Sydney Nostalgia Trip

I don’t expect I am alone in sometimes wishing that I could visit the 1920s. Despite Woody Allen’s reminder that they didn’t have penicillin those days, there is still a profound appeal to the thought of attending a Gatsby party or run into Tallulah at an underground speak-easy. This is why Sydney’s ‘The Baxter Inn’ proved to be such a delight. Directed up a dark side alley off Clarence Street by my friend and bustled into a small queue beside a row of dustbins I was slightly dubious, but as I pushed open the door at the bottom of a concrete staircase, the sounds of jazz met my ears. As it was underground the bar was fairly dark but lit in a way that gave it a soft orange hue. Everything about it felt warm and glowing. Even the cocktails; I ordered an Annabel Lee for the Poe reference; and it contained honey and was topped with burnt orange peel. Behind the bar the walls were covered in a vast array of whisky bottles and the bartenders used sliding library ladders to reach those higher up. It is a lovely pocket of nostalgia in a bustling modern city and although it is not quite Fat Sam’s Grandslam, at least no one had shot me in the face with custard while I was there. At least not yet.
Another excursion into a retro past came from a visit to the Golden Age Cinema in Surrey Hills. This beautiful old school cinema has a wonderful and carefully selected programme, including, at the time of my visit, one heavy with Bill Murray favourites. The screening I chose was of Wes Anderson’s ‘The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou’, partly because of the free Campari and Soda it promised. Although Bill Murray can be found in 99% of Wes Anderson’s back catalogue this one was one of my favourite performances as we follow Murray’s hapless and self centred Zissou through the series of bizarre events that the film depicts. Being ultimately charmed by this charismatic lead, albeit grudgingly. With the added bonus of the vintage glass Campari bottles the ultimate trendy red and white paper straws it was a shock to return to the bright lights of Saturday night in the city.

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