Here’s my response to the Daily Prompt for 14th January 2017: Unseen
The Spires. The Inspiration. The Green Room. The Avenue. The Moulin Rouge. The Bradbury Cub. The Gardener’s Arms. Manhattan. Xanadu. Sapphires. Dropout. These are my unseen things.
Once upon a time, Chesterfield (where I live) had more pubs and breweries than almost anywhere else in the country. This was in the days before licensing. There was one such establishment for every 33 people in the town – man, woman and child, not just adults.
Back in the 80s the rite of passage for those leaving school (and who looked old enough (or who had a sufficiently believable false ID)) was the Brampton Mile. Starting (predictably) a mile out of Chesterfield town centre in a suburb called (almost unbelievably) Brampton, the Brampton Mile was a run of around 18 pubs ending at The Bradbury Club, one of Chesterfield’s biggest nightclubs. The idea was that you started the night at the far end, had a drink in every pub and then ended the night in the Brad. This was in the days when people started drinking at 8pm on a Saturday night, and ended at 2am when the nightclubs had to close.
The Spires was my first haunt once I become old enough to no longer need a convincing fake ID. It was the base of operations for Chesterfield’s small band of football hooligans, the CBS (or YBS if you wanted to be thought of as cool and anti-establishment but they wouldn’t actually have you in the CBS and you had a 10pm curfew). It was the first place I worked behind a bar, the first bar that I DJed in, and the first bar toilet that I got carried out of, too drunk to stand.
My first gig was in 1989. I had to ask for a Friday off work so that I could DJ at the ‘breaking up for Christmas’ party for Chesterfield College. We weren’t sure whether it would be successful, and that maybe I would play for a couple of hours starting at lunch. By 4pm we had to lock the doors because we couldn’t get any more people in and I’d played every record I’d brought twice. I don’t remember being especially nervous, but I do remember one unfortunate incident when I was starting to get a little cocky.
Concentrating on a particularly tricky mix, I leaned against the wall of the DJ box. My leg brushed against something and the pub went silent. The music had completely stopped and I was stood there with a pair of headphones as hundreds of people chanted “where’s the music gone”. In a masterpiece of design, someone had decided a) to install the fusebox right by the side of where the DJ stands and b) to not put a cover on the fusebox. I conspired to lean against the circuit breaker and killed all power to the DJ box.
Both the Brad and The Spires are gone. The Brad was flattened and now a small group of shops and restaurants sits there. The Spires is now a household goods shop. The Yellow Lion is now a piano and sheet music shop, The Gardener’s Arms a solicitor’s office. None of the pubs, bars and clubs listed at the top can be found now. They were the places that I spent my late teens and twenties in, that I grew up in. The physical representations of this time of my life are now completely invisible, unseen, hidden behind gaudy sale posters and offers to settle your compensation claims quickly, no win, no fee.