Saturday, 16 July 2011

'Belated Brighton blog - Mark Watson & North Laines' - Monday, 29 October 2007 at 01:32

Back when I used to write about things in very...minute...detail... I possibly still do this...
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I thought I’d written this blog already. In fact I would’ve sworn to it. That is, until I opened my diary the other day, and realised all I’d done was write about it in there. So this is basically a copy of a diary entry from last Sunday, with a few bits added or taken out.

The day did not start out as planned. When I originally booked the tickets in August, I figured I’d be going with a friend of mine who lives in Brighton. I didn’t think I needed to check beforehand – who wouldn’t want to go see Mark Watson? Turned out, much as she’d have liked to, she couldn’t – she was in London for the weekend. Then my sister said she’d go. Then, when it turned out we’d have to stay the night, she couldn’t either. A friend over from Belfast. No. Friends from work. No. A friend who’s recently moved back down South after studying forever in Hull. Almost – so very nearly – but then he ended up going for a Hindu festival in Swansea instead. Solo it was, then.
Then a last minute possibility – friend from Kent whose boyfriend was invited to a party in Brighton that night. We planned to go to Brighton for the day, see the show, stay over, and part ways in the morning. Then I had to cancel – the day bit at least, as I found out I was being ‘introduced’ to someone, in the latest in a fairly mind-numbing, soul-destroying string of meetings arranged by well-meaning family friends from our mosque, who worry that I’m running out of time and need to be married off asap (advice from one ‘aunty’ the other week: “Make sure you dress nicely when you go out at the weekends; (indicating what I had on) you can dress like this when you get older”. Thanks). I didn’t anticipate a click. There was none. The time really would’ve been better spent wandering the Laines, eating ice-cream and just generally being beside the seaside. Ah well.

I got to Brighton at about 8pm – Just enough time to check in to my...lovely hotel, the Cosmopolitan. It wasn’t the greatest in terms of décor, but the staff were friendly, the breakfast turned out to be really nice, and it was close to the seafront and the town centre.

On my way to the Corn Exchange, I realised maybe it would have been a good idea to print off the Brighton map I’d been looking up during the week, rather than assuming for some reason I’d suddenly develop an eidetic memory and just remember where everything was. Luckily it wasn’t too bad to find – the theatre lights were a good clue; also, I decided everyone going anywhere would be going to the show, so I could just follow them, which I did, and somehow, it worked.

Walking up Church Street, I saw someone leaning out of a pub door who looked very familiar, even just from the back (thin body, big, curly hair). It turned out to be Simon Amstell (of course – ‘thin body, big, curly hair’ is actually the dictionary definition of Simon Amstell. Him, and Mika). He was calling up the road to a couple, who, on closer inspection, turned out to be Emily and Mark Watson. I managed a quick ‘hi’ to Mark, before he had to rush off (he said something about having to get ready for some show he was doing that night), and I headed into the theatre.

I sat in the auditorium, listening to the pre-show music, that all sounded vaguely Weezer-like, but not quite. As the hall filled up, I started people-watching, which is always a good way to pass random minutes. There were some people looking really unamused; but then I guess, given that the show hadn’t yet started, I’d have been a bit more worried if they’d been sat there, chuckling to themselves. I felt sorry for a couple who’d ensconced themselves in seats in the second row (I was in the third), only to be told their tickets were ‘B’, not ‘BB’, which basically meant they were in the tiered stalls in the back half of the hall, rather than right at the front in the flat ones. Thank Active-X I installed the seat-planner-software-thingy when I booked my tickets, so I knew exactly where I was sitting. I guess if I’d wanted to confuse them even further, I could’ve offered one of them my spare ticket – ooh, the painful choice that would have been: great view vs. partner… I spared them that pain, and just spread my stuff out a little more.

The music stopped, and suddenly some Welsh guy was yelling something about checking out the hall’s atmosphere. It turned out to be Mark, brandishing a bottle of something or other, and yelling cos he had no mic. Only problem – he was way back behind, rather than on stage – right in front of the tiered stalls, in fact. I bet that couple stopped feeling quite so gutted about having to move.

So the show started, with Mark chatting to us from the floor a while, before hiding behind a curtain to announce himself, and run up on to stage (it was very effective – who needs backstage when you can just pretend? Much more fun, I reckon!).

I tried to get a surreptitious pic of Mark just after he got on stage – I figured I’d snap him before he started moving about a lot. I thought I’d been very subtle, turning off the display screen of my camera, no flash etc. I kind of forgot about the bright red AF-assist beam that probably blinds the person you’re taking a picture of. Next thing I know, I’ve got Mark peering down at me, asking if I just took a picture.
“I haven’t even done anything yet. I’ll pose as if I’m about to do something really funny”,
which he obligingly did, but I was laughing too hard to hold the camera straight, so what should have been a golden opportunity to get a cool photo turned into the blurred mess you can find in my photos. (Hannah – how do you get such damn excellent photos?!).

After the show, I considered hanging about to get a non-blurry photo, but wasn’t quite sure exactly where to hang, and also was a little freaked about walking back by myself at that time of night – I’m fine walking through Brixton at midnight, but become a total wuss in places I don’t know.

Turns out I needn’t have worried – the streets were pretty much alive and buzzing, and I felt safe all the way back to the Cosmopolitan.

I got in, and ended up watching ’Things To Do in Denver When You’re Dead’ – hmmm, Steve Buscemi definitely got the coolest role, though Christopher Walken’s was probably a close second. A friend once told me that Christopher Walken dances in every single movie that he’s in – does anyone know if that’s true? Cos I’m thinking I don’t remember him dancing in ‘True Romance’ or ‘Pulp Fiction’. Anyways...

Following morning, I bussed it up to the station (not very CATE, seeing as it was about a 15 minute walk, but I had loads to carry, and was wearing my cool-but-impractical boots). Turns out I had an hour before my train, so I lugged my stuff and myself back out of the station, to see what I could see. A bit down the hill, I discovered North Laine, and quickly decided that Brighton was added to my ‘cool places I must visit again soon!’ list. The Laines are full of boutiquey type shops and funky cafés and stuff, nearly all with the coolest shop-fronts and/or contents (have a look at my photos from Brighton).

My weekend ended on a total high, complete opposite mood to Saturday a.m. (poor guy). My sister and I cycled down to The Tenth Hole (amazingly good café at the mini-golf thing in Southsea, quite near the sea-front). They do incredibly irresistible cakes, and give you massive chunks that could probably feed a family of five for a week – my sister and I actually each house families of five inside, so we managed ok.
On the way there and back, we played the intros game from ‘Never Mind The Buzzcocks’. Try this next time you’re cycling anywhere with someone – it’s unfailingly funny and hugely entertaining. A bit like Mark Watson.

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