by Aunty Di
Diamonds are only occasionally found lying in the open veldt of South Africa. To find the most precious examples and bring their full sparkle out in the light, one must dig multiple mines and sift away the debris and polish the gems that are revealed. So it is in Cambridge.
The first real mine that appeared in Cambridge was the then Town and Gown pub (now The Punter) on Pound Hill about 10 years ago. Landlords John and Roger had recently taken over and offered the premises for a TG night if we wanted to use it.
The Town and Gown soon became affectionately known as the T&G. Its three bars plus courtyard and disco reclaimed from the coach house and stables of its original coaching inn status were the place to be on a Wednesday night. Girls flocked from several counties to meet people like themselves and strike up new friendships for help and support.
The group enjoyed a wonderful few years at this venue until one dreadful night in October 2002 John suddenly passed away. Several nail biting months later Roger was to learn that the licence would not be passed to him and in June 2003 we all moved to the Bird in Hand on Newmarket Road.
The Bird soon became the popular place to be and life continued with changing facilities and Bar Food as standard. Roger was an accomplished cook and provided excellent meals at both pubs included our celebrated Christmas Dinners.
At some time Roger teamed up with David. They became business partners and also acquired the Rose and Crown just a few yards up Newmarket Road. Eventually David became landlord of the Bird and Roger stayed at the R&C.
One Christmas a marquee appeared in the garden of the Bird and 30 girls sat down to a fantastic three course meal followed by a disco in the pub. Unfortunately this was also followed by a visit from the Police as we were a tad bit loud and a 'few' people complained........................
The fireworks were wonderful though.
Another time David put on a drag show in the Marquee which also closed early due to another visit from Guess Who!! Rumour had it that Cambridge's finest would take up position on the roof of Parkside when they knew that there was an event at the Bird and if the decibels reached them it was time for action. Ho Hum!!
The T&G and the Bird had been the preferred New Years Eve venues for many girls who would not have been able to enjoy the event as their CD selves without these splendid facilities and we salute all those who made such wonderful memories happen.
Once again the fireworks were something else!!
Sadly the time came when we had to move over the road to Mine Number Three, the Rose and Crown, leaving the Bird to be taken on by other incumbents. Roger decided to leave the pub trade for ever and moved onto pastures new, never to be forgotten by all who loved him.
The R&C turned out to be a very different type of venue and although we had many friends there it turned out to be better suited to the younger gay crowd and after David left we wandered over Elizabeth Way Bridge to the Fleur de Lys and landlord Malcolm.
Little did we know that unsettled times were ahead and that we would ultimately be forced to leave and return to the Rose and Crown.
We had settled into the Fleur enjoying the Bingo and Quiz nights on a Wednesday and had become Tuesday Girls for those who wanted a quieter atmosphere. Tragically though we lost Malcolm to a sudden devastating illness and although the crew struggled on for a few months the pub was eventually taken over by business men who turned it into a Bistro and who made it clear that we were no longer welcome there.
We returned to the Rose and Crown in 2007, where Ryan (Pixie) was our wonderful new landlord.
Ryan spoilt us on Wednesday nights by providing free sandwiches, crisps and dips and wonderful changing facilities in his very own dressing room. All the crew are fantastically welcoming and accommodating and we love them to bits.
The Bird in Hand is now back in gay hands after a period in the straight doldrums and we are now luxuriating in the choice of two venues. Its splendid period decor has restored this fantastic building to its former glory and soon food will be available so it will be a Dining Club venue in the near future.
The last decade has been an interesting and varied one and there were times when we were more nomad than diamond but for the time being at least we can safely say that we have come home. The future is about developing the group and providing a safe and supportive haven for any TG person who is in Cambridge at any time and has nowhere to go.
Imminent demolition of the Rose & Crown leads to yet another decampment, this time to a new mainstream venue, the Corner House.
Our host there is Dave Green, and as well as the friendly atmosphere and necessariy facilities, the Cornerhouse also promises the temptation of good quality meals.
The Corner House is always open to us as is the Bird in Hand and long may they both prosper!!