21 January 2007

"Ralph Richardson got stuck in the lift"

Occasionally life throws up unexpectedly storming evenings that are above and beyond your normal "see your mates and drink a bit" type night out. It was a friend's birthday last night, and all I knew was that it was a joint thing in someone else's house on the seafront. We pulled up to find that not only was the party was being held at a beautiful mathematically tiled terrace house in one of the posher crescents, but it was the one where Laurence Olivier used to live. Tumbling out of a transit van clutching off-licence carrier bags was clearly the only way to arrive.

God, what a house. The stairs just went up and up, every floor full of antique furniture and so much space. Even the plumbing was posh, apparently. There was a dumb waiter going right from the basement to the (?)third floor, and one detail we picked up was that Sir Ralph Richardson got stuck between floors in it once. I'm sure he played many important roles in his long career, but I know him best as god in Time Bandits.

We mooched around and stood in the kitchen for a while before it got a bit crowded and so we liberated a few bottles and headed upstairs. A sitting room had a gorgeous oak dining room table in the back that amazingly no-one had colonised. Morrissey was singing "Irish Blood, English Heart", which made me happy. We set up camp, using pieces of paper as makeshift coasters (it was a really nice table) and got into it. Over the next few hours random people wandered in and out or sat on the sofas over by the windows. Some introduced themselves, sat down and had a few drags on our jazz cigarettes. Tales were swapped (one of the hosts had a good line in stories about free parties and festivals) and the world set to right. There was dancing downstairs which a few people indulged in, but mainly we stayed put, occasionally foraging for more wine. It seemed like the best table in Brighton, and probably was.

For the first time in my ungrateful life I might even write a thank you note after a party. Scenes like that don't come along too often for us mortals.

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