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Mike Chapple at the bar... The Nook, Nelson Street, Liverpool City Centre.

AS SID James might have said with his trademark dirty guffaw you can't beat a bit of Nookie.

Lady Penelope of Pensby was introduced to some this week and the Pub Column has to say she thoroughly enjoyed herself.

Now before you get the wrong idea, let me clarify the experience related to her inaugural visit to The Nook, one of Liverpool's most intriguing pubs. Curled up in Chinatown, during the city's maritime heyday it would serve as a place for seafarers to spend all their wages on getting merry and later, er, on a bit of real nookie courtesy of the ladies of the night.

Since 1940, it's also been known as the Chinese Local, a plaque attesting to the fact being pinned to its Nelson Street frontage. However, anyone who has read the fandabbydozee book The Great Liverpool Pub Crawl will already know this. They will also know that on my last visit to The Nook last winter, it looked more like an abandoned bomb shelter. Nonetheless, it was a loveable place full of character and characters.

But there was definitely a feeling of a sleeping giant waiting to yawn and wake up to exploiting fully the potential for attracting more passing trade given the wealth of quality Chinese restaurants surrounding it.

Now, it appears, that process has begun. The people who previously ran the pub have moved on and a major overhaul has taken place starting with the dilapidated exterior now painted a combination of cream and maroon with a new banner name board.

"We were going to do it in Chinese but there's no equivalent word for 'nook'," laughs Jeanette Murray, the new Lady of The Nook since July.

Jeanette is a veteran of mine, hostessing at other pubs but as a local lass who sneaked her first drink here - a lager and black, aged 15 (you bad girl!) - she feels she's come home to roost.

Sadly, the Liverpool FC mementoes, the portrait of The Nook's most famous landlady the feisty Mrs Jones and assorted Chinese bric-a-brac of dragons and lions, all went with the previous tenants. The gigantic global map showing the old shipping trade routes of yore has also gone, crumbling to bits during the renovation. But the new broom has brought many bonuses - new ladies toilets, a newly-laid wooden floor to replace the yucky sticky carpets in the spacious back room, a badly needed wallpapering job and two wonderful snugs, sneaked in behind the bar. This is where Lady P and Yours Truly supped draught Becks as a lively, friendly pack of locals traded banter with Jeanette and her sidekick Maureen.

"This is getting back to becoming the community pub it should be," said Jeanette, who has introduced a number of innovations including a weekly ladies night with bingo and a Chinese buffet provided by the New Capital restaurant next door.

They actually own The Nook which has proved to be a perfect marriage of convenience with both establishments recommending the other to punters.

It was an invitation we duly took up to revel in what became the best food and drink teatime combo we've had for some time.

A lovely bit of Nookie, in fact.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Nov 22, 2008
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