Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Student drinking holes of Leeds; taking pointless lists to brave new levels

So you went to university in Leeds at the same time as me? You want to know what's happened to your favourite boozing shacks in the five year interim?

No??? You simply have a burning desire to read my decontextualised thoughts on a bunch of shabby pubs you've never heard of in your whole life? Well that is just about the most flattering thing I've imagined all night. Thank you.

Anyway, I went back Leeds the other weekend so that me and my ex-housemates could slope back into our pasts and indulge in a sort of crude regression therapy. Only with beer. Here is a list of my findings.

The Royal Park: Deary me, it's shabby. Given I spend most of my final year of uni here, I don't really remember the seats all being riven by abyssal gashes every millimetre or so. The Roy Castle room has a slightly mausoleum-eque air to it, what with the smoking ban, though I suppose there's no point getting nostalgic about somewhere I don't think I ever had a pint. Basically it hasn't particularly changed apart from maybe to crumble a bit. I quite like it, though some of the charm has ebbed away now that - in the day's cold cold light - it's fairly apparent that the owners are skanky at best, kind of mid-level con artists at worst.

Jacksons: Not a pub, but I feel impelled to note that it's become a Sainsburys local. Very sad. The Jacksons FM airwaves are empty and a small part of me weeps for a younger generation that will never know the joys of suspiciously discounted Oranjeboom. Hell, they may never know the joys of Oranjeboom fullstop - I'm not entirely sure I've ever come across anywhere else selling it. Probably all good supermarkets, but it was just so delightfully obvious at Jacksons.

The Hyde Park Social: So imagine if you went back home and, I dunno, your mum got married to someone else and she didn't tell you, or your beloved family pet had been replaced with, like, a horse. Er. I'm gibbering here, but it's quite hard to adequately express in words what has happened to the place. Basically the staff, the prices and the membership thing are the same, and everything else is the exact opposite - it's turned into a swanky, expensively kitted-out sports bar full of rahs. It's a bit weird, because some of the more overtly hippy dippy things about it pissed me off (notably the belief it was reasonable to play jungle on a Sunday evening. Or ever), and the sofas probably were carrying quite a lot of diseases or whatever, but wowzers, it's like stepping into a parallel dimension. Somebody in charge must have been nurturing a powerful grudge against hippies. My gob is smacked.

The Old Bar: Somebody who may have been famous once probably said something along the lines of 'you can never go back home.' Not true. Or at least not when it comes to the only real constant in my lift throughout four years of Leeds. I'm nearly 27, I'm not a student, I've even lost my definitely not uncool liftime LUU membership card; frankly The Old Bar should be unrecognisable, and our wandering in there should have been treated with the same revulsion of, I dunno, a committee of paedophiles (it's the collective noun, or it should be) turning up and having a kickaround with Maddy McGann's severed bonce. Instead we sauntered in, stuff looked the same aside from an airhockey table, and there were even two of my old managers still working there. Weird.

The Dry Dock: This is more like it. After the Quids In night was deemed illegal by our out of control constabulary and the hugely impractical central bar was moved somewhere where it was less of a menace to staff and drinkers sometime in the bowels of 2000, I can't help but feel the Dry Dock lost some of its charm. Probably something to do with it being painted a lurid yellow and turned into a quasi-rock pub in order that it might better accommodate the clientele of Star, probably the most overrated 'we all know it's a bit shit, but really it's fun' night that ever there was. Now they've painted it turquoise-ish and there are maybe some fairylight on top. Poetry.

Fab Cafe: Didn't really seem to have changed to me, though it was always a fairly late addition to the Leeds drinking roster. It's a bit 'meh' really, not especially sure why we used to drink in here so much. Diabolical G&Ts, plus the giant Darth Maul was a faux pas in 2002; not it's positively hateful.

Carpe Diem: Completely forgotten this place existed, but doesn't seem to have changed a bit. Shall forever associate it with hanging out with a bunch of people who would go on to be minor indie icons that I should probably have sucked up to or something. I am, tragically, not referring to anybody from The Tennessee Traincrash when I say that...

The Faversham: I dunno, I was pissed, looked the bloody same to me.

And there we go. 90 per cent of those places I will almost certainly never visit again... farewell teenage years! farewell early 20s! I give you a 7.7.

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