Back to 1955, and there’s an element of schoolboy humour behind this post.
The fact that the word ‘gay’ has changed its meaning over the years is an endless source of amusement to anyone with a juvenile streak. And I sniggered at the headline to this feature before I could stop myself:
But what strikes me about the Bedford – and what makes this worth publishing here – is just how un-gay this newly refurbished pub looks in any sense of the word. Here are the six – count ’em – meanings of the word ‘gay’ according to Dictionary.com:
|having or showing a merry, lively mood: gay spirits; gay music.
|bright or showy: gay colors; gay ornaments.
|given to or abounding in social or other pleasures: a gay social season.
|licentious; dissipated; wanton: The baron is a gay old rogue
|of, indicating, or supporting homosexual interests or issues
The only recognised meaning of the word that applies to these two pictures is the highly contentious one that’s not covered by dictionary.com, but is mentioned at www.urbandictionary.com. It’s the one I hear mostly in London streets and on the bus in the morning, and while it may have developed as a separate strand, it does nevertheless have its roots in homophobia.
So if you exclude that one, and just go by any of the six definitions above – does this pub look gay to you?
Which ever way you look at it, our ideas about gayness have changed an awful lot over the last 54 years.
More from The Red Hand, this time from 1955. And this picture deserves a post all of its own.
Nowadays, especially in magazines, it’s de rigeur to make a potentially humdrum snap a little more exciting by giving it a cheeky caption that in some way takes the piss out of the photo’s subjects.
The Red Hand occasionally manages this – apparently without actually trying to be funny.
Take this one: the photo is worthy of any caption competition. But you’d be hard pressed to beat the one that accompanied the original snap.
Yep, what you’re looking at here ‘has been described’ as ‘Leicester’s most original cocktail bar’.
If there’s a higher accolade than that, I have no idea what it is.
Later in the same magazine from which I scanned yesterday’s pictures, there’s another side entirely to the Ind Coope & Allsopp estate.
Yesterday’s pics seemed to offer a window onto the golden age of the pub as a centre of the community. But this age was passing even as it was being recorded. A few pages on, we get a big feature on the new jewel in the company’s crown: the Hotel Leofric in Coventry.
The magazine uses the word ‘splendour’ to describe it. What word would you use?
While it was being prepared for opening, the manager slept on a mattress on the floor. 300 men were working on it, and their wives were bussed in from Burton to do the cleaning.
Pride and joy is the silver grill, where you can select your steak and watch it cooking:
If you don’t fancy that, there’s the snack bar, boasting a quick counter meal and “the longest bar in the Midlands”. This huge room is windowless, but “modern lighting and air-conditioning give it an all-the-year-round summer atmosphere”.
My favourite bit though is the cocktail bar, with its “unusual wall decoration”. Yes. Unusual. That’s a good word. This “intimate yet opulent” setting features a “cosy lounge atmosphere with a delightful Emmet-type mural.”
The thing is, last year I stayed in a hotel in Sheffield that looked pretty much identical to this one, clearly untouched for at least thirty years. It was so appalling, I went all the way through anger and disgust in a second, and came out the other side and actually enjoyed the tackiness, the sense of desolation, the broken dreams of mid-century modernism, the short-sighted folly of the architects who sought to build a brave new post-war world, futuristic and yet, at the same time, with no provision whatsoever for surviving in any decent shape beyond the present moment it was built.
Funny how the average boozers featured elsewhere in the magazine would still look appealing today, innit?
I got my scanner working again. This means I can scan in some pics from a couple of magazines I picked up from a tat stall (sorry – “breweriana” emporium) at the Great British Beer Festival in August.
Since doing Hops & Glory
I’ve been fascinated by Allsopps – the forgotten man of Burton. By the mid-fifties they were Ind Coope and Allsopp and their days as the brewer of the first Burton IPA were almost forgotten. The industry was undergoing massive change, and you get a snapshot of this change in the pages of The Red Hand, the staff magazine they published. Some of these are fascinating, others unintentionally funny more than half a century since they were published. I’m going to mix them up and post a few over the next few days.
Here’s the opener, from a magazine published in 1956:
There’s all sorts happening in Ind Coope & Allsopp’s pubs. The barmaid at the Fox and Hounds has been “televised as one of the prettiest girls in the Leeds area”. It would be beneath you to make a crack about what this says about the standard of prettiness in Leeds.
Next, Mr and Mrs Parker enjoyed their Golden Wedding Party down at the local:
But my favourite has to be the Admiralty Tavern’s Easter bonnet parade:
The serious point here is that this all challenges the idea that pubs were until recently the preserve of blokes. These pics show the pub as the obvious place to go for any event, the beating heart of the communities they inhabit. Landlords – come on, we talk about all these pub closures and declining attendance – you can’t get an Easter Bonnet Parade with your 24 pack of Carling from Tesco’s can you?