Saturday night in Brighton and we wanted a meal out after an exhausting day lying on the beach. The restaurants are open again at full capacity which is wonderful. It’s so arbitrary what’s considered safe and what isn’t though. A drunk Saturday restaurant is considerably harder to manage than a full theatre audience. But there we were, two covers upstairs at Donatellos, watching the early drunk Saturday crowds. It’s lively there. Thankfully we weren’t expecting candles. It was a joyful bombardment of noise.
About twelve women with sashes were seated off to one side of us with inflatable plastic cocks and spray tans to match the bellend. The waiters were in fear for their lives as they threw down their drinks and improvised games, at one point breaking out all across the restaurant floor as they tried to throw cake down each other’s fronts. Who knows how long they’d been drinking for already – their volume would’ve easily carried to the back of a capacity crowd, even if their diction was sorely lacking. Their play was balanced by the play of real actual children, come with the family, running around between the tables whether or not their parents tried to stop them. Fun fun fun. We sat and watched as the beleaguered waiters brought us huge piles of tasty food through the warzone with unflinching positivity and professionality.
At the table next to us, drinking in the chaos with a mixture of nostalgia and relief, we met a young woman. She used to be a manager here. She worked the tables, she worked up to it through many jobs, front facing, and one day when she was managing one of her customers wrote an email to her boss because he liked her style – and fancied her. He was there with another woman when he noticed her. Facebook pages were checked out and his persistence paid off after he passed muster. She no longer works at the restaurant now, because she’s had two kids with the guy, and they live out of town together.
Conversation is easy with her, and it’s clear that she would’ve made a good manager. I like that she comes back to her old place of work on a Saturday night alone, and she has seafood risotto and tiramisu and engages the neighbouring table in easy conversation. I have tiramisu even though I can barely fit it in.
This is Brighton though. A place of easy communication with strangers. It’s lively here by the sea, and you will often just get swept up in a moment of somebody’s day. The weekend brings the crowds of course. Loads of those bloody Londoners coming for the sea air…
I’ll be back up to the smoke again tomorrow, but it feels like we’ve had all the things needed from a weekend in one day. It’s so calm here and the summer really is upon us.
There’s so much for me to do still. The relaxed energy of this town, the weekend and the season – it has decelerated me a little bit, but now I’m going to have to click back into gear and get on with the difficult bits of existence.