A few years ago I used to work in a café near ABC’s Elsternwick studio. I was a shitty waitress and was eventually fired. (I blamed it on antisemitism, but it was probably just because I was a shitty waitress). One thing I became all too familiar with during my time there was the stereotype of Melbourne I actually adore the most, ABC types. They are a distinct creature and aren’t just limited to those that work at the ABC (academics, curators and government employess also fit into this broad category).
ABC types exist on the periphery of the real world. Casually sitting at cafe tables around Melbourne, they discuss Catherine Deveny’s latest column in ‘The Age’ opinion section with the same glimmer that my former Chadstone colleagues used to talk about Chasers’s new club night. While not all of them were born and bred in the heart of the city, they have each adopted a distinct twang which sounds a little British, a little snobby but always Australian. For some reason they always seem to be wearing red lipstick, big chunky necklaces and penchant for striped tops (glasses too for that bookish,’The Graduate’ style look). My mum has often attempted to master this look and, god bless her, she DOES watch the ABC and read ‘The Age’, but with her lipstick all too often entering teeth territory and her necklaces being weird knockoffs from ‘Targey’ (an ABC type would also never call chain store Target ‘tarjey’) she just misses the mark.
Members of this Melbourne stereotype think that John Howard’s immigration policy was ‘bullshit, pardon my French’ and feel that their vote for the Greens in the senate excludes them from actually having to install a water tank. Red Wine, The A2, breakfasts on Sundays, Karen Martini recipes, uproarious laughter: these are all hallmarks of the ABC type. Keep your eye out for this distinctive creature in the cafes of Melbourne and if, like myself, you do happen to be serving them a latte one day, make sure you learn their name. They love being on a firstname basis with their barista (it makes them feel like they still have the common touch).