Darryl W. Bullock is the author behind books such as ‘David Bowie Made Me Gay: 100 Years of LGBT Music’ and ‘Florence Foster Jenkins:The Life of the World’s Worst Opera Singer’.
We met up in a previous episode to discuss Crackers in Gloucester, and throughout the interview Darryl kept bringing up Bath Tap, a bar that he would go on to frequent when he became a mature age student and moved to Bath in the mid-90s.
So… I invited him back to reminisce about life in his grotty, miserable bedsit, freaky sex with a fantasist, and enormous bags of free bacon….
Follow Darryl on Twitter.Transcript
Darryl Bullock 00:00
I went from feeling like I was ugly and an interesting and I’ve been lucky to have a few friends to suddenly having people asking me out, and people not only asking me April asked me to do other things with them.
K Anderson 00:19
I am K Anderson and you are listening to lost spaces, a podcast that mourns the death of queer nightlife. Every episode I talk to a different person about a venue from their past, their memories they’re created there and the people that they used to know. Darrell Bullock is the author behind books such as David Bowie made me gay, and Florence Foster Jenkins, the life of the world’s worst opera singer. We met up in a previous episode to discuss crackers in Gloucester. And throughout the interview, Darryl kept bringing up bath tap a bar in Bath England that he would go on to frequently when he became a mature age student and moved to the city. So I invited him back to reminisce about life in his grotty miserable bed set, freaky sex with a fantasy list, and enormous bags of baking.
Darryl Bullock 01:41
It was just after my 30th birthday. I had been trying to enrol in a journalism course, at safe Bristol college. And I’d missed the deadline for for enrolment the previous year. So I tried again, in 1994. This was an August 94, I was 30 years old. So just before my 30th birthday, I moved from Gloucester where I was living in the time where I was back living with my mother, after having had this is a long story, I’m going to try and price it. I’ve moved to Atlanta for a short while to run a record shop. The guy that ran the record shops and absolute crook and left me right in, in in the middle of it just left me high and dry. And I had all sorts of problems with staff who was stealing from me. one staff member whose brother tried to kill me by running me off the road. And I was getting all sorts of Yeah, I was getting all sorts of hassle had people come around to my flat banging on the doors or nights, threatening to beat me up just because I was trying to run this business and trying to deal with some very, very dodgy stuff he had. And after about some three, four months, it’s all fell apart. So I got myself back out of there. Went back to Gloucester for a year. During that time, I applied to go to college. So I decided I had enough working in shops and pubs and stuff after what would have been then best part of 14 years, I guess, from leaving school, decided I need to do something different. The only thing I knew how to do apart from sell records or serve beer was to write because I’d always written even as a kid, I wrote lyrics and poems that were dreadful, but I wrote them anyway, a little bits of short stories and filled copious notebooks with ideas for for novels, and I wrote on all sorts of wrote a novel, pretentious this. I still have it. just awful. But I always wrote I was always scribbling on backs of packets. And, you know, when I used to play in a band, I was designing LP sleeves and writing the spiel on the back and all this kind of stuff. And always, always have this thing about writing in my head. Although I was dreadful at English at school, I barely scraped to no level. But I decided I didn’t want to work in shops anymore. I’d done a few years working in pubs and hotels, didn’t want to do that anymore. I wanted to do something with my life. And I decided at that point, I want to go to college. I want to learn journalism, I want to learn the rules of journalism, not because I wanted to be a journalist. But I wanted to be a writer and I wanted to know how to write correctly. I want to know how you wrote for magazines and how you wrote for newspapers. Now you wrote books, because they’re all very different disciplines. I didn’t know any of this. So I thought, I’m gonna go into this journalism course, I’m going to learn how to be a writer, and then give that my plan was to give this a couple of years to see if I can make a living make a goal out of it. And if not, I’d only be what 3233 at that point, I could still go and do something else. So that That kind of plan in my head. So I applied to college, I got into college eventually on the second, second application. other colleges in Bristol. I didn’t want to live in Bristol, because I’d had a really bad experience here. years beforehand. I got mugged in Bristol, when I was maybe, I don’t know, eight years before, something like that. And it kind of put me off the place. It wasn’t a major violent mugging. But I was mugged and I and it did kind of put me off living here. But I had a friend that lived in Bath, which is only you know, said 12 miles away from Bristol. And I’ve been to visit him several times and bus beautiful. It’s a beautiful little chocolate box city. And I thought I could live there happily. And barf, as I said, is only kind of 12 miles from Bristol. fairly