Julie Burchill finds herself pondering the good life on the terraces at Audio

‘He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man.’ These wise words of Samuel Johnson, written in 1809, invariably come back to me when I survey the young would-be studs and should-be starlets who sashay each night throughout the watering holes of my beloved Brighton.

Though they may seem carefree, who’s not to say that their pursuit of the hedonist dream is not fuelled by a existential crisis? It’s interesting to consider that those who *party* the hardest (a euphemism for the taking of drink, usually accompanied by sex and ofen by drugs) may be the ‘deepest’ members of society (rather than the most shallow and sluttish, as the Daily Mail would have it) who must drink in order to slake the pain of knowing that one is a mere bird of passage blown about in the trade winds of one’s own existence.

Even I – a jolly middle-aged matron, and somewhat religious – am sometimes a tiny bit perturbed when I dwell on the fact that the when I die, the party will carry on without me. Imagine how much weirder this is for youngsters, in the full bloom of their immortality!

Little wonder that the current modish euphemisms for making a beast of oneself – ‘getting mortal’, ‘on a mission’ – refer directly to the fragility of life and the inevitability of death.

It’s ironic that in our bid to forget death we bring it closer by reaching out for alcohol, whether through accidents in the home, complications in the liver or brawlings in the street.

But life is a process of hope over experience, and writers (who in theory should be smart enough to think through these things clearly) have a long tradition of drinking themselves stupid – literally.

I don’t go to bars to meet The One – partly because I don’t believe in him, and partly because I believe I have him – but to talk to my mates and listen to strangers and in the course of this I myself have slipped irretrievably from being a writer who drinks to a drinker who – occasionally – writes.

So, with this new column, I shall seek to make the best of this unfortunate development, writing about the best bars in town and the most intriguing overheard conversations therein.

One of the best places I know of to watch the world go by is Audio, commanding a part of town where three Brightons – gay, daytripper and local hedonist – meet.

Whether one chooses to take one’s ease and watch the passing parade from the gorgeous terrace, cosy up in the cool, dark bar or dance oneself dizzy in the subterranean club, you never feel – as the restless soul does in so many other places – that the party is happening elsewhere.

It may well be true, as Blaise Pascal wrote, that ‘All human evil comes from a single cause – man’s inability to sit still in a room.’ Never mind – pre-load, pack a hip-flask and come along with me on this bumpy ride we call the lush life.

If you’d like to while away some blissful hours like Julie, try Audio Brighton.


10 Marine Parade, Brighton
Phone: 01273 606906