Valuable life lessons can be learned anywhere. Such as at home in your share house, learning to not drunkenly emotionally send a text message of love to your mother at 5am so that she won’t assume you’re committing suicide and won’t burst into your house and room at 6am and freak out your housemates to check you’re still alive. Or in England, learning to not while out for the third and final night with a girl you’ve recently become smitten with contradict her directions in her own home town. This is what I did, and simultaneously learned not to do, with Emma when she was directing me back to St Christopher’s Hostel from the cab rank that shall live in my personal romantic infamy forever. I questioned her direction, and flames shot from her eyes to instantly silence me. In a move that saved her from missing her New York-London flight, I had justifiably corrected her orientation. But Manhattan was neutral territory for us both and I should have known better than to do it that night in Brighton. Despite being alone and under the influence of a vindictive jet lagged sleep pattern which had me awake all night and asleep all day, I still felt at peace and as I mentioned upon arrival also at home. At some point I read a good old-fashioned print article in the music-themed The Brighton Source about a band named Kins that was coincidentally from Brighton, near Melbourne, Australia. Without forcing the entire article on you, guitar and keyboardist Jackie said of the band’s visit to Brighton (England) that after the group landed in Heathrow they stayed in London for a month which “didn’t quite click with us. Didn’t feel like home, or didn’t feel comfortable. We came to Brighton for a day trip, got off the train and straight away we were like, ‘This is home.’” Which of course I could relate to and not so seamlessly brings us to the present – sitting until 3am downstairs within my hostel sipping mulled wine and attending to this journal. I had some interesting conversations in the smoking area. Which is bizarre. Not the conversations. Not yet, because I haven’t mentioned any yet. I mean the smoking area, which was really just out the front of the building. So it’s odd I would call it an “area”, but hey, I was a little strung out from sleep deprivation and at least sub-conscious anticipation of rejection. One guy while smoking said he thought it was “crazy” that I was in Brighton, when I was from the other side of the world. And he even went on propose that in an alternative universe we could have been friends or brothers. Well, of course. In an alternative universe we could be lovers, or he could be my dad. Or we could all be giant land fish who communicate through multi-coloured light that emits from our gills. Or, I could have retained Emma’s interest. Another guy at about closing time was so drunk he couldn’t string a single complete sentence together. Even when I would accurately, I deduced from his facial expressions, predict the rest of a sentence he would still try but fail to complete it. Though I was still being respectful of him because, hey: I once after a mate’s 21st birthday at Tallebudgera on the Gold Coast was so drunk on the bus ride home that I apparently spoke complete gibberish to his sister during the trip. Then I puked up Chiko Roll into an esky while unconscious on the birthday boy’s parents’ couch – and him and his brother-in-law sat across the room watching me and eating their own Chikos. So hypocrisy avoidance aside, this slurring south-Englishman eventually told me he felt embarrassed and wished for me to ridicule him. Reckoned he was angling for a fight, so I didn’t oblige him by escaping from this madness back inside when his mate stole his attention. Tried to sleep after a glass of shiraz to top off the night but failed, again. So got out of bed at 5am and sat in the hallway outside my room, reading and charging my phone. Again.
Breakfast began at 8am. Excellent. Brighton was forbiddingly cold, windy and rainy this morning. Which meant on top of zero sleep my decision to bike to the Devil’s Dyke – a valley-type area several kilometres north of town – was all the more preposterous. The dyke was so-named not after a Brighton lesbian bar but because the area in which it existed had apparently many thousands of years ago been flooded by Lucifer himself in order to purge the area of its sinners. Though why Satan would wish to punish his sinful slaves for doing exactly what he desired is beyond me. The weather looked like clearing but I felt 100 years old due to sleep dep and this inspired a pessimism which quickly had me back in bed until 3pm. I was struggling valiantly to slay the jet lag dragon, you see, by staying awake all day despite having been awake all night. Of course sleep patterns cannot be turned around within 24 hours. The silver lining was that Brighton is internationally famed for its music and nightlife. But again, when you wake in the late afternoon from going to sleep in mid-afternoon, sitting at a bar at 9pm or midnight actually feels like you’re doing the same thing at 9am or noon – even though it’s unarguably dark. It was a messed up situation, but at least I was drinking less because everyone else’s party evenings were my mornings. After waking at 3pm and getting my shit together, I kind of ironically considering my condition tried to call British Airways and have them push my flight out of London back from sometime in the next few days to December 29. This was not obviously because I was planning on eloping with Emma, but because I wanted time to spend in London, Dublin and Edinburgh – in that order. And I needed to geographically push the flight back from Heathrow to LA, not to NY. And that was because with the time difference I would still despite the 14 hour or something flight land in the City of Angels on the same day, but my flight from California home to Australia was set in stone I would not break a few days later on the first day of 2013. It was going to cost a few extra hundred to make the change but, fuck, I’m surprised someone isn’t charging me for scratching my own mosquito bites, these days. Plus something inside me – possibly the alcoholic – yearned for Ireland and Scotland. The first payphone didn’t have a receiver. And all I achieved at the next one which didn’t work was informing the operator of the fact that it didn’t work and resisting the temptation to suggest that people at her company didn’t either. Returned to the hostel, had an early dinner and slept until the strangest wake up time: 10.30pm. For whatever reason it’s not detailed in my notes but I should state by this point I’d already been firmly rejected by Emma. The day after the night I spent with her and her friends at the pub and club, her Facebook messages became ever more full of exclamation points until she admitted she didn’t wish to see me again. It was ok though: 11pm in Brighton, one of the most famous night spots in the world, I’d just woken up and was ready without distraction to focus on one of my more predictable if perhaps less overall enjoyable passions: music. But first I had to figure out exactly where to go, after escaping from the hostel which pumped nothing but dance tunes all night every night.