A man always know where he is in London, the best city in the world. In younger days he lived anywhere, he flitted across the city like an urban nomad. Continually skint, sometimes living North, sometimes down South, usually East... and if he really made it, across to the gilded and expensive West.
Whether it was dirty clubs in Plaistow, shebeens in Stoke Newington Church Street, dodgy boozers in Streatham or away days to Kew Gardens, learning London is like learning life and owning it. He will remember nights with girls who didn't know London as well as he, it was even better than the first time he told a waiter what to do and he did it. The lush fields, not the dust bowls, of maturity.
But when a man is tired of London, he leaves it but makes sure he returns often enough to remember that he once conquered the city. When he does go back he instantly changes, when he arrives at a London terminus from his out-of-town home. The aggression comes back, the fixed glare of the Londoner is affixed and the city is his once again.
But does he go to his old haunts, does he revisit his youth and reflect on older circumstances? No, he doesn't, he goes straight to a West End members' club where he plans to meet his old London mates, he's had enough of queuing at the bar in packed and exuberant pubs, he prefers a known hostess who takes his coat and gives him a smile.
Young in London is like being in paddock class, getting on a bit means he travels business class and he doesn't care. He may decide to meet at Home House, it's a bit far out in Noho but it has rooms. Maybe Soho House, but a bit claustrophobic, perhaps the Groucho, pretty girls but pricey.
Then there's the Hospital, mutton dressed up in lamb in his book but there's always the rooftop terrace at the Century, the only club where he could smoke but he gave up a while ago... like most people of his age. That's where he goes.
It's then that he thinks of his new home close to Brighton & Hove, allegedly the country's most advanced digital city, Wi-Fi available across its beach and a winter wannabe version of San Francisco or Vancouver.
He'll order a Kir Royale (pints make him fat nowadays) at his London club and be pleased that he lives out of London. He'll think of the South Downs National Park on his doorstep, a great place to bring up his kids and the chance to see bands long before they're famous, playing in front of 100 people... although he hasn't see a gig for a while.
He'll think of the amazing companies and start-ups that are springing up such as Brilliant Noise , Semantico and Future Platforms. He'll also be reminded of the online accountancy company Crunch, that helped him set up his own business and make his professional so utterly uncomplicated and streamlined. He loves meeting Brighton entrepreneurs.
Then he'll become angry and question that if Brighton & Hove is so fantastic, why there aren't any member clubs like there are in London? He'll order a second Kir Royale after realising his mates are going to be late (they always are in London) and thinks that maybe he should set one up.
If he ever wanted a night out in Brighton with some good old media boys, there's nowhere befitting his status as a man who owns his own business, nowhere exclusive. He'll remember recent nights out at the (admittedly good) pubs but he was by far the oldest bloke in there and thinks that perhaps he shouldn't be wearing trainers at his age.
He then orders his third and fourth Kir Royale, attempts the Times crossword and remembers that he has a busy day tomorrow. His mates have just texted and are up for an all-nighter and now want him to go to a place called Shoreditch House that is a £20 cab fare away and even if it does have a pool on the roof it's only 10 minutes to Victoria so he calls it a night.
On the train back to Brighton as the train crawls through the horror of Horley and Redhill, he thinks again about a Brighton members' club and how nice it would be for his London mates to come down to see him, how he wouldn't have to make the irritating commute and endure the (young) drunks on the train.
He then thinks of all those Brighton entrepreneurs and how well they all seem to be doing and wonders if they should pool their money and set up that private members' club. But then he falls asleep and wakes up in Brighton. He'd love a nightcap... but there's nowhere to go.Suggest a correction