102/2024 – “You Heard It Here First. At Horatio’s”

Hello from lovely, albeit today a bit drizzly, Brighton. Time for a bit of an update, although I didn’t do all that much yet. Isn’t it a weird notion, that we – well, I at least – feel like I don’t do “being on vacation” the right way, if it isn’t packed with activity? Things to do and see and visit and experience? I know I shouldn’t put that pressure on me, it’s my vacation to spend as I like. I didn’t read as much as I had expected either, but let’s not get into that as well…

Back in my cute little studio apartment for a nap / rest yesterday afternoon I was scrolling through the Brighton Pier website to figure out if I wanted to take my camera and tripod down there in the evening even in the drizzle. Under “What’s On?” I found an interesting event happening at Horatio’s Bar on the pier: “A talk with actress Imelda Staunton”, which I knew from some of her iconic roles like Prof. Umbridge in Harry Potter. I dithered a bit, because did I really want to go out again? Turns out, yes and man, am I glad that I did.

The talk with Imelda on her own was super interesting and she was very down-to-earth and fun to listen to. Early on she mentioned that she met her husband when she was working with him on a theatre production – so a fellow actor, though I had no idea whom. Silly me! She also mentioned that he was in the room. Later on the chat turned to Downton Abbey, where Imelda starred in the first two movies. Suddenly the host said, “Let’s just bring on your husband as well, shall we?” and that obviously was planned from the start, but like I said, I had no idea! Hello, Mr. Carson! (aka Jim Carter, aka Imelda’s husband for 41 years!)

Jim Carter and Imelda Staunton at a talk in Brighton
Such a lovely couple

OMFG! Seriously, how did I not know this? Easily answered, because even though I liked Downton Abbey well enough, I wasn’t a fan as such and I’m not really up-to-date with the who’s who of showbiz people in general. But what can I say? Jim Carter also was so much fun to listen to. A born storyteller, very funny, very quick-witted. He coined the term I used for the title of this post and once he realized how much laughter it caused, he used it quite a bit. It also was very lovely to see how much they cared for one another, but also how in sync they were sometimes, which is no wonder after four decades of marriage. And how they still managed to make each other laugh, which is so important. Imelda said at some point “I heard him tell that story so many times over the years and it still cracks me up.” Which I thought was so sweet.

My personal tiny highlight: At one point the chat turned to awards in general and the Olivier Awards: “They are coming up soon? Next week or so?” the host said. I of course had to intervene and shout “on Sunday” from my seat in the 2nd row. “Sunday! Are you going?” the host asked of Imelda and Jim. “No”, was their reply. Imelda then looked in my direction and asked “Are YOU going?” Hahahaha. I wish! Because Operation Mincemeat is nominated a couple of times and they are the only reason I know about it.

All in all, I had such a great time and I’m so glad that I a) found out about it in enough time to go and b) actually went.

The other lovely activity happened in the late morning: I visited the “One Week In Brighton” exhibition at the Brighton Museum, which was all about how ABBA had won the Eurovision song contest in Brighton in 1974 which catapulted them into the stratosphere of pop royalty. Or something like that.

Some text information on ABBA and the 1974 Eurovision perfomance on the screen
At the “One Week In Brighton” exhibition

While I was walking through the exhibition and learned all the tiny interesting / nerdy facts about that event, I thought how strange it was, that there had been a time when ABBA hadn’t been the household name they were and still are. I was born in 1975 and I never knew a world without ABBA. Which is true for a lot of other things that have happened before I was born, but this somehow just illustrated it once again.

Photo of the new blue blaque for ABBA in Brigton
The plaque went up last week…

The morning before the ABBA exhibition I spent strolling along the promenade. Taking photos of the West Pier ruins, strolled through the Lanes for a bit. All lovely but sometimes a bit chilly due to the wind. It’s April after all.

Ruins of the West Pier in Brighton
Ruins of the burned down West Pier

The stuff that had put me in a bit of a weird mood after I had arrived on Tuesday is already so far from my mind or at least the anxiety it had caused is so far from my mind that it hardly seems worth mentioning now 36 hours later. But in the spirit of full disclosure, authenticity or whatever I though I’d share it anyway.

Before I left home on Tuesday I put a tiny combination padlock on my (softshell) suitcase, because I had to leave it on the luggage rack on the train a bit out of sight. While I did that I either must have somehow changed the combination or the padlock broke in the meantime. Because I’m pretty sure that I still recall the right combination (never changed it after I set it after purchase), but once I got to my destination the padlock didn’t open. Spoiler alert: it still doesn’t.

Cue major panic. I spent a few minutes unsuccessfully online looking for instructions from the manufacturer how to reset the lock and then about 45 minutes watching Youtube tutorials on how to pick combination locks. To no avail, because the instructions went right over my head. To rotate the dials and feel resistance and hear and feel and just… Ugh! I just did NOT GET IT ! At all. My mind was running through all the consequences: I need to destroy the zipper and thus won’t be able to use the suitcase anymore. Thus I need to buy a new one. I need to dispose of the old one! Cue spiral down the well of negativity: Embarrassment. Shame. Self-flagellation. All the while the sane part of my mind knew that I could still access all my stuff by “only” destroying the inner lining of the lower compartment of my bag. I could still use it for this trip, even though getting all my clothes and gadgets back in might be a tiny challenge. But doable, because softshell and flexible and all.

Broken suitcase
Last resort to unpack…

So all in all… not the end of the world. Not the end of the trip. If I accidently messed up the combination or really forgot about the old one? Yes, that was a (stupid) mistake. But we all make mistakes, right? So forgive myself and move on.

I managed to go through the panic and embarrassment without starting to cry hot angry tears, which all in all is also a big progress. Go me!

Though it didn’t help my mood that public transport on that first night was messed up by a blocked road and the information I got from the app on my phone and the screen at the bus stop were not the most reliable. I also hadn’t gotten a good idea of the “lay of the land” so to speak. It was already dark when I wanted to get on the bus back from the city centre and I felt slightly lost and overwhelmed again to find my way back. Hence, off to bed once I got home and forgot about that first day.

Being on the same bus route by daylight and walking around by daylight yesterday definitely did help to find my bearings. That’s where I’ll head down again in a minute. For some lunch, some coffee, some tiny errands, another stroll along the promenade / through the Lanes. Something like that. Some coffee and cake at some point possibly? Some more photos. We’ll see…

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