The man who ate Lincoln Rd needs a drink in his line of work, so this week I called in on the elegant bar of wedding and conference centre Langtons On Lincoln - while I still could. It closes immediately after Easter. Everything must go. All stocks of beer, wine, spirits and RTDs at its Blanc bottle store are marked down 15 per cent. Get thee there asap.
You don't know what you've got till it's about to go. I'd never even set foot on the premises until I saw the CLOSING DOWN sign.
There were tables set out the front, a lawn at the back. Around the side there was a persimmon tree and a macadamia tree. The whole set-up was really pretty. I thought: "Beer."
But there was more at stake than last orders. The closure of Langtons signals a dying of the light on Lincoln Rd. It's the last glimpse or hint we'll ever have of Lincoln Rd as it once was, when the entire street was a verdant and beautiful Eden, with orchards and vineyards from one end to the other.
Langtons was originally a vineyard, set up by the Fredatovich family in 1937. There are two vintage rows of grapes at the splendid old red-brick house next door, where the 92-year-old Fredatovich matriarch was living until recently. She's now further down the road at the Glenarvon rest home.
Langtons carried on the wine business. But the family has sold the 14 hectare property. New owners are about to tear down the buildings, and put up some kind of residential complex in its place.
Que sera and all that but I felt gutted that this last little green pocket of Lincoln-land was about to disappear. Upset, too, that I'd never got around to sitting at Langtons of an afternoon to get completely toasted.
Blanc had a very wide range of craft beer. Ugh. I said to the barman: "What's the one which tastes most like Lion Red?" I got a 500ml bottle of Pacific red ale made by Kelston brewers Black Sands. It didn't taste anything like Lion Red, but it had 5% alcohol.
Gutted, upset...I sat out the front and drank in a dark mood. In the wind and rain, two flags flapped across the road - the New Zealand flag, and the McDonald's flag. One seemed more important and to have more power than the other, plus you could get fries with it. Is this what we are now? A second-rate trading post, desperate for business, in thrall to our American and Chinese masters?
I marched back into the bar and said: "I need rock. Got any Allman Brothers? Skynyrd? Tull?" He said he'd see what he could do. I sat down again and he put on The Eagles. God almighty! But the next track was "Rebel Rebel", and the one after that was "Ace of Spades."
Classic rock, strong beer, sad times at Langstons. I read the fine print on the Black Sands bottle. "Food match: chicken." It just so happened I had a doggy bag from Nando's Chicken. It went very well indeed with the red ale, and so did the left-over potato salad.
There's a wedding at Langtons on Saturday. There's one more after that, on Thursday, the last day it's open for business. Apparently the happy couple first met at Langtons. I raised my glass to the bride and groom, whoever they are, and drank to their health, to a love that found its way on Lincoln Rd.
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