So, yes, maybe it’s best for everyone’s health that Pete isn’t around right now. For Carl Barât, he’s happy to be The Albion Rooms’ groovy Basil Fawlty for the monent. But he has a wife and two young children back in east London, so he can’t be here all the time.
“Yeah, that is another worry: that people will come here, expecting to see me – ‘what a swizz, I didn’t see a Libertine!’ And they’ll be gutted when I’m not sitting in that chair in that corner all the time. Although,” Barât muses, “in a few years, I might well be.”
Now that the doors to The Albion Rooms are finally open, what are his feelings about the place? “A little bit of pride and a lot of apprehension… which are generally my feelings for the band as well!” he says brightly. “But the ratio of those two does go up and down. I’m generally really happy with it. I’ve been downstairs in the bar a few times, having a drink, a bit of a conversation, and I’ve looked around. And I see people being happy, and a buzz, and I have a bit of publican pride.”
The Albion Rooms, by the way, was the name of Pete Doherty and Carl Barât’s first flat together in Camden, north London. In Libertines lore, “Albion” was “the embodiment of the band’s ideals”, something Olde Englande and amorphous and mystical and just a bit cobblers. “Then The Albion became a ship in our imagination, and its destination was Arcadia, the old classical land of infinite.”
Right. Except, actually, now, 20 years on, it makes some sense. The Albion Rooms is the incarnation of all The Libertines dreams, and very much the opposite of a druggy squat collapsing off a crumbly cliff into the sea.
“Yeah!” smiles Barât, pleased with that summation. “It has to bring something to Margate, too. And like anything, now we’ve got to look after the bastard, and sustain it – and make it pay for itself.”
The Albion Rooms, 31 Eastern Esplanade, Margate CT9 2HL, are open now. Rooms start at £114.00