Rosie’s Bar, Monte Carlo
In the mid sixties, my dad took us on holiday to Northern Italy. It’s quite possible that he’d just done a rally in Italy, they often used to determine our holidays. I’m not quite sure what his ‘system’ was but I do remember that when there was prize money involved in a rally, we’d usually go to that place for our annual holiday the next year. (Stash the loot in a local bank? Pre-pay the hotel? I’m not sure…)
On that Italian holiday, he took us one day to Monte Carlo; Monaco was only a couple of hours away by car. And yes, of course he drove us round the circuit. He left one English tourist very baffled though. We pulled up at traffic lights and the car in front had GB plates and, in its back window, a Service Garage, Barnsley sticker. Quick as a flash, my dad popped out of the car and rapped on the chap’s window. “Good morning, sir. I am the Monaco representative for Service Garage. Car going OK? Just checking. Enjoy your holiday. Thank you sir”. The chap was gobsmacked.
Then he took us to a bar on the avenue d’Ostende – right on the Grand Prix circuit. As soon as we walked in, the lady behind the bar beamed and ran to him “Eric!” she exclaimed. This was Rosie Bernard, and the bar was the Chatham, although everyone simply called it ‘Rosie’s’. “Eric, come” she said and gestured to us kids to follow as she took him to one of the walls. All the walls were covered with motorsport-related photographs and newspaper cuttings. And there was my dad. Or at least a Zephyr – one of the official rally photographs – with my dad driving. YOE 60. Oh and then I saw another – from 1958 – TND 626 and 17 SNO (“what a great number for the Monte” it says in the book)
And then, curiously for a Ford man, there was a photograph of my dad standing next to a car he entered into the rally in 1959, a Vauxhall Velox, VBM653. (If you are marveling at my amazing recall and the way I can remember these registration numbers, it’s because the photographs are in Petrol in My Blood. I cheated)
In 1969 though, Rosie’s Bar received a demolition order. Protests came from all over the world. Prince Rainier and Princess Grace (the former American film star, Grace Kelly) sympathized and the bar was saved, but only for another thirty years or so. Rosie’s Bar was demolished to create an extension of the Centre Cardio-Thoracique.
Rosie opened a souvenir shop at 21, rue Comte Felix Gastaldi. But what about all those treasures? All those photographs? I heard that the entire interior had been purchased by Bette Hill (Damon’s mother) and Tim Taylor, the son of Henry Taylor who was also at the crazy event in Cortina in Italy.
Rosie has a website and look what I found on there: