A long time ago we lived just off Cowley Road in Oxford about four minutes walk from a pub called The Bullingdon Arms.
The pub, or a version of it, is still there but it is no longer the place it used to be.
Twenty years ago it was run by Joe Ryan who made sure that each pint was served with a shamrock shaped into its creamy top, there were no cushions on the stools, fluid opening hours, a music system that only played old Irish Rebel songs and a Jack Russell called Misty. There was a yard at the back the roof of which was made out of pieces of corrugated plastic sheeting and a small back bar where I watched Germany beat England on penalties in Italy in 1990.
I was reminded of all this this evening listening to the first Dexys Midnight Runners album and the first song in which Kevin Rowland runs through a list of his favourite Irish writers; Oscar Wilde, Brendan Behan, Sean O’Casey, George Bernard Shaw, Samuel Beckett, Eugene O’Neill, Edna O’Brien andLawrence Stern. One of the walls in the back room of The Bullingdon had a black and white picture of them all.
Joe Ryan had to give up the pub when the brewery tried to tidy the place up and when they couldn’t do that just put the rent up so he couldn’t afford to keep it on. It was a good local.
I was listening to Dexys as I have been trying out some improvements I have been trying to make to the playing of records in the house.They seem to be working. I tried Galen out playing a record and then the same music on CD. He came out in favour of the record. It had a more natural sound. Good lad!
There were only two kids to feed this evening so I gave them chicken and chips. I fed myself a bulgar wheat salad and lamb meatballs made with dried barberries taking more or less based on a recipe from Sabrina Ghayour’s Persiana.
Still listening to Dexys now late in the evening. On vinyl. But feeling a bit of a fraud not having bought the records first time round. They still get me though.
The man is a fuckin’ genius. They should have nailed his picture to the wall in The Bullingdon.