THE PUB OF MUSIC
(The Blue Posts, Kingly Street, Soho. One Round)
Kingly Street is busy – gradually Saturday afternoon has turned into Saturday evening and we are now hurtling headlong towards Saturday night, and we don’t even have a special Whigfield dance to protect us. The first discovery: this Blue Posts is the seediest yet, a strange halfway-house of a pub with typical London detritus and the odd tourist. We may not make any friends, but at this stage of the evening we feel right at home.
Second discovery: it has a jukebox. Pete and I sort out the money we won off the TOTP quizzer and invest a pound or two. Third discovery: this is a sequential jukebox, and we all marvel at the rarity of this (those of us sad enough to know what one is). Unfortunately this discovery is only made when “Jeremy” by Pearl Jam comes on. Yes, we have been silly boys: we have put a Pearl Jam song on the jukebox so we could find out if it had a tune or not. It didn’t three hours before: it does not now. This doesn’t stop Dave singing it.
The jukebox is a creaky old thing – “ALARMED BY MIDAS” it announces, and Pete and I simultaneously work out the really quite good for a third pub gag, “Everything you touch turns to ‘Gold’ by Spandau Ballet”. Little were we to know that the jukebox is indeed the charlatan kind, where the numbers on the CD cards bear no relationship to the songs that play. We put on “Let It Snow” by Dean Martin, perhaps among the very best Christmas songs in the world. We get “Wonderful Christmastime” by Wings, or as I scrawl in my notebook in a frenzy of jukebox rage, ‘WONDERFUL CUNTING CHRISTMASTIME”.
Meanwhile there is a pub to check out. The staff are two in number: a young lady who is helpful, and a buffed-up Eastern European guy who talks like the villain in Rocky IV and has not quite mastered the basic ‘lager’/’bitter’/’pint’/’half’ vocabulary that a bartender, let’s face it, needs. But he’s friendly. There is also another man who is standing in the classic ‘Extra Regular’ position. This is to say: he stands between the pub proper and the inner bar, leaning against the upturned bar gate. He is not staff, but he is far beyond your average punter. His position also gives him a view of assorted slap-and-tickle activities going on at the opposite end of the pub, which we presume he is interested in because of his slight resemblance to an emaciated Peter Stringfellow.
None of these people know why the pub is called the Blue Posts. Nobody anywhere knows why the pubs are called the Blue Posts. In our desperation we ask Rocky IV. “Why is your pub called the Blue Posts.” “Ah” he says. Can he be an idiot savant. “The way to get to Piccadilly Circus is….”
The jukebox rumbles on. It is the season to discuss Slade, and Tim recounts once again how Noddy Holder does the voice in the Walsall Art Gallery lifts. We decide, quite reasonably I think given the provocation, that all grunge is shit. We had of course decided this already, but really, it bears repeating, especially in comparison to Janet Kaye’s magnificent “Silly Games”, which it amazes Pete and Tim to learn that I do not know. It is, Pete tells me, the highest-voiced single ever to chart. I listen intently. A high bit comes on. “That’s not the high bit!”. Okay. A-ha, now surely this very high indeed bit is the high bit. “THAT’S NOT THE HIGH BIT!” they chorus. Ouch, my ears. Now that was high. Third time lucky?” “THAT’S NOT THE HIGH BIT!!”. Then, finally, it comes. The high bit. It is, let me tell you, fucking high.
Our pints are almost downed and Janet fades out, to be replaced with “Sensemilla” by Black Uhuru. This pub has surprising quantities of reggae, a surprising rarity in pubs. Surprising because as the rousing reaction to “Sensemilla” (the jukebox gets turned up) proves, it’s a winner. I remembered everybody singing along the next day. Then I realised what I remembered was us singing along. A premonition, of sorts….
(The astute reader will have noticed a dog that did not bark in this pub, i.e. very little action from Magnus. There is it turned out a reason for that. You will have to wait to find out exactly what, though…)