It’s organic – changing face of our East End
MISS Gladys Sym Choon is the queen of the CBD’s East End and her shop is ever a great joy. The East End was long dominated by the Adelaide Fruit and Produce Exchange – a netherworld of night workers and grocers green, and classic pubs that opened before dawn for the barrow men and, later, forklift drivers and dealers in swedes and parsnips and rhubarb. Big drinkers, they. Rundle St and East Tce would be littered with the detritus of the bounty of the earth and the fullness thereof, to paraphrase the grand legend carved in stone on the Grenfell St facade of the old market.
The urban experience is always in flux. The raffish West End of Hindley St used to be brothels, derros, a bowling alley and Marcellina’s restaurant. Now it’s much less interesting.
There was a time in the life of our city – fondly recalled – when, wherever you wanted to go, you parked out the front. The East End was quiet in the 1970s and ’80s – a few dusty shops, offices of wholesale fruiterers, a good Goodwill op shop with a splendid book section, a foreign bookshop and the redoubtable Sophie van Rood’s Banana Room selling superb vintage clobber. And Charlick’s feed and grain.
The excellent Italian eatery Don Giovanni’s opened late and was open on Sundays.
Then there was La Mensa, Ruby’s Cafe, and Tapas. You could get Sunday breakfast (hitherto impossible) at Ruby’s with the nightclubbers.
Then Alfresco and Rundle St became Cappuccino Canyon and the era of the Exeter Hotel where the original hipsters led by Philip White and Steve Grieve drank. A lot. The Exeter was never my beat but I like the building and its sea green glass tiles.
Then cinemas and cafes and shops and still the men and women come and go, especially in and out of the wonderful Smokelovers, which is the last tobacconist.
I went to the East End recently to lunch at the excellent Hey Jupiter – an exquisite French bistro in Ebenezer Place. It looks fabulous and the food is even better.
It’s chic for normal people. It’s French tucker for normal people. It’s Paris without the attitude and at a fraction of the price. This is the best restaurant in our square mile. Wow! It’s the jewel in the crown of the East End. Go.
Sit in dappled shade in Ebenezer Place and enjoy Hey Jupiter, Parwana Afghan Kitchen; the legendary Frank the barber who still sells bay rum; the groovy Midwest Trader (yee-ha); Urban Cow with lovely South Australian art and craft in Cinema Place; Streetlight with books, DVDs and music of stunning taste; Bauhaus; M J Bale, the trendy and reasonably priced menswear store for trendy, reasonably priced men; and the East End Cellars, the emporium of wine and tasting plates.
See a movie. Browse. Eat. Check out the Australian Friends of Palestine shopfront on Frome Rd, next to a charming store selling ’70s teak buffets and orange things which is never open when I visit.
And visit Miss Gladys Sym Choon. You’re singing her choon in the East End. It’s softly trendy, amenable and not self-conscious. Its charms have grown organically and comfortably.
The only negative is those bloody coins the council embedded in the footpaths to torment those in need.
YOU would think those who wait a whole year to trot out their annual criticisms of the Melbourne Cup could have used the time in between to refine their position, deepen their thinking and present at least one sliver of opinion that wasn’t as predictable as the terrible pun at the start of this sentence.
There are opinion writers and mercenary mouthpieces all over the country who have the first week of November marked in their calendars alongside a furiously scrawled note that reads: “Must remember to pour scorn on spring racing and those who dare enjoy it”.
It’s nothing more than wowserism, snobbishness and misplaced sentimentality wrapped up into a big furry ball of sanctimoniousness and shoved down the throats of a nation that stops for a race.
Never mind that the race, and the multiple days of world-class racing surrounding it, injects almost half a billion dollars into the economy. Never mind the fact that racing and its associated industries employ tens of thousands of people.
The wowserism and snobbishness are intrinsically linked, a chance for the comfortably superior to look down their noses at the over-excitable teetering on awkward heels at the end of a big day, the aesthetically challenged blokes in neoncoloured nylon suits, the excessivelywatered taking a little kip underneath Flemington’s famous roses.
If a drink and a punt are on the endangered list in today’s Australia we’re all in more trouble than we thought.
Then there’s the animal cruelty angle. Racing presents inherent dangers to those who participate – both man and beast – and I understand the humans can choose to participate but the animals cannot.
But the reality is those animals are bred for that purpose. Their very existence is the result of the racing some seek to ban. Not many horses are brought into this world because a young stallion met a nice filly and decided to settle down and have kids.
That a small percentage of racehorses die on the track is unfortunate and I, for one, would welcome an end to jumps racing and the significant reduction in those numbers it would bring. But the total abolition of thoroughbred racing that some advocate wouldn’t do any favours for the horses with us now or those yet to be.
Unless, of course, there’s a sudden spike in demand for inner-city pony clubs or decaf soy lattes delivered by dray.
And let’s not get sidetracked by some malformed idiot in Port Lincoln punching his mount behind the stalls. A two-week ban is clearly deficient in this case; he should never be allowed to ride again – but no sensible person could argue he’s representative of an entire industry.
Think instead about the way Hugh Bowman works with Winx, remember the way Tommy Woodcock nurtured Phar Lap and understand there’s more love for these animals among those who work closely with them than there ever will be among those whose outrage is seasonal and is just like hayfever – an irritant that comes around every spring.
HUB OF ACTIVITY: Hey Jupiter owner Christophe Zauner and, inset, a vendor at the East End produce markets in the 1890s.
Main picture: MARK BRAKE