Tales from Coopers Townhouse Part 4: John
To be perfectly honest, I was a little scared of coming in here the first time, I ashamedly tell John, – a seasoned regular of Coopers, who casually sauntered his way over to our table for a bit of a brief, curious chat.
He scrunches his face up in disbelief and shakes his head at the idea, before taking a sip of his pint and exclaiming, proudly, Nah, it’s not like that here. Anyone’s welcome – you can come in and there’s no judgement. No-one cares how you’re dressed, or anythin’ like that.
There’s a brief quizzical look in his eyes as he stares at me following this statement that seems to quietly suggest that he’s assessing my appearance – the all black ensemble, the threadbare oversized band t-shirt, the tattoos, the bandana – with pride at the truth of his own words. That, no – I mightn’t look like the stereotypical punter for this kind of place, but little does it matter, girl. You’re welcome, whenever.
Which is lovely, considering that I once got laughed out of the toilets of a bar on Lark Lane for not wearing a frock, high heels and more layers of make up than Liz Taylor had husbands.
He continues, You know, like, you got all those trendy bars in this city don’t yer? And you walk in an’people look you up and down and make a judgement on yer. You always get those women – I like to say about them that if they were a cake they’d eat themselves, which is true, innit – those women who’ve spent most their wages on a dress and have spent an entire day getting ready, and they expect everyone else to live up to their standards. They look down their noses at yer. I hate that. There’s no need. See, like, the women in ‘ere? Dead easy to talk to. Proper sound.
As he says this, the owner of the pub Maria, cranes her head out from behind the bar and yells, Eh you! I’ve told you before, you’re bloody barred! at John, who remains calm as if he’s heard it all before, and gives her a polite gesture to piss off.
I mean it! She continues, completely deadpan so I start to sweat a little, Get out!
She retains a straight face for a while before completely crumbling into a cacophony of giggles, and disappearing back behind the bar.
See what I mean, girl? John grins, taking another swig of his drink before we start talking about the city centre and it’s surrounding areas – of the gentrification that has been going on for a while, and the impact this has had on small businesses, and the character of Liverpool as a whole.
That’s the problem now, he sighs, Places popping up that aren’t authentic. Those trendy bars, like – there’s nothing to them. No atmosphere, no character. But people don’t care about places like that the way that people do with places like this – everyone looks after everyone else in here. It’s a proper family, like.
He sighs, sadly, and finishes his drink before stating These sorts of pubs are dying, love, and it’s a real shame cos you won’t find many places like this in the city centre.
He has a quick stretch before standing up, Well, that’s me done for me now, love. Pleasure talking to yer! Might see yer around.
And off he pops. As he’s leaving a man has taken over singing duties at the front of the pub, and is finishing the first verse of the Irish singalong favourite ‘The Wild Rover’ whilst a small attentive and gleeful crowd cheers him on – not a judgement in sight.
…and I’ve spent all my money on whiskey and beer, and now I’m returning with gold in great store…
Photography by Pete McConnell.