“The lie of a pipedream is what gives life to the whole misbegotten mad lot of us, drunk or sober.”
This quote from US playwright Eugene O’Neil is handwritten on a blackboard in one corner of the Pipe & Slippers, a Cheltenham Road local that is now something of a stalwart on Bristol’s nightlife scene.
It may have a 1am license from Thursday to Sunday with a roster of different DJs, but it’s not just nocturnal fun that is had here.
On a recent Thursday evening, the pub was filling up quickly soon after 6pm as some classic old-school hip-hop – Regulate by Warren G and Express Yourself by NWA – came on the speakers.
“You’ll never guess what happened to me last night,” a blonde 20-something at the bar excitedly told her group of friends.
Close to the DJ booth covered liberally in stickers, a couple were tucking in to burgers from kitchen residents Smoke & Glaze.
On Sundays here, Tucha’s Kitchen serves roasts with meat from Murrays further up Gloucester Road, and veggie and vegan options available. Can’t choose? Have a mix of lamb, pork and beef on one plate for £15.95.
Shona Graham, owner of Emmeline cafe next door, used to be the Pipe’s manager. In the EatDrink24/7 2019 guide, she said that “years ago (the pub) led the way for many more venues in Stokes Croft and are unrivaled for a good old-fashioned Bristol knees-up”.
The Pipe & Slippers opened in 2004, replacing the Berkeley Castle which could trace its history back to 1851. A reminder of its former incarnation remains with a wrought-iron castle above the pub sign.
On Thursday, a new visitor to the pub nursed a pint of Fortitide from Bristol Beer Factory as he sunk into one of the leather chairs just too small for the table it was next to.
Beneath O’Neill’s quote is another from somebody called Martini Frilly: “I just want one day off when I can go swimming and eat ice cream and look at rainbows.”
We’ll drink to that as a pipedream, drunk or sober.
The Pipe & Slippers, 118 Cheltenham Road, Bristol, BS6 5RW
0117 942 7711