easy to commute to go to college, you can actually get the train a walk from the train station eights to where the college was in Bedminster, which I did for that for that first year. And it was great. I saw I was doing the course I was loving the course within five months of starting this journalism course, not wanting to be a journalist. I had my first article published in a local newspaper. And it was kind of I was getting great reaction from what I was writing about my tutors Love, love what I was doing. I was really drunk. Well, I did what I was doing rather and so I decided this is definitely what I want to do with with the rest of my life and it’s what I’ve done ever since. Courses going great, but I was living in this absolute hovel in Perth. I mean, it genuinely was a hovel, I had no money. I the course wasn’t expensive because I was a mature student, so I wasn’t paying a lot for that. But I had no money. So I was I was claiming housing benefit. And I was earning a bit of underhand money by cleaning people’s houses. I was living in this absolute Grotto, awful grotty bed sit in a basement of a house. It was it was mouldy, it was damp. It was it was just awful. And I had this insane landlady who lived above me, who would just scream out of the windows when she saw me, you know, just just gave me all sorts of abuse. Yeah, she shouted at one time that she couldn’t understand why all these men were coming to my house. Even though they will tell you that and where there was the friend lived up the road kind of thing. You know,
K Anderson 07:29
I was I was hopeful that would go in a different direction and I’d get some salacious stories. We kind
Darryl Bullock 07:36
of made peace when she became ill and I started doing her shopping and suddenly everything was lovely. That was fine.
K Anderson 07:42
Suddenly, she needed you.
Darryl Bullock 07:44
Yeah, exactly that she needed me. I helped her arrive. And then for the rest of time, she was great to me and she was absolutely evil. So all of her friends she was bitch but never mind. And then a roundabout. It must have been the late spring, early summer of next of the following year. So in 1995 there was a pub in town called the rugby arms called the rugby arms because bath is a big big big rugby team rugby following massive and it was a rugby players pub. It had been closed for a while. And suddenly it reopened as the bath tap replete with rainbow flags outside
K Anderson 08:23
which can only mean one thing.
Darryl Bullock 08:25
The I mean, the only gay bar in Britain bath at the time was the green room. The Garrick said the Garrix was the theatre bar. So behind the theatre rolling buff Garrix had named after the actor David Garrick, obviously. And it was the bar in there was known as the green room because you know, green rooms and actors waiting to go on and off, you know, you have like a social area called the green room you have in TV. You know, if you get a watch, I don’t know Graham Norton, somebody was talking about being backstage in the green room. The Green Room is where everybody chills out before going onstage or going on to you know, to film. So that was the nickname of the bar. And that was kind of it was very theatrical, very old world very CD. It was full of it was full of old men which kind of alive, but it was full of old men sit at the end of the bar, watching all the chicken, you know, and and salivating and falling them into the toilet. It was really rank. But kind of, you know, a typical theatre gay bar. Early 90s, I guess. And then the bathtub opened this lovely little pub with rainbow flags outside, you know, in your face rainbow flags for God’s sake in Bath. And it was like, it was like it genuinely was. I mean, it’s just such a cliche thing. To say, but it’s Dorothy is opening the door and CPM walking into walking into a technicolour world. I mean, it seems so ridiculous.
K Anderson 10:11
Okay. Okay, so before before we elaborate on that, let’s set the scene a bit more and talk about the bath scene. So with that it basically I mean, it is a small city, right? Maybe 100,000 people. Yeah. so tiny, tiny. So even having a, like even having a gay bar is quite a big deal. But but that was essentially the same that was all kind of around Derek’s head.
Darryl Bullock 10:34
I mean, really. There was there were no other gay venues in Bath at that point. There were one or two bars that were accommodating, shall we say there was there was a punk with a dark horse. On the other side of town up in the Oh, I can’t remember the name of the area gnash knots. It’s off snow kind of snow Hill way. Up the Dark Horse, it’s gone. It’s been pulled down alternative flats, sadly, that was run by a lesbian couple. And although they didn’t they wasn’t run as a lesbian by was very gay friendly, very artsy crowd. Lots of artists, lots of musicians, lots of writers in bars, lots of middle class people with pretensions, lots of gaming, doing dinner parties. But if you are going to go out, you’d go to the dark horse or to the Garrix head kind of thing. There was nothing else. There really wasn’t and that’s not that’s not to say that bath was a massively homophobic city. It is a city of No, it’s a small city. Because I genuinely never had any issue there with anybody. About apart from this guy that this guy that was my best friend that I moved out with. He turned on me once. And we never spoke again. But yeah, yeah.
