Memorably grim nightspots #1: a double birthday celebration, maybe five years back, at the Troy Club in Hanway Street, and one of the birthdays – we didn’t know this till we got there – was the landlady’s. OK, you’ve read Gormenghast? So imagine a bar in Barquentine’s bedroom, peopled by ancient Soho soaks, actors you haven’t seen for years, pucely embalmed bar-phantoms that would spook Francis Bacon: this was the Troy Club. There weren’t enough chairs, though there were a few aluminium beer kegs- these have sharp rims and not much else. The landlady sang many many Irish ballads, accompanied by a man on electric piano. Even she thought he was rotten, complaining several times and asking him to be less florid. Then a man got up and began to declaim a poem on the terrors and splendors of cocaine addiction: this lasted about 25 minutes. When he finished, it was discovered that no one else in the room knew who he was – each party assumed he belonged with the others. Out of maybe 15 people in the group I was with, the evening produced two lasting relationship break-ups.