Saturday, October 01, 2005

Of Questionable Morality Or Taste, Decadent

The total absence of food in my fridge yesterday drove me to have breakfast in the new café that's opened up on the corner of my street.

For some reason, the owners have chosen to name this place louche. Having double-checked with my good friend dictionary.com, I can state with confidence that louche means "of questionable morality or taste, decadent." And decadent means "in a state of decline or decay".

This is a pretty spicy set of connotations for what is essentially a slightly upmarket greasy spoon in the backwaters of Shepherd's Bush. You can tell it's slightly upmarket because it serves excellent coffee, and the clientele, to a man, yea even unto myself, were toting copies of the New Guardian.

In fact I didn't observe any questionable morality at all, unless the nice middle class toddlers waving gleefully at each other and throwing their Dads' credit cards around the floor were the product of illicit post-millennial liaisons that took place behind the impeccably gloss-painted, solid front doors of the bourgeois mansions in nearby Ashchurch Grove. Which is possible.

As far as "questionable taste" goes, well, the name is spelled with a lower-case "l", which, as any fule kno, is *so* 1990s. But on the other hand, the name doesn't appear anywhere on the frontage of the building, which is very Noughties. Although the usual reason for the absence of signage on fashionable drinking establishments is to prevent hoi polloi and other undesirables finding their way in and disrupting the non-stop celebrity coke-fest taking place in the confusingly black gloss-painted, black marble-floored toilets. I didn't investigate the toilets at all, but I'm pretty sure that this kind of thing wouldn't have been happening in there.

Thirdly, "in a state of decline or decay". There is a cheery school of thought, I forget which one, that says that everything enters into a state of decline from the moment of its creation. louche opened a week ago, so by existentialist standards it's well into its inevitable downward trajectory by now. So I'll give them that.

As to decay, I didn't notice any - the place is as spruce and spick and span as you would expect from a slightly upmarket greasy spoon with pleasing artworks on the walls, cheap but serviceable pine tables, excellent coffee and a pretty waitress with apple cheeks, bee-stung lips and more than a passing resemblance to Liv Tyler. Although I suppose there could have been the bodies of any number of rats, mice, grey squirrels, foxes etc. rotting away under the pleasingly reassuring stripped-pine floorboards.

louche, then. Almost certainly a misnomer. Excellent coffee, though.

20 comments:

Juggling Mother said...

ah, but were they toting copies of the Guardian for the fre dvd, rather than their "upmarket" facade?

LC said...

Christ on a pogo-stick! No wonder you seem to despise every bar, cafe and restaurant in Chiswick and beyond if you put this level of critical analysis into something as trivial as the venue's name.

If anybody's at all interested, my favourite up-market greasy spoon in London is the Quality Chop House: http://www.london-eating.co.uk/127.htm

patroclus said...

Mrs A: Yes indeed, as a very recent convert to the Guardian I was pleasantly surprised to learn that they give you lovely free gifts of Madness of King George DVDs. All you used to get from the Times was atrociously banal insights (note to self: pot, kettle, etc.) into the atrociously banal life of Kate Muir. That and the world's greatest cryptic crossword, of course.

LC: Trivial? On the contrary; names are very, very important. Just ask any brand consultant, novelist or screenwriter.

I'd like to point out, however, that my own screen name has no significance whatsoever. But like Terry Thing said, the location of meaning doesn't necessarily lie with the originator.

LC said...

Ah, but that which we call a rose, etc...

patroclus said...

Yes, but Shakespeare was just having a laugh there. As if Romeo and Juliet itself doesn't have characters with very significant names. Benvolio and Mercutio, for a start...

*Patroclus eyes the rising water table and concludes she will very shortly be out of her depth*

LC said...

LC is already wearing his snorkel, and is going to stop pretending he knows anything at all about Shakespeare before he makes himself look very silly indeed.

patroclus said...

Fear not - it's almost impossible to know less about Shakespeare than I do. One day (soon) my proper intellectual friends like cello and pashmina will discover me for the fraud, impostor and charlatan that I surely am.

cello said...

Pish and tush, pat. I've seen you swim confidently in the deepest, shark-infested intellectual waters and escape unscathed. I have only ever been able to survive in academic oceans by owning a pair of unfeasibly large breasts which save me from drowning. The only waters I could beat you in would be the rapids of baroque opera I suspect. I think I've stretched your metaphor beyond breaking point. Sorry.

Thought of you this evening watching a very informative BBC4 doc about prime numbers, which featured Alan Turing a lot. Remind me to ask you why you're so into him next time I see you.

And lc, I think I read an interesting piece of yours this week.

cello said...

What I meant was - the piece was definitely interesting and the only matter of doubt is your authorship of it.

Wyndham said...

My God, I've been face down in this conversation ever since reading it. I'm off to find the office copy of OK!

Jack Spanners said...

Bringing the level of intellect down a wee bit: Pat I love the fact that you've put your blog links in alphabetical order. I noticed that Pashmina's are the same. Alphabetical order is truly a thing of beauty and should be treaured.

hen said...

Bringing it right down. Unless of course your name is Andy Applegate and it is the order of play for a compulsory cat shit eating competition. Zach Zimmerman would obviously have more time to plot his escape or pray for an appropriate natural disaster.

Jack Spanners said...

Well you say that but the Andy Applegate that I know has been national cat shit eating champion for 3 years running now and has always considered going first to give him a huge advantage.

(Sorry Patroclus.)

patroclus said...

No need to apologise, Jack - all manner of debate is encouraged here. I like to think of this blog as being a bit like Socrates' gaff in ancient Athens.

Only maybe without the beards and the hemlock. And the underage sex.

*Patroclus's statcounter promptly fizzles down to zero*

hen said...

No beards, hemlock and underage sex!!
Isn't that what the internet for! Oh and talking about handbags now the girls have turned up.

LC said...

>>>And lc, I think I read an interesting piece of yours this week.<<<<

I very much doubt it - I'm quite sure I haven't written anything interesting since the nineties. What makes you think it was me?

patroclus said...

I expect that cello read it in one of those Friday email newsletters you get from self-publicising marketing and PR agencies. Which means it was probably something about an army of killer Japanese robots...

LC said...

Ah, I see. What I meant to say, of course, is that I haven't written anything interesting since the nineties, except for the very high quality and always fascinating material I currently produce for my employers.

Ahem...

Urban Chick said...

late to the game again...but am i right in thinking you are talking about underage sex?

gosh, such breadth, P, such breadth

and i had you down as an interlekchooal

**applause**

Merkin said...

Ah, the Bushgeoise. I was in louche a couple of weeks ago, and can tell you that the lavatories were lovely. However, "the ladies" are always disgusting in these places I understand, so I'd put on a Homburg if I were you, and mosey on down to the other side. In "The Bush", no-one questions anything...