K Anderson 11:59
Like, he didn’t know you
Darryl Bullock 12:02
know, he knew he knew. But he was just one of those people that Oh, yeah, well, I hate the gays but you’re right because you’re Darrell kind of thing. You know, I don’t like gays, but I like you.
K Anderson 12:11
And then and then suddenly it wasn’t Alright.
Darryl Bullock 12:14
Well, no, that he used that phrase to me and I took the fuck off out of my house and never spoke to me.
K Anderson 12:19
I always say okay,
Darryl Bullock 12:21
we got we got a bit drunk one night and and he said he said something along the lines of I hate I hate the queers, right gays, whatever it is, but I don’t mind you because you’re Darrell I’ve known you for ages. And I was like, if you don’t fuck it understand what makes me who are you know? That’s part of me. That’s an intrinsic part of me is my is my, my, my sexuality and my my, my my sense of who I am. Basically Get the fuck out of my house. I did want to see we get online and spoke chipsets. But that was
K Anderson 12:50
like, What a strange example of like privilege and thinking like, Oh, yeah, it’s fine for me to say this to someone, and there’s gonna be repercussions. Yeah, well, you know, in vino Veritas, as they say, Wait, Who says that?
Darryl Bullock 13:06
It’s the robot. The guy that had it that first run, the place is called Alan I, I’m trying to think of his partner’s name, and it completely escapes me. I’ve got a feeling. It’s something like Patrick, I can’t remember. Alan was probably around about my age. So you know, 3031 of that time. He’d been married, straight married. And then had left his wife taken up with this guy. This was their first pub. And shortly after they moved to the pub, they were outed by the sun. The sun did a big piece on how he how he walked out on his wife to shack up with this with this young gay guy and and open but gay pub. But why? Wait, what? Because that’s what people did in the 1990s. Especially if you were the son, because people shits. But was he? Was he?
K Anderson 14:02
Darryl Bullock 14:03
No. Well, no, no, he wasn’t. But he was, you know, he had a wife and he walked out on his wife and with a bloke or had met a bloke who left his wife. And that was enough reason for them to splash a page and a half on him and ruin his life
K Anderson 14:21
Darryl Bullock 14:22
Actually didn’t do really good publicity for the pub. But that’s what they wanted to do. Yeah, sure. I don’t know if it was, you know, sour grapes on her part. She went to them with a story. I’ve got no idea. But they did this big piece on him. How does that? Yeah, yeah. Well, that’s what people did then, you know, and that’s somebody 25 you know, 2526 years ago. Yeah. Shared. That’s what people that’s what papers like the sun did. You know, the news of the world was around and that’s what they did. They they they ruined the lives. They named they shamed. They tell people where these people worked, where they lived, you know, the whole The whole shebang. It was just a renders even, even in the mid 90s, even after going through aids and did with section 28, and all those kinds of things. That’s what those kind of papers did to people. Just evil,
K Anderson 15:13
just horrible. But so, so he ended up getting lots and lots of press out of it. So the bar was heaving.
Darryl Bullock 15:20
Yeah, but the other tap had opened 90 511 room bar, wooden floor, nice, nice bar. very much a kind of locals pub. So most of the people you’d see in there of a day would be the same people you’d see every day. But it was a really interesting cry, because I’ve never seen any of these people before. And suddenly, there was, you know, a dozen or more regular gay men. And a couple of you know, lesbians who were who had crawled out of the one where can we use in this place? And it was it was always busy. It was all every single night. It was busy. cutter nights, the week they’d have, they’d have maybe a drag act or karaoke the typical kind of things you did then. But it dragged me to karaoke. I think one night a week. That’s probably Bingo. Eventually, as I said, they opened up the sellers in polite little dance floor in down there, they’d have a DJ. It was always busy, always busy. And
K Anderson 16:23
so what did it What did it offer the scene that the guards had done?
Darryl Bullock 16:29
Was the Garrick said was really CD? Garrick said was CD. It was old fashioned. It was, you know it was patterned carpet floor wallpaper. Pictures of Derek Nimmo on the wall kind of thing you know.
