It was the mid to late 1990s that my going-out days reached their peak. Every Friday and occasionally a Saturday night was spent in one drinking establishment or another, many of which do not exist today. For example, Oysters at Palmerston Road.
The Cambridge, later the Town House, was also very popular. If you were on the ground floor you had to be wary of those on the floor above spilling their drinks over the balcony. We would usually go upstairs as it was easier to make yourself heard and was good for people-watching.
From there we would go to the Osborne for a game of pool on its brightly-coloured tables and then down to the seafront to the Jubilee bar – or occasionally –Fanshawes.
In the summer, we always started off at Langtrys and sat outside on the picnic benches. The central pathway into the pub made a good catwalk. Sometimes we would pop next door and have a couple in the Wheelbarrow, or Tut’n’ Shive as it became known.
My friend enjoyed going to The Jailhouse near the old Registry office. I went a couple of times to listen to the bands but I was not particularly a fan. Nearby at Guildhall Walk we had many an entertaining night.
The Mucky Duck, Walkabout and Yates were all preceded by a trip to Wetherspoons where we would have a large glass of Oxford Shiraz purely because it stuck to the glass. This would be followed by the usual beers – John Smiths and Caffrey’s in my case. On some nights we would end up in Bar Me which was next to Martine’s. It was very cramped in there but it didn’t deter us singing away to the Pompey tune of Harry and Jim and the Yogi Bear song. I seem to recall an Irish bar on the corner opposite the Mucky Duck but its name escapes me, it may have been O’Neill’s.
It was quite rare that we ventured to any other places in Portsmouth. I can remember only twice going to a pub in North End, once was the Clarendon and the second time a group of us called in to the Magpie, in Fratton, for a quick drink before heading into town. We left almost immediately as the tumbleweed moment of our entrance was enough to unnerve us. Sometimes we would be radical and head to Albert Road, usually to the Wine Vaults and the Fuzz and Firkin, but invariably it was a temporary stop before heading off to our regular haunts in Guildhall Walk.
Considering I had spent the majority of my time in my late teens frequenting the hostelries of Old Portsmouth, I cannot really recall many times I went down there.
My friend worked behind the bar in the Dolphin for a time so I went down on a Sunday night for the obligatory roast potatoes but once he left the trips tended to die out.
For a short time we went to the Golden Hind in Copnor Road to play darts and pool.
It was handy for me living firstly in Gatcombe Park then Cosham.
We also ventured up to The Heroes in Waterlooville where on one occasion my friend and I ended up singing True by Spandau Ballet on one of the karaoke nights. The DJ said we were very brave. I’d probably had a few pints of Caffreys by that point.