(see below for the first installment of my Brighton local travel diary)
Then Wednesday came a little groggy. But breakfast, coffee, gitanes on the wooden pallets that pass for decking in my back garden, there in the burning morning sun and I was burning to go to the sea. We walked down into town with only a couple of stops down North Laine to look in the Amnesty Bookshop, and I bought two books from Sandpiper Books, which is an excellent bookshop for art, film; culturey sort of books (I bought Generation of Swine by Hunter S. Thompson and Notes of a Dirty Old Man by Bukowski). They have new books at very cut prices, so I bought my first new books in a very long time.
To the sea. But although the sun was hotter, the wind was stronger also and it was not quite hot enough, and when the guitar-playing 28p-scrounging juice-drinking fellow from yesterday turned up just behind us it was like a sign to get the hell out of there.
Over the course of the three days we went to quite a few pubs, and I don’t exactly remember in what order so I’m just going to list them all together:
The Victory, near the Lanes. This was my favourite, clean, fresh, and lovely, with art deco windows, a model ship and a green interior. Food was good.
The Dorset, in the North Laine area, felt continental although I’ve not been on the continent since I was about twelve, and then probably only Calais, so what do I know!? They seemed to sell a lot of Kronenbourg and not a lot else on tap as far as I remember.
The White Rabbit, North Laine again. I liked this place a lot. There is a cigarette machine in a red telephone box, and this made me very happy. I like to see cigarette machines in pubs and bars; it makes me feel warm inside. On the other hand, seeing them reminds me of the days you could still buy cigarettes from the bar and I don’t think you can do this any more, which is sad. I could say a lot more about the way this country is going re smoking, but it seems like good material for another post so I’ll save it.
The Hand and Spear, opposite the Victory. We were attracted by the green tiled front. I had a g&t and felt like I could have slept forever on the tables outside, with a gauloise. Inside is small, kind of an old-man type of pub, but I liked it for this. We heard Geno by Dexy’s Midnight Runners twice.
The Cricketers, somewhere in town. A large, studenty pub, it wasn’t great.
The Hobgoblin, near London Road. I really like this pub, its dark candlelit interior, it has a good atmosphere although the beer ‘garden’ doesn’t much live up to its advertising. Practical, large, functional – sure; but maybe they could get some plants.
That’s the list, as I remember it.
We went back to the house to freshen up, eat a little; I saw that there was a jazz night at the Green Door Store so we went out to that at eleven or so, stopping at a couple of pubs along the way. Running through town at night is a really good thing to do (thanks Paddy for making us do that); refreshing after a day of sun and gin. We found a table and Patrick talked to an old jazz savant. As with Hi Zero there was a very sound atmosphere in the place, it was busy, it seemed to be in a pretty good mood. I think the band playing were Monica Acevedo/Diego Parada Quartet. Seeing a good jazz band in the right place is fun. Jazz is another thing I know absolutely nothing about, but what I’ve found is that you get into the music a lot; it’s all about the music. And you get to applaud a lot too, and I do so like to applaud. The Green Door Store is also a really excellent venue; my favourite club in Brighton at the moment for sure. It reminds me a lot of Cardiff Barfly before its untimely demise (not long after I left Cardiff. Coincidence?).
The jazz was great, and late-night jazz feels especially proper (the night ran from 11-2am). The only other time I’ve been to see some jazz was a middle-class, middle-aged marquee affair at the Edinburgh festival, with overpriced barbeque food, overpriced alcohol and overpriced tickets. This event was free and way more authentic. I will be going back whenever I can.
tomorrow: Brighton bookshops and the pier