I’ve always loathed Karaoke. In fact I’d go so far as to say that the only thing I hate more in the world is mushrooms. And maybe the Daily Mail. But in the great scheme of things it’s pretty loathsome. Why on earth anyone would want to spend an evening listening to people who think they can sing wail along to a selection of dull power ballads and 80s ‘classics’ is beyond me. Actually choosing to be one of those people is even more incomprehensible.
So I’ve managed to get away with doing it twice in my life so far, both times under duress, and when I found out that my friend had hired a karaoke booth for his birthday I was of course filled with horror and vowed not to join in. Until the beer intervened…
The international sign of rock
I’d like to point out that contrary to appearances I am not enjoying myself. Karaoke is the work of the devil.
Still, the weekend wasn’t all traumatic, and the unexpected choice of accommodation was a highlight.
The problem with Brighton being every Londoner’s favourite seaside escape is that it’s always impossible to get a hotel (well, if you’re me that is: other people are organised enough to actually plan these things a bit further in advance), and even if you do you have to book them for at least two nights. So I was left with two options: for out £300 for a posh hotel, or camp.
Now camping is something I always associate with the countryside, not cities. In fact, I’ve never even considered the idea of camping in a city, and only ended up doing it this time because I’d run out of options. Turned out to be a fantastic option – £18 for the pitch, in a quiet park in the East of the city, only a short walk from Kemptown (the nicest bit of Brighton, in my opinion). It was so nice waking up in the morning to fresh air and a beautiful view out over the sea (well, when it wasn’t raining that is), and so I definitely think I’ll do it again – I’ve spent a fortune on hotels in some cities in the past, and then end up spending no time in them as I’m out sightseeing and partying.
I remember the time when London Pride was the highlight of my summer, especially the two years it came to Clapham. What better way to have fun than spending the day in the park with mates, getting drunk, going on the funfair, seeing bands on the stage, dancing like and idiot and generally marvelling at the diversity of 200,000 gays and lesbians partying together without a care in the world.
London has changed so much in that time, getting so much more liberal, to the extent that I just don’t feel the need to go to London Pride any more, it just feels a bit pointless now that no-one cares if you’re gay anymore, and the party itsself just feels a bit like a retreat back into the ghetto. Although I must admit I think it may be more that I’ve changed more, and it’s just the idea of several hours of unbridled hedonism in the streets of Soho surrounded by people half my age has for some reason lost its appeal.
But despite all that I’ve kept going to Brighton Pride – it’s nice to get out of the city and head down to the coast (even if that bit of the coast is just London-on-sea), the party is still in the park, and it just seems so much more friendly and laidback compared to the insanity of the London one. So as usual, I travelled down with mates for the weekend, and do you know what? I hated it. Far too many people, too much noise, too many queues for absolutely everything – and ended up leaving the park after an hour to head back into town and found myself a nice straight pub to settle down in for the evening to avoid the mayhem going on around me. As I sat there, it suddenly dawned on me that the problem was clearly not Pride, but me: I’m getting too old for this sort of thing.
I have no idea how that crept up on me – it’s only a couple of months ago that I was enjoying myself in far bigger crowds at Glastonbury – but I discussed it with friends and they all agreed with me. And pointed out other symptoms I hadn’t considered. Drinking real ale instead of lager? Old. Choosing weekends walking in the countryside rather than getting pissed in London? Old. Finding myself agreeing with Tory politicians sometimes? Old (and scary).*
The whole thing made me want to go and do something crazy in attempt to fend off the ageing process. And then I realised I will be: I’m quitting my job to head round the world for a year, with nothing to come back to. Which made me feel a whole lot better.
*the alternative explanation for all of these symptoms would have been even scarier: I’m finally turning straight.