K Anderson 16:44
Who’s Derek Nimmo? He’s an actor. I was just trying to think of a name of an actor. Okay. So he’s, like, some kind of queer icon or anything that I just don’t know. Okay, now
Darryl Bullock 16:54
it was all it was all they were all female. It was it was eight by 10s of, I don’t know, Lionel Blair and people
K Anderson 17:01
who stayed over there. So you don’t know. Are you joking? No, I’m not. No, I forgot. Your foreign. I quite enjoy just winding you up there, sir. Yeah, there’s that.
Darryl Bullock 17:19
So the Garrix or the greenroom always had a very
Darryl Bullock 17:25
seat CD. Not it wasn’t a place where young hippie ish, hippie ish, not hippie ish, people would go, yeah, you wouldn’t if you lived in Bath, and you wanted to go to a pub, you go to Bristol, or you’re going to Cardiff or you go somewhere like that, because there was nothing locally where you could sit and wear what you know, I don’t know what the fashion would have been that time. So I was never I was never into that kind of fashion. But let’s say I don’t know, let’s say a crop top or something. You couldn’t possibly do that in the Garrix you’d begin you’d be in a sweater and and you know, and chinos and the guys were being raincoats. Genuinely was that CD, it really was the place where you went to pick up old Thespians. So we’re in a bit of rent money. It the the bathtub was completely different. It was suddenly full of people in their 20s 30s few older but mostly 20s and 30s. who like to pop music, and listen and would talk about, you know, going out clubbing and these kind of things which the Garrix head crowd never ever did. And so do you remember your first time there? They will kind of blur into one but I can’t I can’t remember very much remember my first reaction? Yeah. I think I sent remember being slightly nervous about going in because you were going in on a street front, you know, you were going in on the on the main street and walking straight in through the door into a pub. That was that had never and it’s close to its mast with some of like the greenroom. It was kind of round the corner and the side entrance to the theatre. So you could literally just be walking past it and it just nipped in nobody wouldn’t seeing you. You were you were this was quite. It was quite brave to step over that threshold because you were telling every single person you were going into a gay pub, you know, I’m 3031 points and I’ve been out for a while. But I’m fairly new to time. So I don’t know many people there at the moments. So I do remember feeling slightly as a slight feeling of trepidation about going over the threshold the first time. I remember really clearly there was a butcher daikon door. She was absolutely lovely It was so kinda like, you know, opens the door Come on in love kind of thing and, and he walks into the door and it was a bunch of people in there walked up to the bar and Alan who was the lender was the first person to serve me there and he was just beaming like a like a mad thing and smiling from ear to ear. And it was so Hi, how are you? lovely to see you. What can I get you? It was just so unbelievably friendly. As a single gay man. Up to that point, most of my experiences in gay pubs had not been massively friendly. A lot of them you go into or went into were very very cliquey you know, they had their own they had lots of people sitting in corners, bitching about other people sitting in other corners and if you went to somewhere like London or to Cardiff or something like that you could you could go let’s let’s say card, if you go to the golden cross, or the Kings Cross, I think it was the other one. If you went to London, I would probably end up in somewhere like Bolton’s or, or if the bolts are slow then but the cole Hearn but provincial gay pubs very, very very cliquey. Everyone knows everyone, everyone turns a nose up, everybody, everyone stares at everybody has to come through the door, because they’re either new meats, you know, and available to anybody or it’s somebody that everyone’s shanked already in this fall and with. This wasn’t like that this route genuinely wasn’t this was really, really friendly. And the second you walked into that place, Alan, and I wish I could remember his name. I’m sure it’s Patrick.
K Anderson 21:40
Let’s just go with Patrick. Patrick, it
Darryl Bullock 21:42
probably ended up being Peter, Peter. It was Peter. It was Peter, I knew it was a P. Allen and Peter Peter, Peter Allen and Peter Of course, it was Alan Pete with their absolute best to make you feel that you had a home there. And it was, it was devastating, genuinely devastating, to walk into a pub as a single person as a single gay person, and not feel that everyone who’s I knew up not feel that everybody was thinking you about a mud and to feel comfortable.
K Anderson 22:22
And so this is something that I’ve discussed a few times with a number of people that really interesting thing about the atmosphere being set by the people that own the place, which I know, like is, I know, is obvious, because like, it’s their, it’s their baby, it’s their thing. It’s there. They’re kind of creating that environment, and they’re creating that vibe, but just how important that is. Absolutely. And it’s the same in straight pubs as well. You know, I’ve
Darryl Bullock 22:51
worked in many, many straight pubs over the years and and if the staff aren’t on the ball, if the landlord landlady aren’t friendly or welcoming, you got a shitty pub. Yeah. How could you beer is how good your view is. Yeah, if the, if the staff aren’t on the on it, if they are not looking after that place, pubs a hole, and it always will be a hole. And I’ve been lucky to work with some lovely lovely people in pubs who really understand that and they know and look up to customers and then feel welcome. They know how to bring them in, when now are clearly on their own and looking to to make new friends. You know.
