Friday, March 16, 2007

Mediterranean Bondi

There's an article in the Australian press about a pair of promoters who would like to transform Bondi into a Riviera-style place like Nice or St Tropez. I'm reminded of a joke. An American tourist is admiring the green lawns of Oxford University. He asks a gardener: "What's the secret for having lawns like that?" The gardener replies that there's no great secret. "You simply water the grass regularly, then you mow it from time to time and you run over it with a roller. You simply keep on doing that for a few centuries."

Antique Nice was founded by the Greeks half a millennium before Jesus Christ, and developed by the Romans. Today, it has become the fifth largest city in France. It's crazy to imagine that a couple of hotel-owners could magically transform Bondi into an ersatz Nice. Paraphrasing the words about a drink that's supposed to imitate whisky, you might say: It looks nice, it tastes nice, but it just ain't Nice.

As for St Tropez, that's a different kettle of fish. It used to be a quaint fishing village until celebrities such as Picasso, Françoise Sagan and Brigitte Bardot moved in there. Unfortunately, apart from the blue water, the physical setting of Bondi doesn't look anything like that of St Tropez. I really don't believe that people can suddenly decide to invest money with a view to making such-and-such a place look and feel like another famous place... unless, of course, we're talking of Disneyland creations. [On French TV, I recently saw a copy of an English village reconstructed in China, God only knows why.]

There's saying in French that probably exists too in English: "If my aunt had balls, she would be my uncle." If Bondi could suddenly acquire a Mediterranean look, charm and sophistication, it would indeed be a Riviera resort.

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