WHAT MAY APPEAR TO BE FRENCH, IS NOT ALWAYS FRENCH.

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It’s cold. The sun, a spent force, has disappeared over the horizon and in its wake a few sullen grey clouds edged in magenta are left scudding before the encroaching indigo of night. A mean-spirited breeze inserts icy fingers under collars and in between the gaps of tightly buttoned jackets.

Merthyr village is bustling with people purchasing last minute items for dinner. All are anxious for the warmth of heathside and home. In front of the New Farm Deli, vehicles circle like carrion-eaters in search of vacant car space. The impatient toot of car horns rend the cold night air.

Making our way past the optometrists, Beau and I are suddenly waylaid by two conspicuously soignee young men. Their manner of dress, even by New Farm standards, could only be described as astonishingly exotic.

Both are encased in buttoned up, full length velvet coats. The taller of the two in vermillion, while the shorter man is breathtakingly adorned in rich cobalt blue. These splendid jackets, bedizened with gold braid and buttons fall in graceful folds over skinny black jeans. On their feet they wear matching gold sneakers. Reluctantly dragging my eyes from the wonder of their aureate high-tops, I am next transfixed by the arrangement of their hair.

The men’s tonsorial affectations are so acute in execution it’s enough to cause one’s eyes to water. Hair the colour of a raven’s wing rise from pale foreheads in identical vertiginous quiffs while the sides and back are clipped so close, naked scalp is painfully visible.

“Oh look more French,” exclaims the shorter of the two in accents so fruity it sounds as if he may have swallowed an entire orchard of plums.

“We just saw a Renault and now we come across a French Poodle!” he cries excitedly and waves a languid hand in the direction of Beau. Beau, normally insouciant in the face of admiration, is suddenly shy and darts behind my legs.

Turning to me the taller man fixes me with an assessing eye and says, “You’re French also.”

It’s more a statement than an enquiry.

“No I’m Australian,” I feel compelled to correct.

“But you were wearing a trench coat this morning at Chouquette.”

“Yes, that’s correct.”

“So you are French!  At least your parents are French?” interjects my relentless inquisitor.

“No, my father is English and my mother was four generations Australian,” I say, growing more than a little bemused at the Dadaesque direction this conversation was taking.

“Oh really! You’re really quite ordinary then?” says the shorter one looking unbelievably disappointed, his countenance an exercise in peevishness.

Feeling by now, slightly prosaic, if not resentful and put upon, I respond: “Well, I’m more than ordinary. I rather see myself as extra-ordinary.” The play on words and my feeble attempt at hauteur are met with the most crushing disdain.

“Extraordinary?“ they bleat in unison. Their carefully manicured brows form perfect exclamation marks, a reaction to the temerity of my over-confident observation.  “We certainly don’t think so!”  they sniff dismissively and then with a theatrical flourish of their velvet coats they are gone, leaving behind them the distinct waft of Christian Dior’s Poison and a faintly disturbing miasma of ill will.

Later that evening, at dinner, I tell Hebe about my bruising encounter with the two sartorialists. She is quick to explain, “Darling, obviously not New Farmers. They must be some dreadful tourists from the outer suburbs!”

“Oh?” I say perplexedly. “Why do you say that?”

“People from New Farm would know that Poodles are German, not French!” says Hebe with annihilating certitude.

I do adore Hebe. So clever for her to see immediately it was all about Beau and nothing to do with me whatsoever. I really must stop thinking that it is always about me!

EATING OUT AND THE FASHIONISTA

Fashion-girls

Eating out in the Peninsula is fraught with the possibility of committing a social faux-pas for the uninitiated fashionista. The rules and rituals are as complex as any of those found in Louis XIV’s Versailles…. all of which were  understood and not found in a rule book for convenient perusal.

Fashionistas are an exotic mix of ages and personal style, but share a defining interest … a passion to be seen in the right place at the right time.

Novelty attracts this colourful crowd to a café, bar or restaurant and the desire to be it’s first patrons. Its a bonus if the food is good. But when you spend a months salary on a pair of Jimmy Choo’s its more like you will eat at home… usually baked beans on toast, and just make an appearance. A ploy often used by impoverished Fasionistas is the promise to “Meet you there”. When they don’t show, no one is upset. Its was understood, “Your broke and its two weeks to payday”.

The Fashionista is completely savvy regarding where to be seen and not be seen. For example, it may be the first degree of coolness to take breakfast at a certain establishment only to be considered de trop if caught lunching there. Dinner can be enjoyed almost anywhere without fear of censure providing its mid-week. The initiated never dine out on weekend evenings. Why?

Too many tourists (people from other suburbs ) and non-fasionistas ( people who don’t share their more refined sensibilities )

The weekend is for bar hopping and its the most difficult of all to get right.

There are bars where you drink martinis exclusively. Others you visit only on Saturday afternoons and one so secret, very few know of it’s existence.

Confusing ?.. Yes.

Amusing?.. Perhaps.

Important?.. No…. well, at least not for the liberated. But for the burgeoning fashionista who wants to get it right, take heart with this piece of advice.

Should you find yourself in the unenviable position of being in the right place at the wrong time and you lock eyes with another wannabe fashionista, it’s quite alright to ignore each other.

The sole reason being, neither one of you is really there!