K Anderson 23:29
So let’s talk about that. Because so you are new. You are new to bath. Yeah. So then going to the bath tap, is that something that you would do on your own?
Darryl Bullock 23:37
Yeah, totally that and that’s the lovely thing about it. I had never again I’ve you know, I’m Don’t forget I was 3031. At this point. I’ve been going to pubs since I was 1516. I like never enjoyed going into pub on my own. Even before I came out to go any straight pubs and I didn’t enjoy I hated going into pubs on my own. I take a nice pair of sits in the corner, I’d nurse a beer and I get out there really quickly. I didn’t like being in pubs on my own. And the bathtub was the first pub I’d ever been in what I felt really comfortable, comfortable enough to go and get a drink and sit in the bar, sit at the bar. And and just chat to whoever was behind the bar or whoever came in if they wanted to talk. And the bathtub was open all day. I think if I remember correctly, we were we were just about in a period where were opening hours a change. You could you could have you used to have a situation where a pub could open lunchtime we would have to close in the afternoon it would open again in the evening. I think if I recall correctly, around about now pubs could open it, let’s say 10 1111 o’clock, I think it would have been lunchtime. I could stay on till 11 at night and as before 24 hour drinking all that kind of thing came in. But so the bathtub was open all day and I would happily go in there at Three o’clock in the afternoon, for example, and I did on many, many occasions and sit in the corner with a cup of coffee or maybe have a drink or maybe just hang around for Calaveras chatty, whoever was behind the bar, whoever came in until a few people came in that I’d got to know, you know, through drinking there, and then maybe stay all night. Um, but it was one of those, it was one of those places where I could, I felt really, really comfortable. And it was fabulous. It was famous, I take straight friends there are take queer friends there. Anybody that came to visit, the first place we go to was about it was just so welcoming.
K Anderson 25:44
And so let’s talk about talking to strangers. Are you more the type? I mean? I think I know the answer to this question already. But are you more the type to strike up a conversation? Or do you kind of wait patiently for people to talk to you?
Darryl Bullock 25:58
I am now I never used to be. I was definitely the sort of person that would sit in a corner and and hope people hadn’t seen me.
K Anderson 26:05
Oh, really? Yeah, so not so not kind of like, because I remember lots of times when I would go places and be like, and the thing that you think about me is I have resting bitchface. So I just come across really like cold and aloof. And so I would just be sitting in the corner too afraid to say hello to anyone and hoping that someone would start a conversation with me, which inevitably didn’t happen.
Darryl Bullock 26:26
I couldn’t, I wouldn’t talk to people unless I would, I’d had a few drinks inside me. And I took a while and the tat was one of the places where I actually, I started to really come out of my shell in that respect. And, and because I think, because I’d been so welcomed and so made to feel so welcome. If I saw people, if I was sat sitting at the bar, and they’re just having a coffee, or a beer or whatever, and somebody somebody walked in, who was clearly nervous or didn’t know, the place, I ignored and say, Hi, how you doing? Okay, you know, and I would start to make conversation with people. And I never used to do that. And that and that was I think that was probably the first place where I felt comfortable enough to do that, as a customer. Before that, when I’ve worked behind the bar, you have to do it.
K Anderson 27:15
Darryl Bullock 27:17
So you do learn those skills Anyway, you have those skills with you. But still, I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t necessarily use them. I really was a place like that, that made me feel, you know, these people coming in here are just as nervous as I was first time around, just as worried about what people might think about them, just go and say hi. And it was and it was, it really was that kind of place for a little while. And very quickly. It became a second home, I wouldn’t be in there every night, I’d be in there maybe twice, three times a week. Always a weekend, always on the weekend, and usually once or so during the week. And it just became a place where I wanted to be where I knew a whole bunch of people. Ron knew I’d have fun. And I felt comfortable and safe.
