It’s or­ganic – chang­ing face of our East End

Sunday Mail - - OPINION -

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

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