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Friday, 13 August 2010

Any Port... (Part 1)

Storm Queen, 243 Dumbarton Road, Partick, G11 6AB

Around a month ago the news was out that the Clyde Valley, one of Partick’s stalwarts had re-branded to become Storm Queen. A strange name for this bar and this part of town; a different style of moniker from neighbours such as The Smiddy, The Ettrick, and The Victoria Bar. I then learned this name had been used in a previous refurbishment by Scottish & Newcastle back in the 70s.Still it had to be checked out, to see if this really was a break from the past, and from the neighbourhood.

A Saturday evening on a busy weekend on Dumbarton Road, but that wasn’t immediately apparent walking down the amazingly steep Gardiner Street. Very few peeps about. And the same on the main road. Just a few stragglers returning from a day’s shopping.

The exterior of Storm Queen has been rendered black, the gold lettering standing out clearly. Inside, first impressions were that nothing much had changed. Tables and chairs and a couple of Chesterfields in the front part of the room, more tables and a stage further back. And the fake brick wall, an earlier and crude attempt at a design staple of today.

Getting the drinks in confirmed that things in that department hadn’t moved on from my last visit either. Careless service: two drinks, a lager and a G&T, and the barmaid still had to come back to me after pouring the beer to check my tiny order. And then once she had the drinks in her hands she forgot where I was standing. There are still very few professionals working in Scottish bars.

We took the recessed double seat, which faces the counter, and watched the evening progress. A group of around 8 people gathered, split, then reformed, and so on into the night. A cosmopolitan mixture of folk that we learned later were celebrating a reunion. More people joined the group as a wee band warmed-up beside us.

The feel of the place had seemed to go upmarket since my last visit when a guy was singing ‘My Way’ on karaoke. Not so unusual you may say, but it was the Sid Vicious version. I enjoyed that, I must say, though some people around were just glad he hadn’t attempted ‘Friggin’ in the Riggin’’.

Storm Queen –research has suggested the name is of a famous steamship, rather like the rough and ready Jeannie Deans on Argyle Street - is steaming on a course well away from neighbours like The Partick Tavern and the sadly diminished Ettrick.

As we left, another well-kempt couple arrived, and the band, including a rather incongruous saxophone, were on their opening bars. As good a time as any, I said…

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