After attending Gay Pride in June 1994 I made a brave (or was it stupid) decision move to London from my home town Scunthorpe after finding work & accommodation down south.
I eventually got 3 replies from pubs in London, One of the replies was from The Father Redcap in Camberwell (SE5) saying they had accommodation.
Another pub The City of Quebec were polite enough to write back to say thanks for the letter but they didn’t have work available.
The last reply was from a pub called The Salmon & Compasses which was on the end of Chapel Street Market, Islington (N1) telling me there was a job going if I took the offer up before the start of August.
I rang The Salmon & Compasses and told them I’d be moving there the following Saturday. I also rang the Father Red Cap to secure my room.
Arrived safely in South London around mid afternoon & got settled in at the Father Red Cap and in the evening I went to see Taff the manager of the S&C,
I asked directions at Angel tube station & found the place easy enough & asked to speak to Taff.
I was greeted by a rather boisterous loud Welsh woman whom I later found out didn’t take any prisoners when It came to people slacking or taking the piss.
Taff then Interviewed me upstairs and I got the Job. Which was good considering I’d just moved away from home for the job in the first instance.
To say I was nervous about starting on the Sunday Night would be an understatement, I’d not worked in a Gay bar until that point.
Sunday night a was Bingo and Quiz night. David Pollard was a fair but strict quiz master.
The customers came from all walks of life. It was usually a friendly atmosphere, Unless Huey from the Duke of Wellington came in then the atmosphere could get a bit tense, especially when he started accusing Taff of filling up the Smirnoff with a cheaper vodka…
The S&C was the only pub I’ve ever seen with a ROUND pool table, There wasn’t room for a full sized one… Taff would spend most of night playing the regulars at pool. While we got on with serving customers till 2AM in the morning.
The people I worked with at the S&C were OK on the whole but could be lazy given a chance.
Taff assumed I’d gone out clubbing after work the night before, I hadn’t!
After I’d gotten over the flu a few days later I went up to Islington to get the wages I was owed, Taff still wasn’t interested in the real story and that was the last I ever saw of that place.
I took a part time bar job on at The Father Redcap to at least try and pay my rent on the room I had. But that turned out to be a nightmare too…
I lasted in London until 23rd April 1995 when I admitted defeat and moved back home I just couldn’t afford to live down there rents were expensive, even back then a flat could cost up to £150 per week to rent.
Last I heard of Taff she was running a pub in Brixton but that was a good 20 years ago now I doubt she’s even alive now.
The Salmonella and CowPat (My Nickname for the place) was an OK pub even if was rough and ready around the edges (Think Spit and sawdust) and its still the only pub I knew that had a pre-paid electricity key meter.
Someone hadn’t been paying the electric bills from what I understood.
Nowadays its changed its name and is by all accounts a Horrid Hipster Gastro Pub. That’s progress or so they say!