OK, call me a grumpy old man but for Christ’s sake what has happened to society? Maybe Margaret Thatcher was right when she said it didn’t exist and that was before she opined that any man over the age of 26 who rode on a bus is a failure.

Crikey readers who are self funded retirees, pensioners or those lucky souls whose children have despatched them to maximum security twilight homes will probably recall my ramblings of many years when they filled the pages of Mode – yes, it was once a magazine -and the old Melbourne Herald when it was broadsheet.

Those were the days when an “A list” was an “A list” and to get on it was usually by accident of birth or good behaviour when money was made and the translation from Thomastown to Toorak was never mentioned and in many cases never suspected. I was flattered to be told by a former butler of Richard and Jeanne Pratt’s that he found a huge cache of old Mode magazines when he was cleaning out the Pratt cottage before the couple moved to “Raheen”.

“Reading through your old columns I got a true picture of what Melbourne was really all about “, he said.

So there. That was quite nice, nicer than my last foray into the leafy Toorak milieu for a pre-Cup party when I was accosted by someone I had never met who said to me: “usen’t you to be Barry Everingham?”

I knew then having a look at this year’s Cup wasn’t going to be fun but I was reminded it could be worse when I overheard the child of a recent “A lister” asking its mother as a well know identity walked by: “what’s he supposed to be?”

So off I went – by train to Flemington. And I stupidly thought a visit to the Birdcage and a reconnoitre of the Emirates, SAAB, Moet et al obscenities would be a trip down memory lane. Hello! I must admit the private party going on in the Birdcage was full of, in the main, people like us, as our mothers used to say.

The ranks are thinning though – where are the town and country types of yesteryear? Sure, I waved to Red and Sonia, saw Roz and Sally and Andrew and Penne and some of the die-hards. Don’t tell anyone but I did see a few from Brighton and thought – things have sure have changed. Brighton. Oh dear.

In one of my better Mode columns I raised the ire of many when I reported I had actually crossed that great social divide called Dandenong Road and accepted a dinner invitation from a Brighton couple – I’d broken the habit of a lifetime and got into trouble from our own people, as our Mothers would say, and never did it again, even if it did mean not seeing Coral Knowles.

I didn’t have to – today’s “A list” seems to be overflowing with people from Brighton or people who behave as though that’s where they are from. Why is it that today’s “A lister” arrives at parties with a hairdresser and drug dealer in tow and why do the women feel it’s necessary to have most of their mammary glands on show?

The women I once wrote about as a rule never behaved in such a way, and those who did – usually the Brighton girls – ended up in the bush with the photographer. And in those days the blokes didn’t appear in jeans with holes in the knees and they didn’t wear them so low over the waist that their happy trails showed; they sure didn’t wear thongs and as a rule didn’t highlight their eyes with shadow or their lips with gloss – well not obviously anyway – and one big no-no was an overload of bling – except of course if he was from Brighton.

Oh well, everything old is new again; we hope. Watch this space next year and we’ll see if things have changed.

Peter Fray

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