A BBC Liverpool feature is questioning whether there are too many bars on Lark Lane – presumably a rhetorical question to anyone who has frequented South Liverpool busiest drinking zone.
The experience of South Road in Waterloo and Allerton Road in, er, Allerton should be a warning to powers-that-be of what happens when commercial activity is given free rein.
As someone who has lived on or around the Lane for nearly ten years, I feel qualified to suggest that a little delicate pruning of L’allouette’s boozy hang outs wouldn’t go amiss. The trouble is, although there are aspects of nearly every bar and pub down the road, famous for inspiring Pigeon Street (or something), that I like and admire – there isn’t one single bar that I actually really like.
Image by John Kennan
Marantos has the excellent music quiz, and others, but is a fairly sterile environment; Negresco is overpriced with a poor choice of beers and lagers; Keiths is too noisy; the Albert is too frightening; the Parkfield again lacks some choice ales; Akis doesn’t seem to know that it’s not actually on Slater Street; Vinyl is rather on the crowded side; Que Pasa served me the worst sausages I’d ever eaten this weekend; and new boy Pablos resembles an 80s hotel lobby.
Among all of these bars there isn’t one I’d really call a local. The Albert used to hold that honour, but a number of incidents – including one where I was accused in the toilets of being an undercover policeman – have rather tarnished the characterful place. I do mourn the Masonic too – a pub where an old friend once took me because she though it was sufficiently ‘working-class’ to meet with my approval.
Having said all of this I’ll readily frequent all of these places quite happily from week-to-week. It’s just that the explosion of drinking establishments has turned the Lane into something of a circus, especially of a weekend.
I’ve seen a one-man attack on the Parkfield by a virtually-naked man equipped with a garden chair; a full-on hair-extension-grabbing gang catfight; and a pint glass thrown straight through the Albert’s window while out on the Lane.
By contrast Lark Lane’s shops seem to be suffering, with a butcher’s and greengrocer’s among the places to close their doors since I moved in. There seems to be an endless array of clothes shops opening and closing too, though the Amorous Cat bookshop has made a welcome return.
Green Days and the Moon and Pea should both be investigated, though I have soft spots for the Red Fort, Romeos and Chilli Banana too. I haven’t been into Jamaican Me Hungry yet but the name itself means it deserves patronage.
Even better are the newsagents, especially my friends who feed me dates whenever I go into the delicatessen, oblivious to the fact that I hate dates. And let’s not forget Paul’s barber shop, the bits-and-bobs shop, that weird gift shop on the corner of Little Parkfield and the Place-That-Does-The-Cakes.
Anyway, is there a moral to all of this? Not really, except to suggest that the Lane would probably be a better place with a couple less bars, a ban on new blocks of flats and a few hundred less cars. There’s more to the Lane than bars and hippies.