Jeffrey Bernard Is Unwell

“I was asked to write my autobiography and I put a letter in the Spectator asking if anyone could tell me what I was doing between 1960 and 1974”. — Jeffrey Bernard

Coach & Horses Jeffery Bernard is unwell Poster

Last night went to see the excellent ‘Jeffery Bernard is Unwell’ staring Tom Conti back on for a 12 week run in the West End after a decade’s absence. The play holds a special place in my heart having frequented regularly the Coach & Horses while at St Martins College round the corner, happily and not so happily pissing away my grant… I never saw Jeff in there I don’t think? He was wheelchair bound having lost a leg by then, but Norman and an ever changing cast of barmen were still there, (Norman only retired in April of this year, his autobiography entitled ‘You’re Barred, you Bastards!’ goes for £85+ on Amazon) And I remember Jeff’s funeral cortege coming down Old Compton Street in ’97 when he finally popped it.

We nipped to the Coach & Horses first for a pre-theatre swifty, just to get us in the mood. I’ve not been in there since what, the late 90s? It’s not changed a bit, not one iota… except the prices have gone up. Then it was off down the Charring Cross Road to the Garrick. The set is a faithful reproduction of the pub, but seen through the eyes of a real boozer, so it’s all wonky edges and lines. The show starts with Jeff locked in the pub in total darkness ..”shit” he says as he hits his head on a table. He then lights a match, and you’re reminded why live performance is ace as the smell of sulphur quickly followed by cigarette smoke hits you.

Go and see it, Tickets are £20 if you ask for the “What’s on Stage” discount.

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These are my personal views and not those of Channel 4 or the BBC
June 2006

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