Memories: Philomena (Phil) Chambers

I used to run the “Princess of Wales” PH at 27 Villiers Street for 5 years – circa 1983 to 1988, when we had to leave the pub trade because of my husband’s health. Too much drink!! Gordon’s used to be my much loved bolt-hole daily. At that time Alistair was the manager (very camp as those who knew him will remember well)!

I also met Luis on several occasions and now live near and I am great friends with one of Luis’ oldest friends who I am sure Wendy will remember. Ian Rawlings and his wife Carol? I live in Cornwall and they are in Devon, but Ian has a yearly trip to London to meet some of his old friends from the wine trade, originally meeting at Rules. Alistair used to keep me in wine at xmas and my daily Kir Royale. Those were the days which I am grateful to have had, as I also met/saw many famous people.

Like Luis, my husband, John Chambers, passed away aged 69 in 2009. I hear the “Princess” has changed a lot and my accommodation upstairs is now a restaurant. My other regular was the “Ship and Shovel”. Good memories and good old days which I shall never forget, especially on my birthday sitting outside on Watergate with Alistair, celebrating!!

Ali also had a cat which sat on the food etc, having said that my dad said it was the best cheese he had ever tasted and Ali said because it was never refrigerated!? I didn’t tell dad about the cat. Health and Safety was not in Ali’s vocabulary!!!

I have spoken to Ian Rawlings and he did know that you, Simon, were involved in running Gordon’s, but not your mum, whom he knew well. I think Ian and Carol were at Luis’ funeral.

My staff at the PoW used to have their break (45 mins) at the wine bar and return in quite a state sometimes, particularly if Ali fancied my barman

I remember taking some friends to Gordon’s and while sitting having a lovely glass or two, a very dusty Spitfire hung on string gave up the ghost and landed in our food/drink covering everything in a thick coating of dust. I would love to have run Gordon’s but Alistair told me I would spoil it by trying to clean things up and he was probably right.

Another publican friend who had the “Lemon Tree” had just had a visit from the Health and Safety. He then went to the wine bar with John and back to his pub throwing everything around, saying to his wife we are doing everything wrong here quick get some more dirt, our pub’s empty and the wine bar I have just been to is filthy and packed. You can imagine!!!

Our regular group meeting nightly at Gordon’s used to call ourselves the “GODOTS”. One of the group, after 5 or 6 Riojas, would say goodnight from a “Dizzy Old Tart”, hence “Gordon’s Dizzy Old Tarts” – the toast was “may these be the worst of our days”!! Champagne/wine in hand.

I am still in touch with one or two, but most have, unfortunately, moved abroad.

GOOD LUCK FOR THE FUTURE OF GORDON’S and the next 100 years.

Philomena (Phil) Chambers