G-Rothes Town Centre Pub Crawl Circa 1990

Written especially for the Boak & Bailey curated Longreads

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Like most folk of my generation, I started hitting the pubs somewhere between my 16th and 17th birthday. It was a lot easier to do so in those days. Nobody seemed to mind. The pubs all had bouncers on the doors but as long as you looked older than 14 and weren’t totally fucking trashed they let you stroll on by without a second glance.

We’d always pre-load before hitting the pub (although it wasn’t vilified as pre-loading back then, it was merely having a drink or six before you went out). Our pre-pub drink was usually three or four bottles of cheap and low ABV wine: Lambrussco Rosso or Rosato or Bianco or, if we were feeling especially suave, some Peach Concorde. If we weren’t in a continental mood we’d down a few cans of Kestrel Lager. Sometimes a crowd of us would go out but more often than not it would just be myself and my two best friends, the brothers Whitman, and it was in their bedroom that we got mildly intoxicated on crappy wine or lager. While we were scooping our quality beverages we’d waffle shit and listen to music – mostly Pink Floyd, Prince and the Pet Shop Boys. When all the booze was guzzled we’d set off on the trek down to the town centre.

The walk to town usually took about 20 mins. We’d cut across the fields of G-Rothes High School (in the days before ‘the bridge’ made that too much of a pain in the ass) and head down Napier Road. More often than not we’d have a joint or two to accompany us on our journey and there was always a battle to get in the final toke before reaching the end of Napier but not actually be the one left carrying the joint as we walked passed the police station.

Our first port of call was usually Morgans, which at the time was the newest edition to the town centre pubs. It was a bit of a style bar. Completely crap by today’s ostentatious standards. But a huge achievement for 1990s Fife. Morgans was were the town’s coolest people hung out. By cool people I mean the people that wore the most expensive clothes. Not the true heads who dropped acid on Thursdays and listened to the 13th Floor Elevators at 3am in the morning even though they had to be at work for 8. Strictly speaking the clientele of Morgans weren’t my kind of people but they were mostly a good looking crowd and less likely to hurt you if they smacked you in pus than those who frequented the town centre’s other boozers. The beer line up certainly wasn’t astounding… unless you liked pints of Tennent’s Lager or bottles of Sol. We’d usually start with a pint or two of lager then move onto Southern Comfort & Lemonade. If we felt mean and moody we would knock back some straight shots of Amaretto. Everybody knows that Amaretto is a real hard man’s drink. Admittedly, we didn’t realise it was a hard man’s drink until we read Accident Man and discovered that it was the tipple of choice of hit man extraordinaire Mike Fallon. I’ve still not worked out how when I stood at the bar downing shots of almond liqueur I never got mobbed by the beautiful woman that were always chasing after a comic book creation or why I never got asked to kill some odious multi-millionaire businessman. Life could be disappointing in the early 1990s. [Edit: I have been reliably informed that Mike Fallon did not drink Amaretto. He only drank Pimms. I knew he drank Pimms but I also thought he indulged in Amaretto but I guess I was wrong. So, fuck knows why we drank Amaretto!]  When we’d had our fill of Morgans we’d head to pub number two.

The G-Rothes Bowling Alley had a pub above it. I’m not sure if it actually had a name but I seem to remember it was called the Bowl-Inn but 20+ years have passed and my mind is a little fuzzy on some of the details of my former life. The décor and furniture were functional – very 1980s holiday camp. The bowling alley wasn’t great but it was another place to get a drink (and by drink I mean a pint of Tennent’s Lager) and downstairs, aside from having a game of bowls, you could play Ghost N Goblins or Street Fighter or various other arcade machines. And the toilets were a good place to score drugs. Oh, and it sold bottles of Carlsberg Elephant Beer. Onwards…

