of the places we most enjoyed playing back in the early days of
the band was the Sunset Rendezvous club down in St Pauls. This
was an old-style dance-hall venue attached to the back of a pub .
. . I don't think they have many folk acts down there any more,
but we always used to go over gurt well,
and that's why we chose a Saturday night there to record our In
Concert album, 'Live From the Inkerman Clubroom'. Unfortunately
I suffered a recurrence of my spasm on the night and could
neither play nor sing, so Bronco had to take over a lot of the
lead parts, for which—him being a woolly monkey and
everything—he probably wasn't really suited. I think the record
did pretty well considering . .
Man About Town with Timothy Cocksfoot
(avonpacket Productions in association with Radio West, edition
broadcast 10 April 1987)
Lets kick things off with one of those Fortean weirdnesses avonpacket is
delighted to uncover every now and then: the Duke of Sussex. Not
what you were expecting now is it: Life on Mars, St Paul’s style.
is one of
the most peculiar boozers we’ve ever been in. Managed
apparently just for a hobby by the former landlord of Bemmy’s bracingly violent
Full Moon (who seems to
have to shuffle mysteriously into the cellar between every flippin’
round), as is clear from our picture not renovated since
1973, hardly ever open and rarely populated by more than the
pair of wraiths you can see sitting up at the bar (on office
furniture you’ll notice: no we have no idea why either) . .
. we simply cannot compute the continuing existence of this
place at all, particularly in modern, edgy old St Pauls. And
the way they looked at us when we walked in, apparently a
pair of visitors from the far-future (though actually
celebrating finally getting a beer in the
Star & Garter)
. . .
well, lets just say we recommend a quick one here
unreservedly, for we truly will never see its like again.
few of the Duke’s
best bits. Enjoy!
Oldest cig machine in Brizzle
Star Wars! On VHS! Illegally!
Bristol Cider House – Cosies Wine Bar – Criterion – Duke of Sussex
– Prince of Wales – St Nicholas House
Anyway, back to business. Edgy it might be, but everybody knows St Pauls isn’t what it used to be don’t they? And while it could
hardly be described as gentrified (see above for one of many examples), it does
sometimes feel a little bit flat for tastes piqued by
swashbuckling tales of Uzi-toting Yardies and midnight drugs-busts.
Black & White Cafe, for example. Well, they did, didn’t
they, and now it’s gone don’t
you just miss the old place? Feuding Chechen drug lords
and all? Anybody ever try the food?
Or how about the
the Black & White’s
buddy over the road. Does Bristol have a more notorious boozer? Or one which
has shown more tenacity, clinging on and on by its grubby
in defiance of almost weekly arson attacks and the
unwavering attentions of the local constabulary?
Rendezvous still going?
Well, if we may briefly
break through our fourth wall of cynicism and adolescent wit, probably
no and no, but it does seem as though tenacity might just be winning
the day here.
It remains a
rough and ready old place, but you don’t have to be buzzed into
the toilets any more, and once they get those beer pumps working
and the landlady overcomes her fear of vegetarians . . . well,
all we can say is that there is absolutely nothing that would
please avonpacket more than for
this place to succeed and for everybody to be able to
enjoy this legendary Brizzle venue, as well as those painfully
engorging Wray & Nephew rum ads so beloved of West Indian
There is a delicious symmetry in the
resurrection of a name that celebrated the exploitation of
Jamaicans to announce to the world that the business in question
is now being run by them. Meanwhile, only Clifton’s
Alma Tavern and the
Lord Raglan continue to
wave the Crimean flag for Brizzle. But then who gives a fuck
about the Great Game now eh?
a sour note to this inspiring tale its that we can’t
help regretting the change of name: the Inkerman’s
totemic status was to us as much to do with its glorious name as
with its somewhat inglorious recent past. However, we also recognise that that the new name
is doubly appropriate: first, because as even a cursory visit
will confirm this is, and has been for years, indeed a Jamaican
inn; and second, because this is in fact a return to the
Elsewhere, a visit to
St Nicholas House was always a bracing experience too,
until it was boarded up early in 2006 after the wallopers turned up a stash of Class As that would have
had Pete Doherty clutching the table for support. We were just
surprised that they actually managed
to find anything amongst the mountains of clutter that used to
distinguish Bristol’s Untidiest Pub.
Given the council’s usual attitude in these matters, we don’t expect to
be hearing from the St Nics again (see
Sugas Bar for startling evidence
of a firm line firmly taken) which is a shame, and we do wonder
who might be next to fall in the name of zero tolerance . . .
be one of these two though will it?
One of the striking things about St Pauls, I think we can
all agree, is that it is a land of contrasts . . .
Harmless body shops stand cheek-by-buttock with burnt-out crack-dens, trim little maisonettes stand
shyly opposite the tented madness of some long-forgotten
protest, and the tottering prostitutes of Portland Square lurch
past the almost Cliftonesque Bristol Cider House (the
former Surrey Wine Vaults reopened and renamed for the
avoidance of confusion with Cosies Wine Bar) as if there were no more natural
an apéritif to a lunchtime half and a restorative ploughmans
than a bargain-bucket gob-job behind the York Street
Its a bit like Clifton innit?
Cosies, incidentally, we find a particular pleasure, not only
finest smoking shelters, but also every time we visit smelling
thrillingly of chip fat. They certainly know how to make friends of avonpacket . . .
on Ashley Road,
Criterion is an odd one.
by night, where on our last visit a pleasingly multi-racial
crowd got down (please excuse our hopeless patois here) to
some seriously hot decks action from a bloke in an electric-blue
trilby, it transforms itself by day into a gloomy, and
less-than-completely welcoming, old mausoleum where a bunch of
sullen old gits stare at horse racing on the big screen and
murmer hostile imprecations whenever anybody they haven’t
seen before walks in. No such problems over the road in the Prince of Wales,
another of St Pauls’ terrifically friendly landlords
stewards hardcore sessions of dominoes and Red Stripe with
often quite incomprehensible, serenity.
Further off the beaten track meanwhile (and actually in Montpelier if we’re honest) the
is . . . well, as we said, it’s in Montpelier, so
check it out on