Thursday, April 19, 2007

Alternative Pubs, alternative pastimes

How do you find out where the gay scene is if that is your inclination? Nowadays, it is straight forward, you buy Gay News or search on the Internet.

Of course, thirty years ago, everyone quietly knew where they were through received wisdom, either to seek out or to avoid (or if you were a total brainless nobhead, to go and cause trouble in). In Newcastle, the Pineapple in Eldon Square was well known, although the terminology wasn't politically correct then, it was "Where the Puffs gan." In Coventry, it was a Pub in the High Street which had the same name as another one out of town (which probably caused some confusion) - The Rose & Crown.

I got involved with some theatrical types in a campaign to save the Coventry Theatre in the 70s and was invited into the R & C one lunchtime. I didn't quite know what to expect and was a bit wary but was relieved to find that it was just like any other pub, although possibly with better hanging baskets (with pansies in, irony at its best!)

In subsequent places I have lived, I haven't really known (or cared) where the gay pubs where. However, there is (or rather, was) a steam room/sauna up the road from our work called "Rimmers" that was the butt of some jokes, on the basis of the name and allusions to "tossing the salad" (don't click if you'd rather not know!) I say was, because there was a huge fire in that block and the buildings are now burnt out shells, in the process of being demolished.

Anyhoo, someone from work found a leaflet blowing in the street advertising Rimmers Gay Sauna & Steam so there was some substance to the jokes. Whilst rimming isn't an exclusively gay pastime, it is probably assumed to be from the Little Britain Daffyd Thomas sketches.

It turns out that the Sun Inn next door is a gay fun pub with accommodation and that survived the fire. (It seems that Rimmers had already closed previously). I never knew it was a gay pub before seeing it in the local paper and why would I? It is rather drab looking and there are no obvious clues.

It seems everyone else knew but me though, received wisdom strikes again...


Ian Appleby said...

I know the Sun of old, through both reputation and custom; I can't say it was a fixture on our circuit, but it was certainly not unusual for us to call in. I don't know to what extent we were welcome visitors - even in the Bradford post-punk scene, there was a fair amount of unreconstructed masculinity on display - but for us the attraction was the lack of edge we sometimes felt in the more "towny" pubs, and we were never made to feel unwelcome. I'm sure the same sense of a safe haven was true for the gay clientele, although I would hesitate to suggest that we faced the same levels of hostility from Bradford's drinkers as gay men did/do.

Delicolor said...

Ian, you are probably aware that it is just down the road from an Islamic centre of some kind. The religion of peace does not approve of gays or drinking (and presumably doubly disapproves of gays drinking).

I imagine they turn a blind eye to each other.

Realpolitik said...

Reminds me of the time I was sat in the Reclaim bar in Leeds thinking "this bar is tastefully decorated".

Then a few minutes later "this bar is very tastefully decorated".

Then a few minutes later "this bar is so tastefully decorated it must have been done by a homosexual".

Then "that barman is very camp isn't he...?"

Delicolor said...

There is a boarding house in Scarborough run by a gay couple, one of whom is an excellent photographer. They welcome people of any inclination, but not kids so we won't be staying there in the foreseeable future (unless we get a parent-pass- out to see a good show at the Stephen Joseph).

Ian Appleby said...

Aye, but it's not exclusively and entirely a Muslim preoccupation, though, is it? The Harp of Erin is also just round the corner. Ask Mr Paisley, or indeed some in the Catholic or Anglican confession, what they feel about homosexuality.

My late grandmother, whose birthday, incidentally, was April 23rd, used to get tipsy on sherry at Christmas, and then warn me of the dangers of drink; she was a Methodist. She was most upset when I moved out from my parents and in with my girlfriend at the time; it's as well it wasn't a boyfriend, I think.

Incidentally, have you seen what the Oakleigh is, these days?

Delicolor said...

Ian A, I should think that most religious types regard Sunbridge Road as a den of iniquity, various trades catering to perversion, pay as you go and Usury.

Whilst i work in BD1, I don't really know it so I don't know what the Oakleigh is.

Ian Appleby said...

The Oakleigh was a trad real ale boozer just off Manningham Lane, my local when I was still at school ;) I remember celebrating a mate's 18th in there, and the landlord - Roy, was it? - coming over with a pint for him. "Here you go, son," he said, "Happy birthday. How old are you, 16?"

It's now an Islamic cultural centre.

Delicolor said...

Pubs are closing all over Yorkshire. Economic pressure, as well as Islamic.

Also, Bingo halls are closing as well, it started in Scotland with the smoking ban and they can see the writing on the wall.