When I got back from Dundee my aunt R and cousin S were at home. They decided more or less on a whim to come and visit from Australia. They're both fun people and I haven't seen them in years (due to an excess of geography) so it's good to catch up.
At the weekend, we made a trip to Brighton to see my brothers. Lunch in a too trendy to be true veggie cafe called something like Wai Kiki Moo Kau; tasty enough but a little overpriced. Then we did the touristy thing and visited the pavillion, which is the most fantastically over the top building ever. In the evening Screwy fed vast numbers of people, having stocked up at a very cool place called the Taj, which is a brilliant hybrid of a conventional supermarket and an ethnic mart, and sells lots of magnificent exotic vegetables.
Friday night we went to a club, Bake at The Pressure Point. I had not brought any clubbing clothes with me, so just went in the sweaty and nondescript t-shirt and skirt I'd been wearing all day. Screwy assured me that in a Brighton club, nobody would mind. Anyway, it was a slightly weird experience, being a club when I wasn't dressed up. In a way it was quite liberating; I knew full well I wasn't cool or fanciable or anything else, so I just threw myself into the music and dancing with no anxieties. In fact there was a very wide mix of how dressed up people were, which I found rather cosy.
I didn't even feel any particular pressure to like the music, because it wasn't my choice and I know next to nothing about funk. As it turned out the DJ'd music was pleasant but nothing special, the first live set was very good indeed and the second was crap. The venue, being just a room above a bar, was a little small for the number of people in it (which was mainly annoying because there was a break dancing display which I simply couldn't see for the crowds), but otherwise a very pleasant atmosphere. And it was the kind of club where everybody seemed to know everyone else; people were clearly there to have fun with their friends rather than show off how cool they were. Bit overpriced, though; £5 door and £3-£4 for drinks. I guess I'm just used to Dundee prices!
We spent most of Saturday recovering, sleeping late, eating badly, sitting around chatting, some at home and some on the beach. Thuggish Poet turned up at some point in the afternoon, so the four of us were together, which is always a momentous and usually, these days, a happy occurrence. And now we're five, temporarily, cos we all get on like the proverbial with cousin S. Thuggish Poet has been expanding my musical horizons too. I am very impressed with Venetian Snares; they do a lot of fascinating things, including sampling from classical music. I need to listen to more of their stuff. And some rap and hiphop, I really should have made more of a note of the names, cos I'm totally ignorant of the whole genre and Thuggish Poet knows cool stuff.
This lazy day culminated with Screwy feeding another huge crowd of people, this time mostly Thuggish Poet's colleagues. Turns out that Thuggish Poet is not the only one who's not a typical school teacher; the others come from several different countries and they're all young and political and freethinking. Nice crowd, actually. They took some convincing to eat chicken liver bolognaise (Screwy has a bit of a thing for offal), but I knew full well it was going to be delicious.
Sunday I set out with P'tite Soeur and Cousin S to see an exhibition of sand sculptures. This involved a three-mile walk in very hot sun, so we all got rather burnt, particularly me since I was stupid and didn't take precautions. D'oh. But the walk along the Brighton seafront was great fun, though we didn't get to see the sculptures in the end as the £5 entry fee seemed a bit steep. A rather nice, though expensive, pub lunch at the Barley Mow on the way back.
Yeah, it's a theme, hanging out in Brighton involves spending a lot of money. Other than that it's a great city; I hadn't really explored the town before and it's a really fun place. Very young, very trendy, very cosmopolitan, very subculture. Every other pub or cafe or shop is a venue, there's so much going on culturally, and it really gives the impression of welcoming all kinds of people. And of course all the pretty Regency architecture and brightly painted houses and lovely sea views. I can really see why the brothers enjoy living there.
For example, at the club Friday night we ran into a rapper called Baba Brinkman, who is a vague acquaintance of the brothers', and he mentioned that he was performing The Rap Canterbury Tales on Sunday afternoon in a little miniature theatre above a lesbian pub, The Marlborough. That sounded like a cute thing to do so we all went to that. The six of us, four sibs, a cousin and Screwy's carer, formed about a third of the audience, and attending involved a bunch of the theatre techs carrying Screwy's wheelchair up a steep and narrow flight of stairs. This is probably technically illegal but letting Screwy (and of course other wheelchair users!) enjoy culture takes priority over bureaucratic fire regulations.
The show was great; it's sort of supposed to be making the Canterbury Tales more accessible but from my pov it was making rap more accessible. Lots of very clever wordplays and concept translations (the pilgrims travelling to Canterbury become a group of hiphop artists in a tour bus, and so on). I'm not entirely convinced by Baba's theory that rap represents the renaissance of the pre-modern oral tradition, but it's an interesting idea and not without merit.
Finished up with a family dinner including my Aunt R. She is in the middle of a huge row with Cousin S and keeps trying to get us to take sides, which we aren't so keen on. But anyway, her attempted manipulations failed to spoil a pleasant and sociable evening. I was glad to get home all the same on Monday; the brothers' place is a bit of a student dive and and their lifestyle is too chaotic for my old fogey tastes. But a few days with them (and away from our parents) is a great blessing! Yay family!
Oh, and gradually catching up with book reviews:
- Poul Anderson: The broken sword
- Iris Murdoch: The sandcastle
- Mary Doria Russell: The sparrow