At one point in every sensible and conscientious person’s life come those essential questions; have I ever commandeered a merchant vessel, pillaging it for its cargo? When will come my time to read Bakunin and tear through the streets in my anarchist black and red? Thankfully, if you’re in need of that little extra push into your new anarco-pirate personal life choices, then you need look no further than The Firkin Shed on Holdenhurst Road, Bournemouth’s very own hidden gem of a pirate galley/micro pub.
With its walls adorned with carnival puppets, amalgamated skulls and a chaotic cornucopia of authentic documentation of a life well lived, The Firkin shed is a true find. Flags from every corner of the word adorn its low-slung ceiling, while board games fill its cupboards and cask ale lurks mysteriously in the back down a corridor reminiscent of your old dive bar days, but one with distinctly better taste in music.
Paul Gray, dressed in camouflage fatigues is our blue-bearded host, topped with a Tom Waits style Gatsby, who has for the past two and a half years been providing a safe haven in the shape of his wooden decked galley of a tavern, serving uniquely anarchistic beer as well as bringing to the good people Cider and (excellent, excellent) Mead, both of which are provided by one Tim Beer of Marshwood Vale. That’s Mr Beer, who provides the Mead and Cider, let’s get that clear.
With a soundtrack that includes Waits, Beefheart and The Fun Loving Spoonful, there’s also a caravan of traveling musicians usually passing through, from locals such as Berg and the Back Porch Band to those coming from as far as Brazil by way of Spain and Japan. Jukebox tastes favour Bluegrass, Country-Punk and String bands, but I get the impression that were you to walk in with this machine kills fascists across any number of shoulder slung instruments and strike up a set of protest songs; you’d be welcomed as a long lost son/daughter of The Shed.
What made me giddy and weak at the knees with thanks was the pub’s strict “No phones, no social media” rules, along with those accepting “sexy cash” only (i.e. no cards) as well as politely requesting that all fairies leave their dust at home. “People should be in a pub with beer and political conversation!” Paul exclaimed with a boisterous gregariousness befitting of his pirate class. When asked how he might advertise the pub against all others in the surrounding coastal area, he simply answered, “I wouldn’t.” “Places like this,” Paul continued, “should be found by friends” the pub having found both a loyal clientele of locals (including the artists who cover their walls with original work) as well as the traveling beer enthusiast crowd.
You’ll have to forgive me of my ignorance when it comes to micro brews, but those I spoke to (as well as an amazing old dear who in between sips of beer discussed the upcoming Nick Cave show, octogenarians and gothic legends unite!) spoke incredibly highly of it. For me, it would be the Viking’s Blood Mead (£3.50), which was seductively sweet; having been mixed with cherry wine, and made me consider all manor of immoral and tender thoughts.
Ale enthusiasts, sailors of the seven seas, those in search of an idealistically better world amid these dark and troublesome days, step on deck and climb aboard with us. If Bournemouth is to be by the sea, then I for one believe that we need a few beloved black flags upon the horizon, for no other town can boast such a perfect blend of familial warmth and revolutionary solidarity.