View From The Hill: Nicholas Lezard (April)

I like to go on an adventure so the other Sunday I went with my friends Ben and Janine to see the Marina. In however many years of living here I have never been to the Marina. Going to Ben and Janine’s is already an adventure, because they live in Kemp Town. It’s a half-hour walk from my place to theirs so I make sure I’m well stocked up on Kendall Mint Cake. It’s an incentive to keep moving because I don’t like Kendall Mint Cake very much. I also take oxygen because they live on the 16th floor.

Anyway the Marina is another half hour walk from theirs so I bought an extra packet of Kendall Mint Cake because you can’t be too careful. The plan was to go to Wetherspoons for a restoring pint and then Malika Indian restaurant for lunch. But first we had to get to the Marina.

“So what’s it like?” I asked in the lift on the way down. Ben thought for a few seconds.

“Let me put it this way,” he said. “Do you know what the murder rate in London is? It’s something like two people per 100,000 per year. That’s how they measure it. Now, do you know what the murder rate in Baltimore is? It’s 47 per 100,000. In other words, you’re more than 23 times likely to be murdered in Baltimore than in London.”

I wondered where this was going. Was he about to say that the murder rate of Brighton Marina is roughly that of Baltimore’s?

“Anyway, a few years ago I was in Baltimore for work. And **** me, what a place. If you went into the certain areas of town people would just stand there with their mouths hanging open. People from outside normally know better than to go there.”

Again, I wondered where this was going. How long would I be able to fend off the gangs of Brighton Marina with just a pair of Kendall Mint Cake bars?

“The thing is, we went to Baltimore Marina. And you know what? It was lovely. Lots of expensive boats, people having fun, fancy shops, the works. But Brighton Marina? That’s what you’d expect Baltimore Marina to look like. They really should swap them over.

I began to see what he meant as we approached it. To get to the Marina you have to go through a desolate building site and a series of forbidding 1970s underpasses that all smell of glue. (Not hard to work out why.)

“This looks like the kind of place they filmed the ultraviolence scenes in A Clockwork Orange,” I said.

“I think it’s more the kind of place where Regan and Carter from The Sweeney chase the villains and give them a good kicking.”

Once you breach the Forbidden Zone, though, the Marina improves. A pint of IPA at Spoons is £1.68 and the buffet at the Malika is delicious. Just try not to inhale the glue fumes on the walk over there.

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