Oblivious to modern life’s rapid consumer demand, my Nan would’ve swooned at the fact making sandwiches was big business; “make yer own bleedin’ butty you lazy so-and-so!”
But it is so; watch workers on dumpy lunchbreaks sprint to the closet supermarket shelves and sweep up those wasteful plastic triangles, despite knowing the centre of the sandwich inside is threadbare compared to what you see bulging from the visible cut-end.
That’s where the personal touch of the deli reigns; those gorgeous shacks with girls cutting, slicing and preparing your designer sarnie. You know it’s fresh, yummy and it’s going to actually fill you up. Bob does this with great success in Marlborough with his Food Gallery, and you know in Devizes, it’s Jack Spratt all the way.
But Jack Spratt has come along way from its humble sandwich creations, it’s been in the Market Place for some years now, where sadly that emporium of antique curiosities once was. Loitering in a doorway Saturday evening I recalled rummaging for old Beano annuals in one of those rooms, now it’s a spritely rustic bar. Oh well, Minnie Minx and Dennis the Menace aside, I’m getting a bottle of organic cider.
There’s an aura of debonair about the place, but far from snobby, more cosy. Upstairs at Jacks is now chic café, with irresistible aromas submissively assaulting my nostrils as waitresses kindly excuse themselves for hurrying by with plated bar snacks of delicious aesthetics; chunky wedges, bites and tapas served with copious dripping sauces and, and, oh I can’t go on, they looked so good. Just like Jack and wife, I could’ve licked the platter clean!
But I’d had my tucker; I was there, for live music was afoot. Squeezing in the doorway then, while customers actually eating took the tables (the cheek of it!) I talked with employee Bryony Cox, who was there to sing rather than work. She told me this was the first night of live music here, and for it they spared no effort; for as well as her and Hayley, they’d booked Calne’s brilliant Jack Moore and none other than George Wilding.
I wondered if she’d booked some overtime for this, as she certainly gave it a hundred percent. After Jack done his thing, Bryony was on keys while singing wonderfully with Hayley, accompanied by George on guitar.
The evening’s finale was naturally attributed to George Wilding, who with grace, charm and certain ease, took the punters off on his impeccable musical expeditions. Breezing through his own tunes, “Tchaikovsky On The Tambourine” its peak, George made Green Day’s “Time of your Life,” his own, then inquired his spellbound audience for ideas.
“Stereophonics,” was the first request but George shrugged in his shy manner, confessing he hadn’t a complete Stereophonic song under his belt. He strummed once, gave it some thought and offered to compromise with a medley of the bits he did know. For anyone else this could’ve gone wonky, but have faith; George Wilding is something else and knocked out a stunning medley landing effortlessly on Handbags and Gladrags, which I could argue is Rod the Mod’s originally, but at this point of George’s performance, you’d be beyond caring.
For a first night of live music, it put Upstairs at Jacks on the venue map of Devizes, save it’s not too spacious, still it’s tranquil, luxuriously overlooking the Market Square with homely décor, cosy fireplace, grand mirrors and an obvious appreciation of Gauguin; could we not knock a wall through and make it slightly larger Mr Spratt?!