Flappers was my favourite G-Rothes town centre pub. It was the only one that sold McEwan’s. And not just McEwan’s Lager. It sold 250ml bottles of McEwan’s Export. Yum! And I mean that seriously. Seriously yum. The décor and upholstery seemed okay when you visited on weekend evenings but if you ventured in at a time when daylight shone through the windows you realised it was actually a bit of a grotty hole. But, hey, stylish soft furnishings don’t make a good pub. Good beer doesn’t make a good pub (although it’s a nice bonus). Good people make a good pub. And there was always a good crowd in there. For a few years I could go there at any time and usually I’d bump into someone I knew and liked. And the jukebox was great. Seven plays for a quid and it was home such notable worthies as The Damned and The Stranglers and other semi-punk luminaries. Unfortunately, the pub staff pretty quickly cottoned onto the fact that we were regularly selecting Curtain Call by The Damned (for those not in the know, it’s 17 minutes long) and the scumbags deleted it. But at least they left the rest of The Black Album for us to play with. On weekday evenings we’d sit near the jukebox and play ‘Doors or No Doors’. A simple game where all you had to do was guess whether the person sticking in money was going to choose anything by The Doors. Couples always did.

Attached to Flappers was an Old Man’s pub. There was an adjoining door but it was very rarely unlocked so if you wanted to go from one to the other you had to go outside then back inside. We very rarely went into the Old Man’s pub as it was home to various sinister characters who probably weren’t actually sinister but merely blokes in their fifties. One historic midweek afternoon session in the Old Man’s saw me and Jay Whitman get thrown out because we got into a very loud and swear laden argument over the rules of dominoes. I was claiming that I had to be right as I’d won a dominoes trophy when at primary school whereas he was claiming he had the correct knowledge as his grandfather was a former dominoes world champion. After being ejected we walked home separately. The next day we confessed that we were bawbag liars and knew next to nothing about the dark intricacies of dominoes.

The fourth of the main town centre pubs was Woodies (or Maxwells if you were really old). It was a non-residents pub attached the Golden Acorn Hotel, which sometime in the mid 2000s would get converted in a Wetherspoons. It was a small pub that was in a decent state of repair and one that for a year or so boasted a video jukebox. Wooooooo! Posho! Although pretty much all it would play was Pearl Fucking Jam. The booze was the standard booze you got in practically every pub in Scotland in the early 90s. Yup, Tennent’s Lager. As it was the closest town centre pub to the dodgy housing estate of Auchmuty it could occasionally be a bit of a tramps den but usually it was a decent place to pass the time and swallow some crappy lager. When me and Gregory Whitman began our serious acid experiments Woodies was the pub we’d head to. We’d stand outside for ages trying to pluck up the courage to go inside but once we got through the door and had that first beer in our hands all our fears would melt always and we’d lean, at an increasingly ridiculous angle, against the bar for hours laughing at everyone who came near us or if nobody came near us we’d happily laugh at ourselves. Many times we’d almost collapse to the floor in a laughing fit that would take several minutes to get under control. Fuck knows how we never got chucked out and banned. 1990 was a strange but ultimately very forgiving time.

There were a couple of other drinking establishments dotted around the town centre but I rarely went in one and never went in the other. The one I rarely went in was the CISWO Working Men’s Club. I think I never liked going in there because despite its name it felt like I was the only person in there who actually had a job. But it was the best place in town to watch Scotland v England football and rugby matches. Unless you were English. It probably wasn’t a good place to watch Scotland v England games if you were English. Actually, it probably wasn’t a very good place to go if you were English even if there wasn’t any sport on the telly. The pub that I never went in was the Duke of Fife. It was located just up the stairs from Ladbrokes and was a real hard man’s pub. The place to go if you wanted to offload some stolen goods or wanted to buy a large quantity of dangerous drugs or a shotgun or if you just fancied getting beaten up. And I’d guess it only sold Tennent’s.

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~ by landells on September 2, 2013.

One Response to “G-Rothes Town Centre Pub Crawl Circa 1990”

  1. I remember going into a pub in Kippen many years ago to watch an England V Scotland game. There were about eight of us, all English on a sponsored m/cycle ride, our hosts in the village had moved out, set us out a delicious meal and bought loads of beer so that we DIDN’T go to the pub, fearing trouble (for us). Of course we ignored that and went anyway.

    Once inside there was one lone supporter sitting in front of the tv on a chair in the middle of the room, wearing an England top!

    The complete opposite to when I spent a week working in a Glasgow call centre during the world cup. The whole place was green and gold with office parties and everything as was the city as we played and were beaten by Brazil. I was made to wear my England shirt before being paraded around the entire building… Which was fun…bastards

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