That got your attention didn’t it? Yes, I’ve been to Brighton, the destination beloved by fictional, cliched adulterers. I went with my husband, and although the temptation to sign in as Mr and Mrs Smith was large, we decided to be ourselves.
I’ve never been to Brighton, so it was a bit of a revelation to me. I was astonished by its changing moods over twenty-four hours during a weekend. We arrived at lunchtime on Saturday, and found ourselves in the middle of a busy shopping city. The weather was vile. It was very cold, very windy, and neither of these things should have been a surprise in early February. We “strolled” along the seafront, and “sauntered” down the pier, and the wind stung like a slap from a cross mother. I hadn’t realised there was a “Brighton Eye”, but it was so windy that we gave it a miss.
The main reason I’d wanted to go to Brighton was to visit the Royal Pavilion, and it didn’t disappoint. The place was spectacular, and although there wasn’t a single inch of it that was to my taste, it was quite breathtaking in the level of detail and craftsmanship. It obviously attracted tourists from all over the world, and with good reason. It cost £10.50 each to get in, and I didn’t resent a single penny. Heartily recommended, if you like history, and if you can cope with flamboyant dragons.
The Lanes were good fun to wander about in, although I wasn’t in the market for any jewellery, and on the whole, if it wasn’t a cafe/restaurant/bar, it was a jewellers. But as it got dark, they felt more sinister – more like a part of Georgian Brighton that respectable people would have avoided. Don’t get me wrong, on a Saturday afternoon, among the tourists, I felt perfectly safe there.
It was later that another side of Brighton came out to play. We went for a drink before dinner, and the pubs were packed out, even on a horrid Saturday night (it was mostly raining, except when it hailed). Dirty weather. There seemed to be broadly two categories of people out and about. The first was of couples or small groups of friends, who were out for dinner and chat. They (we!) were of a certain age or more. The second category was more intimidating, certainly as the evening went on. This category consisted the groups of people in their late teens/early twenties, hell bent on getting as pissed as possible as cheaply and as fast as possible. We’d contemplated going for a post dinner drink, but between the weather and the latter category, we adjourned back to our hotel.
Now, I like a drink or two as much as the next woman, and I’m very happy to work my way through fairly unrespectable quantities over the course of an evening. But I’ve never gone out with the sole intent of getting wasted. Gone out for several drinks with friends, and arranged life so I don’t have to drive, yes. Gone out for several drinks with friends and ended up having several more, yes. But to hear these kids planning their drinking like a military operation was a bit of an eyeopener to this nicely brought up girl. For one thing, I couldn’t afford that amount of booze! The thing that will stay with me from that part of Brighton’s life was the noise – shouts, screams, laughter, music, and the odd overheard snatch of conversation, comprising slurred talk of love or lack of it. The noise finally subsided at about 4am, as the last stragglers groped their way back to the right room on the right floor.
Earlyish the following day, Brighton was hungover. Breakfast challenged people white faced and subdued, there was a strong smell of the morning after the night before, and out on the streets, the cleaners were busy obliterating the signs of the previous night and rendering Brighton sparkly again. By late morning, the shoppers were back, and the place looked as though butter wouldn’t melt in its mouth.
I liked Brighton, by day. I liked it as a tourist, I liked it as a shopper. I liked Brighton by night, as a place of many small eating places. I wasn’t too keen on the mass drinking, but I’d like to think I’ll go back again. Just not in high season.