thursday: DIVE OFF THE PIER

(see below for previous two installments of my Brighton local travel diary sort of a thing)

Brighton Pier

thanks to Patrick for the photo

Thursday, Thursday… even less ready for life on Thursday morning. But Thursday is the last day and there is a helluva lot remains to be done. By now I must confess the events of these three days are muddled indeed: there are a couple of bookshops I want to say we looked in on Thursday but I’m suspicious we actually saw them Wednesday; well, for form’s sake (Tuesday was poetry, Wednesday was pubs and jazz – what can be said of Thursday if not shopping?) let me now pretend that all shopping occurred on Thursday.

One thing to be said of Brighton is that it does well for a selection of independent books and music shops, whether you like the new (Sandpiper Books, Resident and Ape for music) or prefer to find second hand/antiquarian (and there are far too many to mention, even if I could remember their names). The best place to find them is in the North Laine area, where you’ve got the likes of Brighton Books which has some wonderful Hermann Hesse first UK editions I particularly want but can’t have (The Glass Bead Game is priced at £90). I’ve also found a nice first UK edition of A Spy in the House of Love by Anaïs Nin and they have books which can be hard to find elsewhere.

Other great shops whose names I actually remember include Snooper’s Paradise – which is the biggest, best junk-antique shop I know of in these parts, and has a small but excellent selection of books, and is worth (and would certainly take) a few hours of your time to  explore. There’s Colin Page which is hidden somewhere around the Lanes, the most beautiful bookshop in Brighters, old and dusty like it should be, specialising in antiquarian and collectors’ books. It has a spiral staircase going down into the basement. There’s also an Oxfam bookstore (online reviews praise it but I think it’s overrated) and on Trafalgar Street a record shop which I think is called the Wax Factor – not only does it have a huge selection of vinyl, but a lot of books as well. There are also a couple of comic/graphic novel shops. From Dave’s Comics I picked up a signed copy of Kiki de Montparnasse by Catel & Bocquet, and one book I’d never heard of (graphic novels are mostly unfamiliar territory for me) called Night Animals by Brecht Evans, which is all lovely and dark. There’s Sandpiper and Amnesty which I’ve already mentioned, and so many bookshops I’ve not even been in yet.

While looking around the shops I was aware all the time of the lovely prosecco in my bag getting all warm so we made for the beach to drink it. This turned out to be more difficult than expected (some business with a cork) but once we’d got the bottle open – well, a bloody good idea. Next time I’ve got to remember to take two bottles, and you should too. We left the beach, ate chips, were briefly caught up in a student protest on our way to the pier and we stood around a while as cars at the traffic lights beeped their horns in support. Protests make you feel pretty positive: solidarity and all that.

You really have got to love the pier. Brilliant 70’s music, arcades (dens of light gambling, tacky carpets, 2p machines, really terrible prizes &c…), funfair rides and free-to-use deckchairs. Not to mention the snacks available. The aforementioned candyfloss was as big as my head and eaten rather slowly in a deckchair (kind of regretted buying it, only did it because I thought I ought to). From deckchairs we watched an overfed boozy too-old-for-this-really kind of a lad jump off the pier which he must have regretted just about immediately – the water is bloody freezing – and he began the long swim back to shore. I won’t lie: on a hot sunny day, despite everything, I’m pretty sure I could sit in one of those deckchairs on the pier until I’m red.

We didn’t go to any vegan restaurants, and I’m pretty desperate to try a vegan hot dog at Woo Kika Moo Kau so this was a disappointment, but after the pier it was getting late and we walked quickly past the pavilion, drank at a pub or two and returned home. Leaving the house after all this was pretty difficult but we had read in the Argus of a Gypsy-swing band playing at the Hobgoblin. Unfortunately we never did find out what Gypsy-swing is, as three members of the eight or nine-piece band were sick.

A couple of pubs later we set off to find ‘Brighton clubbing ’s spiritual home of block rocking Soul, Funk, Motown, Jazz, Old School Breaks & Hip Hop, and all things funky and quirky from the 60’s to the 00’s’ at the Funky Fish. Patrick the king of research informed me that the club is open 24/7/365 but this was clearly a horrible lie as it was quite definitely closed Thursday night – but we weren’t so disappointed since we had already seen some pictures of the kind of people who attend the Funky Fish club. Not saying anything. We headed back to the Green Door Store. Like I said – it’s a good club; free to get in, and we had a fun time. I don’t remember what the theme of the night was; a band played who I seem to remember being pretty good, and after the band was a DJ set – and they played Rebecca Black’s impossibly inane insanely awesome Friday. This song actually features the lines, ‘Yesterday was Thursday/today it is Friday … Tomorrow is Saturday/and Sunday comes afterwards.’ Educational.

Midweek was over, Friday really came; Lance and Patrick left and I did a whole lot of sleeping. So that’s it – but to be continued, vegan hot dogs and all, the next time someone comes to visit me (I’m printing itineraries tomorrow).

SEE: http://www.facebook.com/#!/greendoorstore
http://www.uniquebrighton.com

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