Saturday, August 25, 2007

Sydney's Beer Culture

Back on 16 August I ran a story on the Regional Australia blog about the differences between Sydney and Melbourne.

This week the Sydney media has run hot on a proposal by Sydney's Lord Mayor to change the licensing laws to allow a wider variety of small cafes and bars. Part of her argument lies in the fact that Sydney is losing out to Melbourne.

Now the rigid and archaic NSW licensing laws are an example of something that I have complained about, the fact that rigid uniformity - national or state - is not always a good thing. Licensing laws are a good example of this. However, that was not what I wanted to write about.

In reading the SMH story on the issue, I was struck by an apparent quote from the president of the NSW Hotel's Association. He was quoted as saying:

Sydneysiders may not be barbarians, he said, but they did not "want to sit in a hole and drink chardonnay and read a book".

"People can sit down, talk about history, chew the fat and gaze into each other's eyes and all this sort of baloney but it's pie in the sky stuff".

"That's not what Sydney wants."

If accurately reported, I find this quite remarkable.

I, for one, like sitting down with a glass of chardonnay (and many other things) to read a book. I certainly like talking about history. Chewing the fat sounds good. Gazing into eyes also sounds good, although my wife may have something to say here.

Now I am not a Sydneysider. Nor am I nineteen. I am not opposed to the pub scene, but I really do find Melbourne very civilised. And Paris, or Venice, or Florence, or Rome. But not Sydney.

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