There’s still a black-hearted, romantic side to Brighton; a dark element to the place that can’t be dispelled by the hordes who descend in the summer.
Turning My Heartbeat Up by
Night Owl by Gerry Rafferty
The Cheescake Song by King Missile
Ah, Brighton. The belle of the South Coast, all Regency flourishes and decadence. Even with its turquoise lampposts, city status, horrible hen parties, cheapo chains and tacky tea rooms, there’s still a black-hearted, romantic side to Brighton; a dark element to the place that can’t be dispelled by the hordes who descend in the summer, frolicking on the beach, trying their luck on the slots, eating fried food while seagulls look enviously on.
Graham Greene said it best in his hard-bitten novel, Brighton Rock: ‘this sun, the music, the rattle of the miniature cars, the ghost train diving between the grinning skeletons under the Aquarium promenade, the sticks of Brighton rock, the paper sailors' caps.’ Brighton isn’t just the pier, the prom, the sea: it’s a place where you wash up at the end of the week, flotsam circling the wide streets and gaudy shops while you search for something else, something different, something better.
Life is always better by the sea. Here’s what we enjoyed the last time we were in Brighton: a windy September day where we walked along the beach, watched kids playing in chilly sandpits and listened to a band playing bad Duffy covers in a bar while patrons tapped their feet and drank pints: no matter how hard you try to be cynical about Brighton, it’s got a pull and a tug that seems to always hold on to your heart.
The Record Album: Brighton’s oldest and some say, best vinyl shop is still going strong. Opened in 1948, it specialises in soundtracks but you can get some gorgeous rare vinyl here, all lovingly curated by its owner and staff.
Idle Hands: Quirky bar with plenty of character, serving up a fantastic choice of ciders and ales. Lots of live music and good food make this a fun place to hit on your way back to Brighton station.
Earth & Stars: Cosy, rustic veggie and vegan friendly pub, with a great menu and lovely staff. Perfectly placed on the edge of the North Laine as well.
Goemon Ramen Bar: Crammed with Japanese locals, this small but friendly eatery served up excellent value bowls of tonkotsu ramen and some of the best gyoza we’ve tasted outside of Japan.
The New Club: Perfect for those mornings when you have a lingering hangover and want something tasty and bad for you to perk you up. Brunch here is the guaranteed pick-up trick before you have a long walk along the beach to blow away those gin-induced cobwebs.
Castor & Pollux: Tucked away under the arches on the sea front, we had to stop ourselves from spending thousands on comic-book prints, books on cycling, funky tote bags and vintage jewellery.
Era: Down the side of the North Laines on Upper Gardener Street, Era is a tiny hole in the wall home to all things mid-mod – beautiful Ercol chairs, GPlan tables, quirky posters and signs and a selection of gorgeous pottery. All run by knowledgeable people who will do you a good deal on that must-have piece of ’60s kitsch.
Cult Hero: eclectic selection of vinyl, DVDs and books, all run by a passionate record lover who really knows his stuff. Plus the prices are way looowwww, making anything from here a great choice.
What we did:
Walked along the beach; played on the pier. Checked out some of Brighton’s indie clothing shops in the North Laines. Nearly spent £300 on a Japanese sukajan jacket. Admired the Pavilion’s spires and turrets as night came down and the city fizzed into life around us.
Turning My Heartbeat Up by The MVCs. Playing loud and proud in DeadWax Social, this burning hunk of Northern Soul is a goodtime record to match Brighton’s playtime vibe.
Night Owl by Gerry Rafferty: Sad and downbeat – but somehow fitting for early evening in the North Laines, sitting watching Brighton’s hipsters come out to play.
What we bought:
A copy of It Follows on DVD for £7 from Cult Hero; possibly one of our favourite horror films from the last five years. Chills to the bone. And an overlay poster from a Belgian police shooting range. Eclectic, yes. Attractive? Not really – but when it comes to unusual purchases with a ‘what the hell is it?’ factor, it had to be made.
Where we stayed:
House Of The Dead / Crazy golf?:
HOTD VII on the Pier. £1 per play; Brad made it to ‘Boss’ level, I crashed and burned after the third wave.