Friday, 8 February 2013

Bijou Batts and Dior Kaffies

My youngest daughter and I were walking down Macleay Street in Sydney the other night, looking for the restaurant where we were to meet my brother, when a couple came out of a bar, arm in arm. As they strolled along beside us, they began a high-volume conversation, which I couldn't help suspecting was being conducted for our benefit.

'Do you remember the shop where that lovely trans-gender girl used to sell frocks, down there on the left?' began the male of the couple.

'She's still there,' replied the woman, who, her voice revealed, was also a man. 'I bought a lovely chiffon skirt by Dior from her just the other day.'

'Oooh, have you got Dior couture in your wardrobe? I've only got vintage Dior.'

'My dear, if you want vintage, you should see my Balenciaga jacket: it's practically seamless - just a single piece of fabric; what a cutter!'

We tried to ignore this megaphone interchange, concentrating instead on the building numbers, searching for the one my brother had given us.

'There it is,' I cried, when I finally spotted it. The woman of the couple glanced over at the establishment I'd pointed out.

'Do you remember when that place used to be fashionable?' she asked and looked straight at me. Her expression suggested she'd trodden in something very unpleasant.

'I am so sick of being surrounded by mono-genders', she said, with a toss of her pony tail and then the two of them sauntered off into the night.


  1. I'm still in shock from reading a snippet of a letter from Alexander III to Prince Frederick of Bulgaria (as he briefly was), addressing him as "sa Altesse" and therefore necessarily "Elle". As the girl says in one of Saki's stories, "French is such a dreadfully unsexing language." But perhaps he would have been considered a mono-gender (what's the German for "highness", or for that matter the Bulgarian?)

    Between 15 and 20 years ago we were walking in downtown Washington, DC, and overheard the following conversation:

    a: ... Anyway, that's what Bill says.
    b: But what does Hillary say.

    A co-worker to whom I mentioned this suggested that the downtown business improvement district hired actors and actresses to hold such conversations and the streets and remind tourists that they were in a very important place. So perhaps the conversation was not meant to spite you so much as to make you understand how dreadfully chic the area is.

    1. I suppose there is also the possibility that Bill and Hilary might actually have friends who are allowed to roam free in the wider world. I do love Saki. There is one story I'm especially fond of that concerns a dog called Bertie and a very highly strung young man. We had a dog called Bertie when I read it and I imagined him in a leading role in the final scene of the story.

  2. "Times, they are a-changin'."

    What an astounding exchange.

    1. You lead such a sheltered life Chris.

    2. I should get out more. Maybe in a dress.

    3. If you're in the market, I've heard you can get a very nice frock from a lovely trans-gender girl who runs a little shop just off Macleay Street, Sydney.