Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Where Everybody Knows Your Name

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Where Everybody Knows Your Name

Article excerpt

A year before Katrina was Catarina--a tropical cyclone that tore across Brazil in late March 2004, demolishing 1,500 homes and damaging tens of thousands of others. A fortnight earlier, in the run-up to the Spanish elections, a series of improvised bombs was detonated on four commuter trains in Madrid. The ten explosions--which the Spanish judiciary blamed on al-Qaeda--killed 191 people and injured another 1,800.

In an underground bar in Soho, London, the talk touched on such horrors, brushed against them, but not for long enough to feel their heat. The poet Charles Bukowski once wrote: "When you drank, the world was still out there, but for the moment it didn't have you by the throat." And there was no better place to escape the world than the New Evaristo Club, known to its regulars as Trisha's, or the Hideout.

That month in 2004 comes back to me with a rare clarity because that was my first as a member of Trisha's. What's more, as the last night of March blurred woozily into April Fool's Day, I leaned against the wall opposite the bar--the Sinatra wall, covered with dusty pictures of the Chairman of the Board--and kissed Zoe, my partner now of over nine years, for the first time.

Sitting in the bar today, I notice how little has changed: the same old Sinatra wall, the same life-size Humphrey Bogart cut-out on the back door, the same green tablecloths (a vestige from the club's early days as a gambling den). Trisha Bergonzi, a registered nurse who has been the proprietor of the New Evaristo since 1999, tells me: "I don't think anything changes down here. …

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