Sabbatycle: Part 2


October 2016

Huddled against a urine-stained building’s side, hiding from the cars and buses, the urban cacophony, grey noise, a figure stoops. In the shadows, the nondescript face winces as more blood and spit is splattered onto the damp and cold slabs. Passers by pretend not to notice, darting eyes on the buses carting, or are they staring? The whizz of moped and flash of a cyclist’s red warning. More spectators to the show. Surely, there must be a hundred less perverse locations to do it? But the need for release is too much to defer. An escape from the pressure and pain, and to feel the sharp pin tip puncture the body’s fragile surface. The satisfying ooze is a feeling unable to resist. The sharp point is prepared methodically, even sterilised, and cleaned with a single antiseptic wipe, as are the other tools, the fingers. The risk of infection is high and the hard to reach target area needs delicate preparation too; carefully cleaned with a strong compound wash, minted.

Finally ready. Damn it. But the first incision is disappointing in its lack-lustre execution. Half a probing hand in mouth, the other pulling wide the cheek, and the safety pin is wielded wildly, jabbing indescrimintently towards the back of my mouth like a drunken musketeer with wavering sword.

‘AGHHH!’ The inside of my cheek is lanced like a horseman’s armour. An index finger prods and pokes in an attempt to gauge some kind of oral reference point. A flap of skin. Back. Bottom. A small hollow in the pink flesh. I wiggle my finger tip right into the back of my slobbering gob. Right. Keep the finger there, and then use it as a guide to push the pin right into the puss.

The sleek metal slides along the tip of my index finger, I am Dennis Taylor, the abscess my Black Ball. I hesitate as the prick prangs the membrane of  my gum. Agh! A sudden and completely unsatisfying shooting of pain behind my tooth forces me to retreat. BOLLOCKS!

Taking five from the teethy torture, and Brighton’s evening continues as it were. The Monday night trundle of office workers, delivery drivers, tinder-daters, soul searchers, homeless folk, pissed art students and overtly bearded lumber-sexuals, advertise the varied style of life the city breeds, welcomes, and nurtures. On first impressions, it already seems that Brighton holds its arms open, invites you in with a friendly nod, and lets you choose to do things how they suite you, in a reassuring kind of way, like the slow nod and smile of a attentive and wise grand parent. It seems like the kind of place that wouldn’t object to you performing self-surgery in an attempt to burst a tooth abscess on the high street by Boots, and therefore it would have been rude not to have taken it up on such an offer.


Within a few hours I am on taking the first steps in finding my feet in the new city, and have located the three crucial Ws, Waterstones, Wetherspoons, and a WC. I pick up an OS ‘Explorer’ map of Brighton and Hove, a copy of Brighton Rock, and a note book. For lunch I find the fallafell place with ease, recommended by Lucinda’s mum and sister, as a result of the excellent and meticulous directions shared over breakfast this morning. Opposite the Fallafel cafe is a shop advertising ‘Vegetarian shoes’. I don’t understand what this means. I do however have a vegetarian friendly Fallafel and Halloumi wrap, which is very tasty, and should help with my integration into this new place called home. I eat it deliberately and slowly in the throng of the street, making sure the town folk register my thoughtful menu choice, and hopefully await their approval.

Whilst in the cafe I listen to a quasi-dreadlocked Australian girl tell her slightly older English gay best friend about her ‘trip’ of a lifetime. I recognise the sea organ in Croatia she tells a story about having a beer next to whilst on an LCD-induced cosmic journey, which coincidentally is the same length, depth, and interest of the henna tattoo on her arm. She coins the pasta-rasta mantra and story-telling turn of phrase, ‘We were tripping balls’ with such ease that I am very close to spilling my falafel wrap, and in particular the chilli sauce, right into her eye. When conversation falters, she quickly turns to tell her dutifully listening short back and sided, white and middle-class friend, who is a very patient man, that he should  seriously think about dreading his hair. ‘It’s a lifestyle too man.’ He laughs nervously, and keeps up appearances admirably. At this point I leave. I make the short walk back around the corner towards the hostel managing to avoid any temptation to occupy a squat, dive in a bin, ingest ketamine, or listen to Goa psy-trance.

However, I do come across a decent looking pub where there is a brilliant live jazz/swing band playing. The place is pumping, and the band, adorned in suitable waistcoats and trilblies, have got everyone dancing. I stand suspiciously like a weird loner in the darker corners of the bar with a pint of lager and watch people. A rugby-playerish bloke is accosted by a super enthusiastic and slightly crazy American woman who has recognised him. He looks blankly but politely back, she prompts that they have been talking Tinder, to which he rises to the character he has portrayed online and proceeds to throw awkward, possibly flirtatious, jibes towards her. ‘Oh! You’re that mental one!’ Who he looks a bit taken a back and not at all prepared to have bumped into. At this point I am happy to be the weird loner drinking a pint of lager, watching from the corner. A group of students dance ironically, and the Tinder woman soon looses interest in the bloke, moving onto shredding the dance-floor with a bespectacled man with a jazzy shirt who is cutting some dark shapes.

If you can’t beat them join them.

If you can’t join them, ridicule them to make you feel better about yourself.

Getting my bearings is still in progress, and so I think I will go for a bike ride tomorrow, and then will try again to get my teeth into the generous offerings of Brighton. For the moment though, to bed, in a 32 bed triple bunk dorm…. and I still can’t get rid of the taste of Corsodyl.


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