The Tough Guys are back in town

After two months of COVID-enforced hibernation the Tough Guys are back – and this time they’re reading Steinbeck.
The return of the Castlemaine chapter of Tough Guy Book Club to the town’s Taproom venue has been none too soon for the local members of this international book club for blokes.
“To see everyone come out of isolation and start chatting again, having a beer together. It’s a good thing,” founder of the Castlemaine chapter Alex Playsted says.
“We all sit down and have rich conversations. To find guys from all walks of life who can get along and have something in common has been one of the more enriching experiences for me.”
For the past two months the local Tough Guys – like others around the world – have been making do with online Zoom sessions for their regular meets to dissect the latest book on their list.
But Alex says the online catch-ups could hardly take the place of their usual atmospheric brew-and-book sessions that tend to take place in pubs or the like.
The Tough Guy Book Club is known not just as a means to feed the mind, but also the spirit, affording a valuable means for horizon-broadening social connection among men.
“Some of the books we read are quite confronting in the subjects they deal with and it makes you think outside of what you’re used to,” member Bryan Clark says.
“The social connectivity is probably the most I get out of it, and it’s not just guys my age, it’s a multi-generational bunch as well who share not just ideas and thoughts about the book but also ideas and thoughts about life,” fellow member Jeremy Forbes says.
“There’s two main rules,” Alex Playsted notes.
“The first is ‘Don’t Talk about Work’. We like to think that we’re a lot more than our jobs.
“The other is ‘Don’t be a Dickhead’ – is probably the nicest way of saying it. It’s a really good bunch of guys who tend to keep each other in check.”
Right now, the Castlemaine chapter of the club is in contention for this year’s National Men’s Health Forum Awards to be announced during Men’s Health Week, which started yesterday.
“Meeting a whole bunch of new guys has been awesome, people that I wouldn’t necessarily have crossed paths with otherwise and being introduced to a whole range of reading that I wouldn’t necessarily have gone for otherwise,” member Alex Parsons says.
“I was getting into a bit of a rut with what I was reading so this has broadened my horizons,” another local Tough Guy, Robert Johnson says.
“And the club itself is just great for camaraderie and making new connections with people you wouldn’t necessarily meet every day. It’s a great meeting of minds. I call it a men’s shed for the mind.”
The local chapter has been going for about three years, has about 25 members on its books and is always keen to welcome new blokes who need simply to rock up to gatherings that happen 7pm every first Wednesday of the month at the Taproom.

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