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The Bristol Booze Odyssey #5

Tony Bolger continues his journey around Bristol's pubbiest pubs…

Episode 5: The Bulldog, Filton Avenue

Every day, my bus, the 71 goes up Gloucester Road through Filton and past The Bulldog. The bus stop is actually called The Bulldog. Without fail, I look out the window to see the assembled characters congregating outside the pub. I’m always intrigued. There are always people rushing to get on the bus. I've never seen anyone get off. Today, I got off.

Past the half dozen picnic benches outside, there’s a sign inviting people to “Come in and roast your chestnuts by our open fire.” This is literally a bad sign.

There’s an old school hat stand just inside the door which would be more at home in a detective’s office from the 30s. There are no coats hanging from it. I wonder why. I walk into the big open room with a pool table and a dart board down the far end. There’s a couple of empty booths but there’s no space around the bar area at 4 o’clock on a Thursday afternoon.

There isn’t a fireplace in sight. And no chestnuts.

The barmaid greets me with an “Alright me luvver”. I’ve waited two years to hear a Bristol girl say this.

There are no ales on tap but there are two fridges, one brimming with cans of Natch and the other with Thatchers. On tap they offer Carling, Stella and Fosters. I order a Stella and the friendly barmaid asks me if it’s OK if I have it in a Fosters glass because Mark is using the Stella one. It costs £3:70. You can smell/taste the toilets from the end of the bar.

Beside the three fruit machines, there’s a jukebox pumping out a steady stream of generic gangster rap. Past this, there's an alarming selection of those machines where you put a quid into a slot and twist and then jelly beans come out. They've also got those toys in balls things. It's a real Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Child Catcher’s corner.

I take a seat in front of a sandwich board advertising

Sitting here. I imagine Karaoke Friday being like X-Factor mixed with The Hunger Games. Entertainment Saturday is as vague as it is ominous, and Meat Raffle Sunday could be anything from baskets of plucked crows to organised swinging.

I finish my drink quickly, put three quid into the juke box and get the hell out before Kylie comes on.

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