With the weekend over and Friday a long way off Monday evenings can be tough. Especially tough if you’re currently subjecting yourself to a month of temperance. So, when a leaflet arrived through our letterbox announcing an evening of live jazz the first Monday of every month we were excited to say the least. Besides, we have promised ourselves that we must, must, must get out and about more in our (not so now new) home city.
The venue was the Albert Club, a private members’ sports (mainly tennis and bowling – green not ten pin) and social club, established in 1874, and just a few roads away from us. We are not members but it was only £3 on the door for non-initiates. We are also having our first tennis lesson later this week (at The Northern) but with the courts of the Albert Club on our doorstep, and with its membership fees a fraction of the price of those elsewhere, it was definitely worth investigating.
‘Quaint’ (in the sense of odd, peculiar and old-worldly, so quintessentially English) is probably the best word I can find to describe it all, from the raffle (prizes: a box of Roses and a bottle of wine) right through to the plate of sandwiches brought out in the interval. Walking into the clubhouse bar it reminded me a lot of a British Legion/Conservative Club only minus the picture of Maggie.* The audience was small (as in, you were most definitely noticed when you entered) and we were certainly the youngest people there, that is until another young couple walked in about half an hour later looking equally as bemused as we must have done. Drinks were cheap (helped by us remaining sober) and the people seemed friendly but it was just all so cringingly, well, quaint. As for the jazz, it was ok for only £3. The keyboard, sax player and guitarist were really quite good but I’d be surprised if the group ever rehearsed together. The set was made up as they went along. In one track the singer (rocking a great 40s hairdo) struggled to keep up with the band, or was it the other way around? And the bass player turned up late. We left in the interval, the sandwiches having pushed us over the edge. An odd evening. Perhaps, the Albert Club isn’t for us after all.
*Just for the record, and to the best of my ability, I can remember having only ever been in each of such venues once in my life, and both times as an invited guest at a party.