K Anderson 28:09
Huh. That’s good to hear. But so so let’s let’s talk more about talking to strangers. Did you ever have the experience? Because this is this is one of the problems with with queer spaces. Is that because the thing that you have in common is your sexuality. When you talk to strangers, they often make the assumption that you’re hitting on them. Yeah. I can’t think of an instance where that’s been a problem. So it’s just me then everyone? No, no, no,
Darryl Bullock 28:47
I’m trying to. I don’t know. Yeah, I think one of the things I’ve always found Well, certainly for as long as I can remember, is because I’m quite a big guy. And because I’m kind of, I’m big, and I’m kind of loud, and I’m kind of hairy and stuff. I either frightened people because they’re scared I’m gonna hit them. Or people just assume I’m a great big teddy bear, which is, you know, which is the truth. People don’t tend to think anything else outside of it. And you know, the other thing about a bank that having said, you know, big and hairy and loud and stuff is around about this time I was suddenly I was discovering this thing called, you know, bear culture at the same time as the tap was happening. So it was kind of opening up all sorts of avenues to me that I’d never thought of it before. And one of the things about the bear scene at that point in the mid 90s, because again, it was a very, very new thing is suddenly fat, bald, airy blokes fit. They fit in, or they fitted in, and suddenly people were fine. Seeing them attractive. So it was kind of weird to go from feeling very unattractive feeling very nervous feeling very unwanted in spaces to be in a space where I’m not hitting on other people people hitting on me. Bizarre, absolutely bizarre because that really hadn’t happened to me before. And so,
K Anderson 30:22
so the bear let’s talk about bears as a as a phenomenon, kind of where it starts and
Darryl Bullock 30:30
it starts in the states to start in San Francisco and it’s a it’s a reaction to the AIDS and HIV crisis. So during the mid to late 80s people dying left right and centre looking incredibly emaciated. If you walked into a gay pub and you look thin, there was an assumption you rail. So there was a backlash against that. Suddenly chubbier, chubbier, hairier you know, not muscular, necessarily, but kind of avuncular guys, you the assumption was that these people weren’t did he is carrying. Wow, that’s exact, that’s where it starts. I know that sounds terrific. Putting it like that. But that’s that’s the crux of it. That’s how it starts. That’s how, that’s how the bear scene started. It’s it’s, I don’t think it was a conscious decision. But suddenly, there was a there was an interest in plumper, guys. And that’s the assumption was that these guys wouldn’t be carrying a disease with them.
K Anderson 31:42
Just a quick side note, I do love that word, plump. plump. And so then in kind of discovering that there was this scene and that there was Yes, I’m gonna use the word phenomenon again, because I like that word as well. And I know you’ve kind of touched on this already. But how did that make you feel?
Darryl Bullock 32:02
It was it genuinely was it was it was phenomenal. It was it was it was mind expanding. It really was I just I had never imagined in my life. That sounds ridiculous, but it’s true. I had never ever imagined up until that point in my life that people would find me attractive. It wasn’t an issue for me. I had never I’d never had met up to that point. Certainly I had very very little confidence the way I looked. I didn’t like the way I looked. I have always been a big guy. I’ve always been overweight. I’m a lot more overweight now because it’s one but but I you know I’ve always had that extra few pounds of you stone. I started to lose my hair when I was in my teens so I was already had the receding hairline I hadn’t grown a beard at that point. But I had I’d had a moustache for a while I and I always had a thing about my lips is one of the reason I have a moustache and beard is I don’t like my lips.
K Anderson 33:10
Well what’s wrong with your lips?
Darryl Bullock 33:12
My lips really thin and I don’t like his Well, anyway, anyway, this is me. Okay, I did not I was okay with the fact that I was I was bored in it and wore glasses and was you know and all that kind of stuff and I was chunking I come to terms with it and I was okay about it. But it was the first time that complete strangers was starting to hit on me. And it was a really really weird experience. And I loved it loved it genuinely loved it. I i’ve never ever had an experience like it and it changed my life it absolutely changed my life. It well it made me look at myself in a completely different way for a start. It may it does doesn’t if if you know that other people find you attractive. You start to think about yourself in a different way. You hold yourself differently you walk differently. You don’t shy away the Korean hunched up and hide a summer gym, you know your neck stretches up a bit you you walk with a maybe a slight you know maybe a slight swagger. I don’t know but you do you comport yourself in a different way. And I went from feeling like I was ugly and an interesting and I’ve been lucky to have a few friends to suddenly having people asking me out and people not only asking me to blast me to do other things with them. I’m having some really interesting sex experiences, which had been had been happening, but they’ve been very few on the ground, you know, a few and far between and a bit vanilla. Suddenly more interesting things are happening in my life. And it was bloody fantastic. And loved it. I loved every second of it. I was hard for a little while. Not for very long, because I find out that some casual sex really doesn’t do anything. For me. It’s a bit rewarding and fulfilling. But for a little while I was a bit of a tyrant and I bloody loved it.
