It wasn’t everyone’s idea of a trendy ga...

Ben and Joe's

Man

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It wasn’t everyone’s idea of a trendy gay bar. I’m sure some people who drove up to the Art Deco front, with a tired flamingo on the door and peeling paint, did a quick u-turn, convinced that it held only a handful of solitary middle-aged men who no longer expected their prince to come.

They were wrong; most evenings the place was full. Twenty- to fifty-year-olds, half of whom had already found their prince and the other half too busy to look for him. Typical Valley men - supermarket managers and haulage contractors, IT technicians and flight attendants, and the inevitable studio wannabees, drinking, laughing, flirting and dancing till the early hours.

It wasn’t my scene. I was one of the afternoon shift. We were the older generation who strolled in an hour or so after the daily routine of lunch, shopping or the gym. We’d perch on stools around the crescent-shaped bar, watch old films on the tv and pass judgement on politicians, film stars and anyone else in the day’s news. Our favorite game was encouraging Richard, the impossibly handsome twenty-three year old barman, to invent outrageous cocktails. We would stay until the early evening, when we were surrounded by more strangers than acquaintances and the door swinging open showed that the last of the stores across the road had closed. Then by ones or by twos we drained our glasses and returned home to a lover, a pet or a memory.

Foreman, Martin. Ben and Joe’s, Arbery Publications, 2013, pp 21-22.

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