27 July 2009 (Monday) - Brighton. In The Rain

Whenever I set my alarm clock (alarm phone) I’m usually awake waiting for it to go off. I think I was awake most of the night waiting for the 5am alarm. An early start, as the train went at 6.20am. “My Boy TM ” gave me a lift to the station, and it was as well that he did. Oh the fun we had with the queue.

One of the normal people wanted a long term season ticket, but refused to have the accompanying photo-card that went with it. Somehow or other that would have impinged on his civil liberties. And then the next one wanted an off-peak ticket, and didn’t like the fact that he couldn’t get one before 10am. He was getting quite shirty, and demanded that since his train was about to go, perhaps the bloke behind the counter could just sell him an off-peak ticket, and he could have the rest of the argument on the train. When eventually I got my turn I didn’t have the heart to tell the ticket bloke that his price was £1.40 more than their web site had quoted.

The train journey to Brighton was OK, once we’d got past Rye. There was some twonk with an iPod who was broadcasting to the world. The fact that no one liked his music was rather upsetting to him. He must have tried over a dozen tracks to find one that the nice lady opposite him liked. He kept asking her opinion, and she kept saying she didn’t like it. It was a shame she didn’t tell him to switch the thing off.

As I came out of the Bo Peep tunnel I had a text message – an update from my correspondent in Brighton. It was pouring hard there, and I could get a number 7 bus straight from the train station to the hospital. Excellent! I walked out of the station and straight onto the bus.

I arrived at the hospital and was immediately glad I hadn’t driven. There was no parking at the hospital. That’s not “all the spaces were taken” – there was no parking at all. I had been told that had I driven I might have been lucky enough to have found a parking space in a nearby street. But all the streets looked very full of cars, and there were more traffic wardens there than I’ve ever seen before anywhere during normal working hours.

The Royal Sussex County Hospital is a funny place. Over the years I’ve visited a lot of hospitals, and I’m sorry to say I took an instant dislike to this one. For all that the place is huge, I found it rather claustrophobic, and more than a little bit shabby and run down. Especially the block which is less than ten years old.

Built on a hillside, the bit where I was going was level 6, and was actually on the ground floor. I was there to formally assess one of their lab’s trainees, and the chap’s manager was a lady with whom I went to college at Brighton Tec from 1981 – 83. Years ago. I felt rather sorry for the poor bloke – he was excellent, and passed with flying colours. And then sat and politely listened whilst me and his boss had a good old gossip.

Before leaving the hospital I thought I’d visit Corinne, who was hard at work on one of the wards. I’m glad I don’t work on a hospital ward – they always look such busy places.

I had this plan to spend a bit of time reviewing old haunts before going home, but pretty much all the shops I used to visit have closed over the last twenty six years. And it was raining hard. So I merely kept up the tradition of taking home a pineapple for ‘er indoors TM. Twenty-odd years ago, every college day, I would bring her home a pineapple. Finding a greengrocer in Brighton took some doing, but eventually I found one.

As luck would have it, the greengrocer was just over the road from the Evening Star – a pub I’ve been meaning to visit for years. It’s got the largest selection of ales I’ve ever seen in a pub, and cider & perry on tap too. So, since I had a few minutes until the train was due, I had a crafty half. Just the one. It’s not as much fun without a gang of mates in tow, but I enjoyed a a pint of their “Original” whilst I tried (and failed) to text a picture of the pump clips to “the usual suspects”. There are currently five pubs on Beer in the Evening’s website that I rate at 9/10. This place might possibly be the sixth.

Whilst there, I took the opportunity to bring home a couple of bottle of expresso – coffee flavoured beer. Dark Star brew a decent drop of ale. It’s a shame the place is two hours away (and twenty quid!) on the train. Maybe one day….

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