June 28th, 2004

Foxy Ladies, or, Twelve Go Mad In Brighton

Saturday night was caffeine_fairy's hen night. Well, actually it was a vixen night because "hens are rubbish, and vixens are hard and sexy and eat hens for lunch" (to quote Maisie WINOLJ, the event's main instigator).

Most of the hens vixens, assembled in Croydon around three-ish. teawith and I had considered heading to Brighton a bit earlier to do some shopping, but as it turned out, traffic between her place and ours held her up and in fact we were right on time at the station. Vixen ears on headbands were handed out, and we boarded the train to head to the sunny seaside.

Stag/hen night uniforms seem to have become a lot more popular since my hen night (okay, okay, so it was knocking on for twelve years ago at this point). In my day, the bride wound up with an embarrassing T-shirt; these days it seems to be T-shirts all round, or other similarly dodgy items. We saw a small group of women on our way to the station, all of whom were wearing devil horns and one of whom was wearing a red sash proclaiming her to be the bride-to-be, along with veil, L-plate, etc.

We got on the train and managed not to freak too many of the other passengers out. Admittedly there weren't too many of them, and the one bloke at our end of the carriage seemed to be far more interested in my boots than in the conversation about Brazilian waxing which was taking place over his head. That, or he was nodding out, or nodding off; he got off at Gatwick Airport, probably to go and inspect someone else's footwear.

Picking up the last of our party at Brighton station, we headed off to the seafront, led by Maisie who was brandishing an umbrella topped with a fox glove puppet wearing a veil. (I do wonder quite what the people of Brighton make of the stag and hen parties who seem to all but take over the town of a Saturday night. I suppose we're probably not substantially weirder than the language students who appear to make up a reasonable part of the population for the rest of the time.) We passed a second-hand shop where teawith spotted a stuffed fox toy, which was duly purchased and handed to caffeine_fairy. Miraculously she managed not to lose it, spill drinks over it, or otherwise damage it during the course of the day.

The next stop was Ann Summers (link not worksafe); for those of you not in the UK, they're a chain of sex shops, catering to the mass market -- i.e. not hard-core stuff, but with sex toys and underwear and suchlike. To my surprise and delight, their clothing section included this top (slightly more worksafe but caution still advised) in my size ;)

By this time we were enjoying the delights of a typical British summer's day, i.e. it was absolutely throwing it down with rain. CF didn't seem to have had anything to eat yet, and it was about five o'clock by this point, so we headed to the Palm Court restaurant on the pier for fish, chips and champagne. You might think this is an odd combination but it works quite well; scarfing down a chip buttie in one hand while holding a glass of champagne in the other appeals to my sense of the silly. Nice chips, too.

Next stop: the Komedia comedy club. A table had been booked for us, so we took up residence, bought some more bottles of fizz and listened politely to the house rules -- no talking while the show's going, no heckling. (I think they've probably had a few too many of the drunk-and-incomprehensible school of hecklers.) I'm fairly sure the hen night we'd seen on the way to Croydon were on the next table... The first comic was sporadically amusing, the second very funny indeed in a stoner-geek kind of way, and the third double-act did a lot of visual puns at high speed to snippets of well-known songs (I would have trouble describing it better than that). The compere was also extremely good. One of our party did get in a bit of heckling (Compere: Well, can men and women share hobbies? L: Of course they can! We like sex as well! -- which got a loud cheer from the audience), and we drank the bar out of the sparkling wine we'd been ordering... we had to sneak out a little bit before the end of the show to get to the restaurant where we were having dinner, sadly.

The restaurant, Donatello's, was obviously used to dealing with stag and hen parties, as pretty much everyone else there seemed to be in one or the other. I feel for the one or two couples who had probably wanted a quiet, romantic dinner... and I feel even more for the waiting staff, though the service did have its rather ropey moments. The sight of the hairy arse of the groom-to-be at the next table didn't quite put us all off our food. (He was wearing chaps.)

The food was tasty Italian fare (I felt that they could have been a little more generous with the veal, but there were plenty of others struggling through large portions of pasta who were grateful for some help...), there was wine and there were cocktails. I think it was probably just as well that we didn't have dinner before the comedy club, as most of us had drunk sufficient wine that we could be a bit more restrained with the cocktails; had the cocktails appeared earlier on in the evening, I think we might've been dragging some of the party members home.

In a fit of even more organisation than usual, a minibus had been organised to get us all back to Surrey and/or SW London. My place was the first drop off and, by that point, we had had no accidents, injuries, losses, illness, or particularly inappropriate behaviour. Was this really a hen night? ;)