K Anderson 35:31
This is overlap at all with bath bath tap. And should we continue down this line of conversation?
Darryl Bullock 35:36
No, it does. It absolutely continues with the bar tab because here we go. About a year or sort of our top a bit open. I started working at a pub just around the corner from where I was living, public school, the white house it was it was a bikers pub. And I made no bones about being gay. Everybody knows gay there was never an issue was very welcomed by by the two people, the London landlady that run it was still my friends today. why most of the regulars, several of whom are still my friends today. And by law, the bikers that came in who never gave me any grief about being gay at all, never never an issue with them whatsoever. And so, again, that’s another boost of ego, isn’t it? That’s another self confidence. Philip, I feel like it’s you’re boosting that all the time. My my time at bath was fabulous, because I went from a bloody wallflower to being a very, very confident person. Annie, who was the landlady at the White Hart used to come to the bar tap me on the weekend. So we’d be working on a Sunday night, in the pub in the white hearts. pub would close usually close early, because by kind of 10 o’clock, the pub is empty. So we’d often close early, we go with the tap for the last hour, which they would always have cabaret on that point they’d be they always almost always a drug that so we go and we catch in there, we’d haven’t been not quite a few back while we were there. And then that last day, we’d be you know, and you could smoke in pubs in those states with drinking, smoking and do publish bang. And then when the tap closed we would all as a group, we’re all different maybe maybe it doesn’t have so of us. So the of the kind of regulars we would then go off to there was a hotel in Bath. And although the hotel was closed, they had the downstairs bar which is supposed to be for residents only would let you in if you knew them. And so a bunch of us 10 or 12 people would go there on a Sunday night. You know, best part of midnight and maybe stay there till one two o’clock in the morning. Couple of last drinks. So you had a bunch of gay people moving from one side of the city, right to the centre of the city. Screaming laughing joking maybe doing an occasional tablet on the way up the only time I’ve ever taken a pill once then I didn’t know what was somebody just gave me a pill I was on boy there I thought Fuck it. Let’s do it. I did it and I I shouldn’t I’ve never done it since but I did it. And we go to that we go into the things of Northgate hotel if I remember correctly, and we go into the into the cellar bar down there and we’d say definitely Coronavirus till they decided they want to decide. And so Annie became part of that bar tap crew and then it must have been 97 because I was still in the same flux. I was in that flat three years 94 through 97 we Annie and I organised a coach trip from the bathtub up to Gloucester to go to crackers. And so we organised a coach trip and we filled a coach from Bath from the bathtub, drill out to crackers for their Monday night is gay night thing and I met this guy there who became my boyfriend and for the next few months. So yes, there’s a crossover for you. And he was dirty.
K Anderson 39:02
Like you know, kind of garden variety dirty or like dirty. Now he was well I mean, we’ve got probably got different thresholds here.
Darryl Bullock 39:12
It’s a very strange person has put it that way. He was he did drag. There’s he was huge. He was at it was really really big guys about six foot four and about probably about 18 stone. He was enormous. He was and I’m best politics for any tired of me. But he was he was he seemed to be really nice, friendly, lovely guy. We got like a house on fire. The first time we met we met that night crackers. And then the following night he came to visit me and stayed overnight in Bath and he very quickly became part of my life but he was a fantasist he was. He was telling all sorts of lies about his private life, which were just rubbish. He told me he had kids when he didn’t teach him he was married when he wasn’t. He was he was a complete fantasy test. And so after a few months I kind of tweaked that he was just spinning me a line and i and i ended it. But for a couple of months, we had an interesting sex. Like rageous nothing too outrageous, nothing that two blokes shouldn’t be doing in a bedsit in
K Anderson 40:18
building this up to be something you know, right
Darryl Bullock 40:21
now it’s not it’s honestly. It’s really not. It’s not right. It was a fun. It was a fun few months. But he had to go. Yeah, but again, but again, it scratch that itch, and it helped build the confidence again. You know, I’ve gone out for the night with a bunch of friends and I’ve been the only one that bloody pulled. Which is nuts. If you think what I thought about it’s absolutely nuts. I was the one that pulled I was the one that had some guy, you know, drive that 30 miles down the motorway to come visit. And I’m basically wanting to be so good, though. I was doing okay, thank you very much. It was it was a fascinating time. Really, really interesting time in my life.
