By Felicity Reid:
Sandy (Ivan Pratt) died on the morning of April 17, aged eighty. He had wanted to go for some time and during the last period, thankfully, he was not really aware. He was a proud and elegant man and would have hated the indignities of decline.
He was an Irishman, Anglo-Irish, and is survived by two brothers and a sister.
He had studied law at Trinity but found it tedious, so switched to hotel management. He worked at the “Fenix” in Madrid and then transfered to the “Manilla” in Barcelona. In the summer of 1958, he and a Spanish friend accepted the invitation of a friend in Ibiza. They fell in love with the island and decided to open a bar in Santa Eulalia. They rented half of a traditional Ibicenco house on the corner above the main (unpaved street, They made a long black bar and shelves for bottles and furnished it with a few tables and cushioned chairs, put in proper toilets (not Arab squats or holes in the ground) a telephone (one of the first in Santa Eulalia), lighting, fans and a working fireplace, and made a garden at the back. In August they opened.
Sandy lived upstairs and, after his friend left, ran it alone. The hours were long: mid-day till three or four then open again at seven or eight sometimes until four in the morning. Loading and unloading crates of bottles is hard physical work, washing and polishing dozens of glasses by hand is time- consuming. The bar was always spotlessly clean, the cushions plumped, the spider webs controlled. By the middle 60’s, Sandy’s Bar, officially the “Black Horse,” ranked with famous bars of the world: Harry’s in Venice, Shepherds in Cairo, Raffles in Singapore. Smart people all over the world would say “Ah,yes “Sandy’s” somewhere in Spain?”
Sandy loved people but he liked his friends to be intelligent, informed, mannerly, witty and preferably pretty: we used to dress up to go to Sandy’s in the evening. This was the time of Franco in Spain, currency restrictions in Britain, war in the Congo, problems in the French colonies, a divided Germany, fear of nuclear war etc. etc. So there were ex-colonials of many nations fleeing to a place that was peaceful, with a good climate, cheap but unspoiled. There were many North Americans because the dollars from publishers, galleries, fellowships and grants went further. In the summer, you never knew what famous, rich and beautiful people you might run into. Deportment in the bar was civilized, voices modulated.
He did not like dogs in the bar and made accurate use of a soda syphon. Children were not welcomed. Most residents ran a tab because they were always waiting for money and the postal and bank system was erratic. Everyone paid for themselves and to invite or accept a drink was for some special occasion: rounds were not favored. He controlled the scene with music (records, of course) even monks singing plain chant on a particularly rambunctious evening. We picked up our mail there and made our phone calls from there.
They were difficult times in Spain. Sandy was unstinting in his help for anyone who asked: he acted as legal advisor, father confessor, monitor, referee and friend-in-need to hundreds, perhaps thousands of people. And in return he was loved and respected.That ideally is the role of a bartender – or a priest!, or a saint ! In later years as the tourists poured in and the pretty village turned into an ugly, noisy small town, Sandy moved into a series of houses in the country always creating a beautiful garden and finally let go of the bar and devoted himself to garden design.
Why did Sandy’s Bar become so famous? Initially, it was because Howard Sackler (who later wrote the scripts for both “Jaws”) had developed the recording and preservation on cassette of the spoken word, specifically of the great classics of English literature. He liked water ski-ing and came to live in Ibiza. All actors have “resting periods” (out-of work). If you have a good voice, you can earn serious and relatively easy money!. Actors are happiest at play with each other. So given a bar in the sun where there were other actors and a knowledgeable and appreciative community, and the possibility of picking up paying work. Let’s go.!
It would not have worked without Sandy, but with him and he was moderately star-struck; (actors need affirmation) it happened The most famous of English-speaking performing artists passed through Ibiza – and the dancers and musicians followed. And the press followed them! And the island became fashionable and later it became notorious. And even so, it is still beautiful and neither Sandy (nor I ) could think of living anywhere else.
Sandy will be remembered by many people, But Sandy’s Bar under other owners has just been another bar. But this is another era!
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