If I had been writing this Blog a year ago I would have written about the closure of the old 12 Bar Club in Denmark Street, in January 2015. I said my farewells the month before that in typical fashion: a drunken Saturday night watching punk-themed bands. The headliners were Banjoey Ramone, Ramones songs played on banjos and other acoustic instruments: right up my alley. I genuinely expected to get the last train home and get to bed at a reasonable hour, but when I heard that the place was closing a few weeks later we had to make a night of it: bands, pinball, I even won a few games of pool, chat with many familiar faces. And my gig-going companion was in no hurry to head back west. And like so many happy evenings over the years we spilled out onto the street with everyone else just before 3am. Then it was a trip to the McDonalds at the top end of Oxford Street, to buy one of their last meals before it too closed for the night, a stroll up past Oxford Circus, Ronald McDonald Meal in hand, and finally a night bus back to West London. And this was followed by not enough sleep and a brute of a hangover the next day.
We bade a more sedate farewell to the club just before Christmas 2014, my children wanting to go to “the pinball pub” one last time, on the way home from a matinee of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”. They had one last thrash on the drum-kit on that tiny stage (my son belting out “Hurry up Harry”, with its immortal chorus of “We’re going down the pub!”), a few games of pinball, the traditional juice and a packet of crisps. I had my final pint of Guinness there, got chatting to an old punk band who were performing on the final weekend of events, confirmed where the new 12 Bar would be located and said my goodbyes.
We made it to the new 12 Bar Club, on Holloway Road, in March 2015, after a football match at the Emirates Stadium nearby (a friendly between Brazil and Chile). The club was now in an Irish bar, so we had Tayto crisps along with the Guinness (for me and my wife) and fruit juice (for the children), and a few games of Spiderman pinball. The stage was bigger, the venue might even have been better laid out than our beloved Denmark Street haunt. The closest I came to going to a gig there was a Doctor and the Medics single launch last summer but I didn’t make it. Then, in the autumn, I found that the venue was no longer putting on punk-themed nights. The London Calling nights featuring acts like Viva Las Vegas (punk versions of Elvis songs, again right up my alley) were now happening at venues like the Hope & Anchor (a much-loved venue from my past) and the Pipeline (a much newer and also much-loved venue from my recent past), with its 7 (yes, SEVEN) pinball tables.
Last Saturday my wife and daughter met up with some friends at the new 12 Bar Club after the Arsenal v Burnley FA Cup match. And last night (2 February) I arranged to meet the good doctor there before heading to Arsenal’s League game against Southampton. But the bar is all locked up, with a legal notice on the door, about whom the leaseholders should contact if they want to gain entry to the premises. So now even the new 12 Bar Club is gone. Farewell 12 Bar, again.