Suzi Feay: This is the life

Share

Off to the beautiful city of Bath for the weekend with a group of good friends, some of whom I've never met before. And already I encounter a problem of the I-say-tomahto, you-say-tomayto variety. At a very grand dinner recently I sat next to Lord Bath (you know - lions, loins, attractive wifelets, embroidered weskits), and before long put my clog in it. I was telling the Lion of Longleat about the diaries of Frances Partridge.

Off to the beautiful city of Bath for the weekend with a group of good friends, some of whom I've never met before. And already I encounter a problem of the I-say-tomahto, you-say-tomayto variety. At a very grand dinner recently I sat next to Lord Bath (you know - lions, loins, attractive wifelets, embroidered weskits), and before long put my clog in it. I was telling the Lion of Longleat about the diaries of Frances Partridge. "She's always going on about visiting the Baths," I said. He looked confused. "The what?" Blimey. Poor soul doesn't know his own parents, I thought. "She used to stay with the Baths a lot," I said, enunciating clearly. "You know - at Longleat." His Lordship got very testy at this point. "Look here! What do you call it when you immerse yourself full-length in water for the purposes of washing?"

Lord Bath is well known for his eccentricity so I thought I'd humour the poor darling. "I suppose," I said thoughtfully, "I'd call it a bath."

His Lordship looked crestfallen. "Would you really? Because I'd call it a barth." "Well, I'm afraid I'd call it a bath," I said briskly.

The vins fins had been flowing without stint, so it wasn't until next morning that I realised how appallingly rude I'd been; just as much as if someone said to me: "I'm afraid I pronounce it Fee-yay, and that's that." (Though I was once asked if I was sure that's how my name is spelt.)

So I don't suppose I'll be popping in to see Lord Bath-sorry-Barth now, and besides, in the true English aristocratic fashion, I expect his stately pile is nowhere near Bath itself. But I've got a lot on my plate anyway. Why is it, usually around 10pm when the plebeian lagers have been flowing without stint, that you suddenly look around and say to yourself, wherever you are: "This... is... the... best bar in the world"? It happened to me on Saturday night, in Bath's gloriously unironic Lambretta Bar. (I first came across this syndrome as a student in Leeds, when I used to frequent a fetid hole in the ground called The Warehouse. Impressionable folk from NME and The Face were always - puzzlingly - voting it the best club in Britain. As a baby journalist I saw a new Manchester band there, fronted by a pained epicene who thrashed himself with a bunch of gladioli. Yes, I was the first hack in Leeds to herald Morrissey and pals in print, though my moment of glory was tempered by the fact that the headline on the piece ran: THE SIMTHS HAVE ARRIVED! An early and valuable lesson that the subs will get you every time.)

Why is the Lambretta Bar so great? Only because it's the sort of place where you can spend all night monopolising the pool table, laughing hysterically and continually hitting the overhead lights with your pool cue - and none of the regulars takes that pool cue and beats you to death with it. They're that laid-back in Bath.

The next day, nursing a hangover (I'd tried smothering it in its crib, but no luck) I crept over to the Holburne museum, situated in a wonderful Regency building once frequented by the Great Jane (Austen). It currently hosts an entertaining exhibition called "Sleeping Beauties", filled with artworks pre-, post- and in the course of conservation, with panels explaining what needed to be done in each case to bring the dormant treasure back to life. I expect I missed the subtleties, but the treatment seems to boil down to: "We scrape the crud off and touch it up with Dulux." And the room is filled with masterpieces that look as though they were painted yesterday! Er...

I'd been wondering what had happened to Bath's legendary crusties - on previous visits it's been crawling with capering pedlars, and the sort of indigents who hunker down by the cashpoint displaying their piercings like medieval beggars used to air their sores. Their numbers seem to be down on previous years. But outside the Holburne I spotted a lavishly pierced crusty in a fluorescent jacket, laboriously coning off the length of Great Pulteney Street. It turned out that the area was being taken over by a film crew. Soon the ravishing Georgian street was filled with cherrypickers, busily removing the 21st-century accretions from the noble stone. If Reese Witherspoon has a spare moment during the filming of Vanity Fair, I'm up for a game of pool in the Lambretta Bar.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Executive

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An On-line Sales & Customer Ser...

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Assistant - Fixed Term Contract - 6 Months

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the largest hospitality companies...

Recruitment Genius: Electricians - Fixed Wire Testing

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As a result of significant cont...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£16575 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An excellent opportunity is ava...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A police officer carries a casualty to safety  

Tunisia attack proves that we cannot stop terrorists carrying out operations against Britons in Muslim countries

Robert Verkaik
Alan Titchmarsh MP?  

Alan Titchmarsh MP? His independent manifesto gets my vote

Jane Merrick
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with excess, cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
A year of the caliphate:

Isis, a year of the caliphate

Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?