The Brit pop group Blur wrote an ironic song called Boys and Girls about the androgynous herding instincts of Brits on holiday. Given the myths in circulation about aussie hipsters today I’m sure the same happens with our lot in Greece, Japan, Bali etc. A few nights ago I accompanied a friend to a Darlinghurst gallery to see an exhibition of photography in newly gentrified East Sydney, so different from the down at heel, run down hippie streets of the 70’s/80’s. The Govinda restaurant was still there while its ashram was round the corner: hare Krishna, hare Krishna; Krishna, Krishna, hare, hare; hare Rama, hare Rama; rama, rama, hare hare.
Afterwards, we dined in a German restaurant, a legend even in the 70’s. It was a 3 waitress place, packed to the rafters. The table behind ours was filled with hipsters drinking those huge flutes of beer; their laughter grew commensurately. The volume of noise in fact was ear piercing; it must be that, like the recluse in A Rebours, I simply do not often expose myself to such experiences.
Afterwards, my dining companion remarked that the French would not have tolerated such conditions, labelling them “mal eduque”. Even in Sydney there is a wonderful restaurant, Mere Catherine in Victoria Street Potts Point; bookings are required three months in advance since there are but six or so tables; the atmosphere hums at whisper level above the occasional. minute kitchen noises. Needless to say, the quality of the food is indescribable.
Likewise, my friend talked about places that were to be found on Japanese streets, barely booths seating four people. Imagine the quiet attention to detail, the reticent quality; my favourite Japanese restaurant in Wolli Creek is such a place, if only for the fact, apart from the ravishing quality of the deep fried battered chicken, that as we have become regular clients we are greeted with a pot of green tea mixed with toasted rice.
I have the darkest suspicion that the English/Australian impulse is to congregate densely like a bees’ nest and thus assert the validity of their collective if not individual identity.