God, I love the pub. A place to contemplate life and the cosmos and the Test selection. A place of cold beer, giant schnitzels and free pool on Mondays. A place that for 11 months of the year is the refuge of bolted-on locals who would prefer not to be bothered.
For these regular drinkers, summer is not a good time for the pub. Christmas parties ram the bar and create commotion with complex orders. Social punters struggle with the concept of a shout and there's always one lunatic who has the nerve to play something other than Bow River on the jukebox.
And look, it's fine. Not everyone knows how to use the pub. Just like I wouldn't know what to do with myself on a bushwalk or jet ski or whatever it is non-pub people do.
Here are 10 public house rules to make sure everyone has a top time in the beer garden, and for locals to stop willing death on humanity because there are more than five people in the pub for the first time since February.
Don't even think about changing the channel. If the cricket's on in summer it stays on, no matter what else is happening outside. A-League derby? Nuclear apocalypse? New Zealand invasion? Don't care. Watch it on your phone, Starc's bowling fast ones.
Two wine tastings maximum. You're not at a cellar door in Beechworth, you're at a pub with other people waiting in line. Roll the dice on a riesling and move on.
No carry-on in the TAB room. It is a place of quiet contemplation punctuated by occasional coarse language. It is not a zone for carrying on like a pork chop and woe betide anyone who blocks the TAB machine when Warwick Farm is about to jump.
Blokes at an unknown Australian pub circa 1962. Photo: Fairfax Media
Understand the concept of a shout. All parties of two or more should minimise the throng of bodies at the bar by ordering drinks in rounds. This is not up for discussion.
Let the person next to you order first if your round is ridiculous. A specific rule for when two people arrive at the bar at the same time. "Mate, what are you getting? Just the one lager? Alright, I need three espresso martinis, two house whites and 10 pina coladas so you go first." Easy right? It's genuinely mind-boggling how often this doesn't happen.
If you book a table you damn well better show up. Tables are a hot pub commodity in summer and if you're not there within five minutes of the reserved time, locals will be all over those seats like pensioners to a leagues club carvery.
Don't be a jerk to staff. Working at a pub in summer is soul-crushing stuff so don't make these legends' day any more painful.
The Unicorn Hotel, Paddington. Photo: James Alcock
The Stick has no place at the pool table. And by The Stick I mean the jigger with an X-shaped bridge used for getting the cue-ball out of a rough spot. The Stick is for nine-year-olds and Darren who busted his arm installing gyprock last week. It is not for you.
Don't expect your meat tray to be there tomorrow. Win a meat tray in the raffle, get shickered and leave it in the fridge behind the bar? It's the property of the pub gods now. Or more likely the glassie enjoying a delicious minute steak at home in their underwear.
Don't judge another punter's drink choice. Craft beer nerds, I'm talking to you. Did the person next to you just order a Melbourne Bitter or West Coast Cooler? Good on 'em. It's Christmas and they can drink want they want. Give them a high five and have a ripper summer.