Monday 24 September 2012


Thanks to Tim Blair, I wasted a few minutes of my life reading this dribble by a noted Fairfax columnist. I am reasonably familiar with Central Station (that's a train station for you out-of-towners) as I worked there many moons ago. See the photo below? In order to get to my workplace, I used to enter a door near where that bloke is standing. Except to get to the door, I had to leap over a metre wide puddle of piss each morning, because the doorway was a favourite place for winos to sleep. And the winos that slept there pissed in their pants. Every single morning. Before I got to work. And boy, they must have had a lot to drink before conking out, because the puddles were enormous. And deep. I am pleased to say I never, ever misjudged that leap and landed in a puddle.

Central Station was that kind of place. It's been spruced up since then - the stonework has been cleaned, the old pavement replaced and the dingy, dirty alcoves have been opened up and filled with shops. It's a hell of a lot better than it used to be.

But it's still an old train station.

Farrelly writes:

Still can’t believe people aren’t clamouring to fill these colonnades full of chic little tapas bars and smoky music joints.
Which just goes to show how out of touch she is with the economic geography of the area. Le Prick recently reviewed a fabo tapas bar at the other end of town that I am dying to try. What I hated most about the review is that not long ago, I was spending part of my working week in a building right over the road from Barrafina,  so I could have eaten there by now. However, I am no longer at that end of town, so a visit will have to wait.

But back to Central. Barrafina might survive where it is by extracting $50 from each patron on each visit. It's patrons can afford to spend $50 per visit because there are lots of financial companies clustered right around it, full of well paid employees. Barrafina would never survive at Central, because Central is full of people who are in a hurry to be somewhere else, and aren't interested in lingering over a beer and a few plates of boquerones - spanish white anchovies, extra virgin olive oil, parsley and chilli {seis}  13,20.

Having worked in the area, I can tell you that the office buildings down that way are full of public servants in grey, plastic slip-on shoes; or public servants in cardigans their mum knitted. The sort of people who don't live in the inner city - they all lived at least an hour away by train. Somewhere further out than Merrylands perhaps. Those people don't provide enough of a market for fancy tapas. The people I worked with didn't even go out for lunch - they were so stretched with mortgages etc, they brought vegemite sandwiches to work. They didn't even go out for coffee. The other inhabitants of the area are overseas students. Crammed 10 or 12 into a 3 bedroom apartment, buying rice in 5 kilo bags and living on packet noodles.

Farrelly might wish for a chic tapas bar, but that won't make it happen. I wish for a nice little pub at the end of my street - something like The Lord Dudley. It would be just close enough for me to be able to walk, but far enough away that we couldn't hear the drunken patrons spewing out at midnight. However, we all know that isn't going to happen - there needs to be a market for a pub like that to survive, and if you ask me, that market doesn't exist in this area.

As for "smoky music joints", it was thanks to Farrelly and her nanny-state mates at Fairfax that the "smoke" has long since been removed from "smoky music joints".


Steve at the Pub said...

It'll be a while before you visit the tapas bar at the other end of town?

I've just explained to a group here that someone (name redacted to preserve reputation) that a visit to an eatery is on the back shelf indefinitely, because of an entire 1km or thereabouts journey, on sealed roads, to get to it.

Oh boy o boy o boy, y'all oughta see the question marks of incomprehension hanging over the heads here.

Boy on a bike said...

It's not a matter of distance - it's a matter of time. Whilst I can cover 1km of open ground in 12 minutes, it takes way longer to walk that far through the city. Red lights, meandering tourists, people who walk slower than Queenslanders....they all add up to turn a 1km journey into a 20+ minute excursion. So that's a 40 minute round trip. When I do tapas, I like to have a few beers and sample plenty of plates, which means a long lunch. I just don't have time for a 40 minute slog across town and back combined with say a 90 minute sojourn in a tapas bar. If I have a really, really slow day at work and can afford to have half the afternoon off, I'll make the trip. But until then, it'll just have to wait unfortunately.

Steve at the Pub said...

Good point. I'll put that to them, though people who've just driven 60 miles or so, sometimes in uncertain conditions, are not always receptive to claims of " takes several minutes to get to restaurant X".

Can we blame Clover Moore for the difficulties experienced in attempting to reach fancy nosheries?