Wednesday, August 12, 2009


I supped a few ales with S last evening in the centre of the metropolis that gentlefolk and less-than-gentlefolk, in hushed and deferential tones, call ‘Gloucester’. Our first port of call was a new inn for this punter. Robert Raikes’s House has been done up rather tastefully and, I observe, at no little expense. The courtyard at the back is rather charming and I’m pleased that my city boasts such an elegant area in which to sit and imbibe. I salute this hostelry. In my youth, it was known as the Golden Cross, and one of the first places I drank in as an earnest and wry sixth form student. The Cross was connected to my favourite pub, the now defunct Malt ‘n’ Hops, via a miniature yard and the adolescent popinjays and dandies could spend Saturday night parading flamboyantly between both inns. The Golden Cross attracted a slightly rougher crowd; the Hops exuded cool. If I am correct, the Robert Raikes’s House courtyard is geographically where the Malt ‘n’ Hops used to stand. Memories.

Our second and final destination also has a place in my past. The CafĂ© Rene was, when I were a juvenile, the Inner Court Wine Bar, a vaguely underused venue for drinking but characterful and interesting nonetheless. I don’t dislike the Rene but I am not as fond as I used to be of this place. The beer was a touch below par last night and, as S and I agreed, this isn’t as remarkable a drinking den as it likes to think it is. I ended the evening pouring a Red Stripe or two down my ageing neck which my tender head regrets a day later. It had proved a pleasant session though.

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