That Night in Bolton by Alan Houghton
I alighted outside the Alma, the first pub on Bolton’s Golden Mile. There were no piers, tower, or sea-front like Blackpool, but Bradshawgate, Churchgate and Deansgate was where the night life was. Bolton was a pub town and groups of young people followed their own favoured pub route. We normally met in the Lower Nags Head, a dive bar on Deansgate. On this occasion, I was early, so there was time for a swift one in the Alma. I handed over two bob for a pint of mild to get this special night off to a good start.
After meeting up in the Lower Nags Head, we moved on to the Golden Lion, affectionately known as the Brass Cat. Then it was across the road to the Swan Hotel and followed by the Man and Scythe a few doors down on Churchgate. Friday night would not be complete without a couple of pasties from Ye Olde Pastie Shop to soak up some of the ale. As 11 o’clock last orders loomed, it was a sprint to the Millstone in Crown Street.
The night club scene in Bolton was not great but it was the only way to extend the drinking session until 02:00 hours. So, it was ties on as we joined the queue on Bank Street for the Cromwellian Club. When asked to give my birthdate by the bouncer, I remembered to say it a year early. There were sighs of relief all round as we rendezvoused at the bar downstairs, happy that we had all got in.
After sorting out whose round it was, we assumed our positions on the edge of the dance floor, watching all the girls dancing in circles around their handbags. At midnight exactly, I opened the pack of Henri Winterman cigars and we all lit up. All my friends burst out singing “Happy birthday” as I celebrated my 18th birthday and my first legitimate pint. The bouncers looked on in mock horror. Then as the last dance approached, one of my mates pleaded “Can you dance with the brunette, Susan as I really fancy her mate Pam?”
“Happy birthday, Darling” my wife said bringing me breakfast in bed, “What are you thinking?”. “Just that one night in Bolton, Susan” I replied.