K Anderson 41:05
But it was a fantasies.
Darryl Bullock 41:07
Yeah, well, yeah. Two or three months a great sex. Who cares? Yeah. And he used to work at Shannon Racecourse in the kitchen department, so we used to bring home you know, huge huge bags of bacon and stuff like that. So I was fine. I didn’t pay for any food three, four months.
K Anderson 41:23
Quite literally brought home the bacon,
Darryl Bullock 41:25
literally. Massive bag of pre cooked kind of smoky crispy bacon, the kind of stuff you’d kind of probably break over. I don’t know jack potatoes or something like that. I had this this catering bag of of pre cooked bacon in my in my fridge that I’ve just I’ve just used for sandwiches or whatever, you know.
K Anderson 41:44
So we’re not still talking about freaky sex, are we? No, no, no, we really not that sort of pig. Sex was not freaky, but it was fun. It was fun. So so what what comes first, did you leaving bath or the bath tap closing
Darryl Bullock 42:07
me leaving bar. But it changed hands several times. I don’t even pizza were only there for about maybe four years, I guess. Maybe five. Five might be stretching it but certainly for years. And it felt like every successive landlord or manager or couple that came in, didn’t really know what to do with the place. They tried. They tried doing food for wasn’t very good. They tried having upstairs rooms to let out. That didn’t really work. They tried different different types of types of music on the DJ night didn’t really happen. And it was kind of losing its losing it lost its edge kind of quickly. It stayed open, I left bath in 2004. So I’ve been there for 10 years, I moved from Bath to Bristol, where I am now still 16 years later. And the bathtub was still there for a couple years after that. It closed down it reopened it closed. And it really the last incarnation I’m aware of it was run by a lesbian couple who were doing quite well with it. But by that time, another gay pub it opened in, in Bath. That was a pub called mandolins, which was originally owned by a lesbian couple. And that did really well that did really good business. They knew exactly how to look after their crowd. Again, lovely, friendly couple. Lots of different themed nights, lots of stuff happening. And at this point, of course, the licencing arrows change the smoking ban had come in. There are lots of reasons why you wouldn’t want to hang around a single one room bar anymore, you know. And so a lot of the trade the trade sorry, a lot of the business not the way the trade went. But a lot of the business moved to mandolins was called Madeline’s because it was owned by a couple called Amanda and Lynn. You see, led Well, of course, shortly after they moved into the pub and then Lynn stayed with she got a new partner Claire who’s lovely and still a friend of mine today.
K Anderson 44:27
Wait so what would that be meant Mandalay had the name video didn’t become your big credit loons are supposed to change. But and then that the end of mandolins is still there today. It’s it’s again, it’s changed hands several times. It doesn’t have the same following but it’s still there. The bathtub I think close for good. Random but we’ll close won’t run about 2008 and then reopened briefly for about a year. Then closed again, then reopened as a gastropub, which changed its name, I think was called the 15 or the 19 or something like that. And that’s now closed as well. So I think that closed maybe four years ago, and I don’t believe there’s anything there now. It’s a huge shame that it’s no longer there. And it’s a shame that Alan Peter went off and went to do whatever they did. But things move on things change, you know, everything changes. I’m just grateful it was there. At a time of my life that I really needed it. I don’t know if I if I would have had as positive an experience of living in barf. I lived in Bob for 10 years and loved every second of it. I don’t know if it would have been anything like is good. If that place hadn’t been there. And I don’t very much I’d be the person I am married to the person I’m married to. If it hadn’t been for that pub. Making one those people making me feel more at one with myself. genuinely believe that. Did you ever go to bath tap? Well, if you did, I would love to hear from you. Please share any stories or photos that you have from that time. You can reach me on social media, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, under the user handle K Anderson music. And you can also find out more about Darryl at his website world’s worst records.blogspot.com and look out for his new book, The Velvet mafia, the gay man who ran the swinging 60s, which comes out in 2021. Last bases is not only a podcast, but a concept record as well. I’ve been writing songs about queer venues and the people who used to live their lives there. And we’ll be releasing songs over the coming year. You can hear the first single well groomed boys which is also playing underneath my talking right now. On all go to streaming platforms. If you liked this episode, I would really appreciate if you subscribed, left a review on Apple podcasts or just told people who you think might also be interested. I am K Anderson and you have been listening to lost spaces