Pork Knuckles, Table Care and Fool’s Gold


At 7pm Garry, one of the co-hosts, pulls this beautiful stone, see above, out of his pocket, “Gentlemen, let’s begin. Here is the talking piece,”says Garry. Before that moment the talk has been on the merits of the pork knuckle that is on the menu. “Delicious, but very fatty, I probably will not order it again,” said Garry. There was agreement around the Table.

We are at The Newstead Hotel in Launceston and MT48 is settling in for their monthly Table. The food has been ordered and the wood fire stoked, it’s not so cold tonight, but still, it’s Tasmania! Last Tuesday it was minus 4 at 7am. That is very cold, even for a Pom.

We have a group of men joining the Table and I am there just to go over the Fundamentals and make sure that there is a smooth transition. I say, “I’ll run through the basics again, have my meal and then bugger off. I’m your guest here so I do not want to overstay my welcome, this is your Table.” I am then invited to stay all evening! A lovely moment for me.

Dave, the other co-host, starts by formally welcoming the men to the Table. It was lovely and heart-warming and a real acknowledgement of their commitment to showing up. It was a signal of commitment from the Table and from the new men coming to the Table.

Right at the start Dave put some Table Care issues out there. The stone was talked about, as was the fact that pulling the stone out of Garry’s pocket was a lovely simple way of signifying the start of a Table. There was discussion about a potential preamble at the start; words like commitment, confidentiality, support and community were put on the Table. In the end, everyone agreed that lighting a candle at the start and blowing it out at the end would really signify that this is the place where “we don’t just talk about footy and shit”.

Let’s go off on a tangent here for a while. Why do I go to a Table? I go for numerous reasons, however, one of the main reasons is to listen to what other men have to say from their heart. Not the boring old stories of the general push and shove of life. The good stuff, the stuff that is surprising and wonderful and heartfelt. A new man who was sitting at the Table for the first time grabbed hold of the stone, introduced himself and recited a poem he had written many years ago about his life. Warts ‘n all, his tough upbringing, his battles and the scars he showed us. He just dropped it on the Table with raw emotion, it was stunning; you could hear a pin drop. This brave man, right up front…bang. It was a moment in time that helps glue a Table together. It was gold.

Back to the stone, the talking piece. I asked Garry what it was and where it came from. “It’s from The Franklin River over on the remote west coast of Tassie; I picked it up out of the river as it was glistening at me; the freezing, crystal clear water was almost pointing out this rock for me to pick up. I’ve had it for years and thought it would make a great talking piece for the Table. It’s full of fool’s gold, people think it’s gold in fact it’s just iron pyrites.”

Throughout the evening the glistening stone got passed around from man to man. Whoever had the stone got the right to be listened to and to talk. It made for a great evening. Maybe your Table could use a talking piece, it could be as simple as a napkin or it could be something that turns out to be real gold, not just fool’s gold. Call the Kitchen if you would like some guidance on how to use a talking piece at your Table. Or, have a go yourself with a few simple guidelines. Here’s some examples;

– whoever is holding the piece has the floor
– put the piece back in the centre rather than passing it on, once you’ve you’re done
– silence is OK whilst holding the piece
– take up the piece when you feel moved to


~ Ben Hughes

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