise emotions and thoughts. It can also contribute to difficulties in relationships, poor decision-making, loneliness, stress retention and stalled development. It may also be a contributor to Australia’s lack of cultural substance.”
“A lack of cultural substance”? Ouch. But still, this wasn’t the thing that caused many people to get hot under the collar and saw Frenkel’s opinion piece referred to by the BBC, CNN, Daily Mail, The Independent, Huffington Post among a host of other outlets. No, that would be Frenkel’s contention that Australians talk like a nation of drunkards.
Or, less flippantly, that our accent has been shaped via the boozing and drunkenness of the first white Australians way back in the late 1700s. Curiously, despite this theory not being the focus of his piece, Frenkel chose to open with it. “Let’s get things straight about the origins of the Australian accent,” he began.
Because it’s a short book, it’s not available in hard copy. If you want read it you’ve got go electronic. You can pick it up for a few bucks at Amazon, iBooks, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, whatever the hell Scribd is and a few other places. As a bonus I’ve thrown in sample chapters from The Slab and James Squire: The Biography. Just because I’m a top bloke.