Saturday 9th June – Yesterday, during a shopping sojourn in town avec ma femme, we took a spontaneous pit stop for liquid refreshment at the Alchemist bar.
From it’s lofty perch located on the upper floor of the Trinity shopping centre, this agreeable eatery/cocktail bar bequeaths striking views of Boar Lane’s splendid Georgian architecture. Aesthetics that never fail to woe my spouse into it’s chambers, along with the opportunity to sip on a mojito, or if so inclined a mocktail.
GJ Strachan knows how to treat a lady. “Let’s go to the Alchemist and look at some classically designed early 20th century buildings, love.” a courting call I’ve learned that never fails to attract the fairer sex.
It’s certainly far more successful than my late teens efforts of “What football team do you support?” A woeful courting approach that ordinarily ended in me being maced by the young lady of my attentions. If it hadn’t have been for my discovery of chloroform, who knows, I may still be single!
Sadly, my offer of refreshment in the locale of classic architecture doesn’t work with every pub in Leeds. “Let’s go to the Colton Mill and look at the 21st century built McDonalds, Subway, and Travelodge.” being a classic example of failing to appeal to my beloved’s romantic side.
The city centre views are that of constructions built around the time of my grandparent’s childhoods in this fair metropolis. Occasionally, when witnessing these edifices my mind regresses to the early part of the 1900’s.
I picture my great granddad plying his then trade (a carter) – Leading his horse and cart, laden with retailers wares or furniture, in the direction of the Corn Exchange. Dodging trams and fellow carters, I imagine him sauntering adjacent to the very same buildings that I gawp at from the engaging cocktail bar next to the Holy Trinity church.
I’ve given visions of his tired horse longing for lighter flat packed furniture to be invented. My great granddad appearing in monochrome with grime ingrained face, dark suit, white collarless shirt and flat cap. His shoes having seen better days – Like yesterday, for example, before his clumsy equine inadvertently stood on his foot.
No doubt my forefather would have worked back-breakingly long hours for a pittance. Limping home to his Woodhouse abode fatigued, hungry and ready to partake his evening job as a trampoline for his eleven kids. An joyless existence not a life, but on the plus side TV’s Love Island didn’t exist then so it wasn’t all bad.
Who knows, maybe one of my relations my have contributed in some form to the construction of these wonderfully designed and crafted edifices. The masonry of the stones perhaps, or transporter of building materials by horse and cart.
As someone who’s undertaken research into his family genealogy, I’m intrigued at the part these Georgian structures may have played in my forefathers existences a century ago.
For example, back in 1900, would our now past relative with the clumsiness gene my brother Ian later inherited, have inadvertently pulled the handle off the front door of the LS1 building in which he worked…… Would a distant relative on my mum’s side have possessed her descriptive quirkiness – Deeming the poorly made wooden tenon joints on one construction’s door frames to be “Like my arse!”
One day I need to extend my research further than dates and places of birth on my family tree, digging deeper into the actual tales of my roots. Fictional thoughts are harmless, but I aspire one day to unearth the real story behind the carter’s existence in the early part of the 20th century.
Anyhow, shortly into yesterday’s regression back to Leeds in 1900 I felt a tap on my shoulder, bringing my wandering mind back to the Alchemist in 2018. The culprit of the shoulder nudge was Karen, who on attracting my attention barked:-
“Gary, will you stop day dreaming about your great-granddad shifting furniture on Boar Lane in 1900!…… I need you to get me a mojito from the bar, you slack get!”