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Friday, 8 January 2016

The City of Quebec, Marylebone

The Quebec first opened in the run-up to World War II. At the height of The Blitz (so, I'm reliably informed), "Hello sailor!" was a common greeting at this ancient queer beer bar, as one strand of London society cemented the Special Relationship with America - whose off-duty Marines and GIs had more to offer than chewing gum and silk stockings. Back in the day,  'gay' was an adjective restricted to describing the jaunty Jacqmar silk scarf Mrs. Miniver wore to jolly up her make-do-and-mend frock, fashioned from a pair of brown curtains. It looked like curtains too for The Quebec - threatened with a future as another faceless fast food joint - until owners Greene King stepped in and saved the old girl, splashing a six-figure sum on a make over that drags the Quebec's tired decor into the 21st Century (just).
 At a time when gay bars are going down faster than a fluffer on Sean Cody's porn star penis, it's a welcome reprieve for (Nelly) 'the elephant's graveyard' - as I've oft heard the place referred to on account of its core punters' seniority. Marvel, as mouthy slappers such as Lola Lasagne, Baga Chipz or Vanity Von Glow strut their stuff onstage. Still got it? Shake a leg to Dolly, Dusty, Donna and Madonna in the Quebec's downstairs disco, open until 3am at weekends. When I say 'shake a leg', I'm reminded of an evening - circa Kylie, Mel and Kim - when a forlorn Glaswegian pal asked me to escort him there. That's 'escort' as in chaperone; I don't accept Amex. Recently dumped (again), he was out on a bender, hoping to be under one before the night was through. A crinkly screamer hobbled over to chat up chuckee chum who, on a there-but-for-the- grace-of-God basis, decided to humour the poor thing. Motioning downwards, the gummy old queen piped up with “My strap-on is giving me gip. You won't mind if I take it off?” ...and duly does, propping  his prosthetic lower left limb up against our table. Chuckee (mortified): “Nae mair drink for you, hen! You’re fuckin' legless." By the time I took my leave of them, they looked mighty cosy but, to this day, Chuckee swears he did not fuck Legless. 
At the new old Quebec, butch it up with draught TT Landlord or try dolly cocktails shaken by 'Delicious Dave'' (pictured, below) - cheap by West End standards (the drinks, not Dave!)
 "You'll love the Dainty Damsel" (a Sipsmith damson vodka Bellini) maintains a bright-eyed staffer, mistaking me for TOWIE's Bobby Norris or Gok Wan ("Liberace, more like!" - Editor). She also reckons I'll like the "really good Prosecco." At £48 quid a pop, I should hope so. "Show me!" I say. She points to a bottle of Bollinger. OMG! Vada the dizzy polone! That's polari, by the way. "Polari?" you say. Ask Biggins, Barrymore, a retired Romford riah zhoosher, or some other gnarly ol' Nancy!
12 Old Quebec Street W1H 7AF
Photo: Greene King / Louise Jolley