Brighton and Trendy Bars
Posted on 2007/12/02 18:41:43 (December 2007).
[Saturday 1st December]
Quite a busy day today. Chie and I went to Brighton in the daytime so I could finally buy a pair of new shoes. I'm not sure I can remember when I bought the last pair, but I think it was before I started work in Japan (i.e. over two years ago) and I'd worn them pretty much every day since then.
In Brighton we did the usual little stroll along the sea front - although it was pretty cold and windy so we didn't drag this out too much. Still, it always feels good to be by the sea, even if only for a very short time. We had a bit of a wander round the Lanes after that, including a spot of tea in a fairly swish looking place called Havana, partly just to shelter from the rather inclement weather that had set in.
We then got to the task at hand - Vegetarian Shoes. We spent a fair amount of time in there - at least 20 minutes - and I tried on a fair few pairs of shoes before eventually coming to a decision. In fact, in the end I actually bought two pairs, and Chie even got a pair as well. It was actually surprising quite fun going shoe shopping together, something I never thought I'd hear myself say.
The weather was still pretty inclement, so we weren't enthused to hang around in Brighton much longer, and were back on a train to London around 3:30.
In the evening I went out to meet my friends Simon and Vanessa at a bar/club called Sway in the centre of London - a night out to celebrate Vanessa's birthday. Chie was originally going to come along too, but was a bit tired and lacking in enthusiasm following her disappointing Christmas party the previous evening, so decided to give it a miss.
To put it diplomatically, the bar was "not the sort of place I would normally go to". It was really big, split up into lots of rooms spread across several floors. We were in the room called simply "bar" rather than any of the more clubby type areas, but still it seemed to have the obligatory loud music meaning it was very difficult to hear what anyone was saying, especially later on. The clientèle were, again, to put it diplomatically, "not my sort of people". I suspect they all had high paid office jobs in the city, probably in things like marketing and middle management, and I suspect very few of them did anything actually tangible or worthwhile. The drinks were quite hideously priced - to try and brighten my evening up I thought I'd try a cocktail - you know, when in Rome and all that - and a very average Bloody Mary set me back an incredulous £8.80. I don't mind paying a lot for drinks when it is something a bit rare and special - single malts being the obvious example - but this was just ordinary "Big Tom" tomato juice and run-of-the-mill Smirnoff Vodka. I've had the original Bloody Mary at Harry's New York Bar in Paris, into which a lot more effort went, using better quality ingredients, and was a fraction of the price. Oh, and they handed me the change from a tenner back on a little plate, as though they expected a tip! What, as though somehow I didn't think they'd charged me enough yet? If my Mum didn't read this blog you'd be seeing some pretty colourful language now. Again, I don't mind occasionally paying a bit over the odds for drinks if the drink itself is something really top notch, or perhaps the venue is really special... but I really couldn't see what the "value add" of this place was - it was noisy, overcrowded, full of annoying people, and in general just appallingly shite.
By about 10:30 I couldn't really bear it any longer, so decided to make my apologies and leave. Then, in a slightly strange move, I decided as it was only a short walk away I should pop into the Cittie of Yorke before heading home. The two experiences couldn't be more different - the customers at the 'Cittie were just a completely different demographic, the atmosphere was immediately warm and welcoming, a pint and a bug of nuts set me back a meagre £2.50, the decor was spellbinding as always, and there was no crappy music playing - just the pleasant hum of other people's conversations for background.
I guess I'm officially a grumpy old man now then. Surely there must be some modern bars that aren't filled with complete morons, have music at a sensible volume, and decent drinks at sensible prices. I haven't ever met a single person who actually claims to like those conditions - "Yea, it was great, I couldn't hear what anyone was saying" - and yet still bars perpetuate this ludicrous environment, presumably because the less you talk, the more you drink... it pains me to think that people are actually succoured in by that in such large volumes.
Simon and Vanessa had arranged to stay at our flat tonight, and they didn't stay on too much later after me either. Before bedtime Simon and I enjoyed a very old man-ish wee dram and the usual chat about the state of the IT industry, which was so much nicer for the fact I could actually hear what he was saying.
I have the same complaints about a place in Thessaloniki where they charge an amazing £10.28 for a pint of Duvel beer (there's a list of beer prices there in my June 19th blog entry at http://www.bryanhollamby.co.uk/blog/bryblog2006.htm). And this is a country where the average weekly wage is £125. By the way, why does the Cittie of Yorke serves nuts in a bug? ;-)
Posted by Bryan at 2007/12/02 19:05:24.
Mmm pints prices in Italy are pretty steep too, every time we go to a pub it's an average of 5 Euro for a pint of anything (yes even blood), which is quite a lot considering that 4 years ago they were 3,50....
Posted by Lox at 2007/12/02 21:04:30.
As for the bar, probably the posh situation wasn't right for you, but when we were at the AMERICAN BAR chatting up girls like professional gigolos, you didn't feel out of place!! :D
Posted by Lox at 2007/12/02 21:05:30.
Bryan: that is utterly obscene! Oh and yes the bug is (as you probably guessed) a typo. :)
Posted by John at 2007/12/02 22:58:59.
Lox: not quite the recollection I had of that evening! I believe you're referring to the New York Bar at the Park Hyatt in Tokyo (not to be confused with Harry's New York Bar in Paris, as mentioned above). You of course were flirting like the future of the species depended on it, I on the other hand was just there as your ugly friend who made you look better by contrast. :)
Posted by John at 2007/12/02 23:01:31.
You can swear if you like, but remember what you write on the website is there for perpetuity! You Dad and I knew how to run a pub, didn't we? Real ale, real food, real fire ... so naturally we got real people in.
Posted by John's Mum at 2007/12/03 11:34:41.
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