Monday, July 15, 2013

Back to the Cat's Back

The Cat's Back was the best pub in Putney with a motley crew of regulars, an in-house pissed artist, live music and bohemian, ramshackle interior design. It survived the regeneration of the old industrial part of Putney beside Wandsworth park, but always seemed at odds with the new, soulless luxury apartments dwarfing the charming old building. It closed for renovation last year and opened again as a bland, generic, over lit Harvey's chain pub, complete with cynical nostalgia in the form of forties music and old photographs on the walls.

Me and my boon companion were regulars in the old Cat's Back for a while, chatting to the locals and watching their mysterious comings and goings. Something was always going on, we had no idea what, but it was fun speculating. It was a real locals pub with a friendly, community spirit. Outside was an old petrol pump and a few random wooden tables and chairs. A broken window in the front had been cunningly covered up with a large Halloween spider's web sticker and flashing Christmas lights. Inside was dark and bizarre, cluttered with bric-a-brac and posters, photos and paintings on the walls. A glitter ball and chandelier on the ceiling. Candles on the tables. The School Kids Issue of OZ magazine was in a frame. A huge poster for Johnny Suede. A Nick Cave poster: a friend (a huge Nick Cave fan) was playing bridge in there some years ago and couldn't believe her eyes when she looked up and saw the man himself sipping on a pint.

One of the most intriguing locals was a man we dubbed 'the pissed artist'. He was an artist, and he was usually drunk. He was in the pub all the time. His paintings were on the walls. He would stand at the bar, sketchbook and pencil in hand, looking out for attractive women (of which there were always many), draw them, and present the drawing to them. They were usually pleased.

For a while the entire Cat's Back – the staff, the locals, the bric-a-brac, the petrol pump, the posters – had decamped around the corner to The Armoury but on returning a few months later, this too had been taken over by a generic chain. What a shame. We haven't been back since.

Previously on Barnflakes: 
Cats Eyes Removed


Caspar said...

That's actually heartbreaking. I'm being serious.

Barnaby said...

Yes, it's pretty sad. Was a unique pub.

Chelsea said...

This is fantastic!