A street-press gig-guide presented four promising venues to visit during my musical night out in fair Brighton: The Verdict was playing jazz but closed by the time I got there – damn; Mesmerist was playing jazz and blues but via a DJ – damn; Digital was playing indie rock, but again via a DJ, not a band – double damn; and finally the Funky Fish which was apparently hosting jazz and retro music but looked when I got there like a gay club and was indeed on the gay side of town – not that there’s any damn thing wrong with that, of course. I was willing to at least give the Fish’s music a go, but a lesbian in front of me was taking forever to simply pay her cover charge, so I left. Considering the amount of preparation and legwork I’d put in – not to mention Brighton’s musical reputation on its own – it was a very disappointing night. (Disappointment exacerbated as I write by listening to the album Backatown by Trombone Shorty from New Orleans.) One of the night’s highlights was actually when I got a photo of a couple of Bobbies, otherwise known as those traditional British police with the nipple-topped hats. The pair was keeping an early morning watch over a nightclub across the road when I came along to ask them, “respectfully”, if I could take a photo of them. Another highlight: while waiting at Mesmerist’s bar for a gin and tonic some chick asked a dude to guess her name. He wasn’t even close. I internally guessed Anne. She said Annie. I should have said something. And I remember while waiting in line at Digital meeting some people who loved Australia and were simply perplexed by my presence there, so far away from home. I tirelessly enjoyed spreading my non-bogan Aussie existence. Earlier that night, I’m pretty sure, but really have no idea due to the disorienting nature of the sleep deprivation I was enduring and the lack of dates sprinkled throughout my notes. Earlier that night I ice skated, alone, beneath the aforementioned Indian palace. I used an appropriately large word (phantasmagorical) to describe my initial appreciation of it, and little had changed. Mist rising from skaters’ breath was magically illuminated by purple and blue lights creating a dreamlike atmosphere. From memory, the music played to the skaters was terrible, though. And the abilities of most of them were comical. You’d expect people from an almost year-round cold climate to be skilled skaters. But they were holding onto the edges, barely staying on their feet as they slid like snails anti-clockwise around the rink and falling all over the place and often in front of me as I endeavoured to find space to get up to an enjoyable speed. I dunno. Maybe a lot of them were tourists from the middle-east. The only thing that was missing, other than a little more skill from those I was enjoying it with, was, of course, Emma.
The night didn’t end after my largely unsuccessful search for good music, due to my troublesome sleeping pattern. I read my book at the hostel until about 4.30am after which I journeyed down the esplanade for some very shitty fish and chips. There were mushy peas, which I desired, on the menu but this morning they were for some reason “not on”. Chicken salt, on the other hand, is something not done anywhere on English fish and chips. The horror! Speaking of horror: I was glad I wasn’t drinking much because while soberly hungry I couldn’t help but notice that others, mostly younger than me, at that fish and chippery looked pretty much like zombies due to their alcohol consumption and the fact they probably rarely went outdoors during daylight hours. At that hour of the morning, Brighton’s esplanade appeared a giant trough from which nocturnal alcoholic pigs were slurping whatever slops they could get their snouts into. I slept from 6 until 10am and – tired as fuck – had to check out of my room but couldn’t check in to a new room until 2pm. I believe the only reason I hadn’t left Brighton by now was because I still hadn’t biked out to the Devil’s Dyke. I yearned for the English countryside. Particularly wanted to see those cool little stone fences most of their farms have, according to their movies and TV shows. So after hitting a bike shop on the gay side of town east of Old Steine that didn’t do hires, I headed up Queen’s Road to one near the train station that did. Before biking I at The Railway Bell pub enjoyed a beef pie with gravy, peas and mashed potato but had to resort to the nectar of the bogans – Red Bull – instead of coffee – which they didn’t have any of for some reason. Once I’d finished my meal I lounged outside the pub to enjoy a Marlboro and finish my Red Bull. Suddenly, an older man named Des sat down in front of me with five shots of sambuca, that licorice flavoured liqueur, and a pint of stout. This was at lunchtime on a weekday. He encouraged me to down three of the shots and talked to me about how he’d apparently recently blown a considerable amount of money on travelling. Said to me something to the effect that “we’re both Celtic and desire to wander”. And that his only friends were Gypsies. I believe he was homosexual – not that there’s anything wrong with that. His parting words were for me to not suffer fools – as he’d described himself. But could a fool possibly genuinely offer such advice? I’m not sure. Regardless, once I’d escaped Des, I’d decided while running on no sleep and too much midday alcohol neither to bike (exhausted/drunk) or bus (I’d fall asleep) it to Devil’s Dyke. No, instead I decided to still hire a bike but instead ride it east along Marine Parade to at least the Brighton Marina Village and back.