The Continental

The Continental

Known to everyone as The Conti, this place wasn’t on my radar for a while because it never advertised. No leaflets, no flyers, no logo – I can just about remember a sign that may have been in red letters on a white vertical strip suggesting something more in the line of a cheap cash-and-carry than a glamorous night-out. And it was a basement, down a flight of steep stairs on a little dark back-street. Inside, it was like being in a transport caff with the chairs and tables all cleared to the sides so you could have a boogie. To add to the M62 trucker-chic there was even a hatch with a burger lady feeding the hungry punters. But it was always packed to the rafters and the vibe was always mellow. But being an afterhours Happy Eater with the aroma of fried onions wasn’t the main reason for its pulling power – it was all about word-of-mouth and the word was that this was the place to ‘get off with a nurse’ – most likely on a Tuesday night when nurses got in free. Now I’m not sure where the association came to be, as tucked away off Sackville Street it certainly wasn’t near any particular hospital I can remember. But say the word ‘nurse’ to any post-pubescent male student and his eyes would bulge with excitement. This was evident by the stream of excitable young academics queuing up down the stairs and round the block. There was no door policy or dress-code, just that tantalising carrot of possible liason with a young Barbara Windsor, dangling over the evening ahead. A nurse seems to be the perfect bridge between mother and girlfriend and when you’re away from home and feeling a little home-sick or just out-of-sorts who wouldn’t be partial to a little tlc especially professionally administered from an angel in powder blue who could also address any glandular fever medication needs? But in all my visits to The Conti, I never met a single nurse or heard of anyone who did. So I’m not sure if the whole ‘nurse’ thing was mythic and a very clever subtle marketing ploy by the brains behind The Continental, who never spent a single penny on advertising. They didn’t spend anything on DJs either because the music was straight out of a good old-fashioned jukebox.

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