Venturing into the darkened interior of the Marine Tavern I faced the backs of eight souls surrounding their ringleader.

All except one were on a mobile phone.

The one, complete with a fur hat and coat, addressed me immediately and was introduced as Matilda of Kemp Town.

I opted for the only beer I noticed on tap as I’m getting quite used to Harvey’s. It was fine and as I was hungry I was pleased to spot a sign saying food is served every day from noon to 9pm.

But sadly things have changed and I was politely informed food is only available on Sundays. A presumably more reliable notice, in the depths of the pub, says this roast is available between noon and 6pm at a cost of £6.95 or £13 for two.

I was offered crisps but the shelf was bare. Barman/ringleader Matt scurried off to the storeroom and returned with armfuls of packets – all of them the same oxtail flavour (or beef, as Matt said it was when he was at school).

By this stage my eyes were getting accustomed to the dim light and heavy wooden interior and I perched at the edge of the bar, not yet ready to join the circle of trust.

By now the topic of discussion had moved to a guessing game about the name of knitted covers on toilet rolls. The first suggestion of a doily was dismissed as daft and the conversation moved to tattoos.

At this point the fellow in the plum sweatshirt pulled it up to his neck to show off his homage to the film Silence Of The Lambs – sadly doily man, who also declared “wet one coming through” when he entered the bar, hadn’t seen the film.

It was a fair age range round the bar and I got the impression that apart from a fag break or the odd leak, this lot wouldn’t be coming or going any time soon.

I went for the latter and found myself in a marble-lined gents, though I think it was really plastic, facing an avocado-coloured urinal – now you don’t see many of these any more, well not outside skips anyway.

By the time I’d returned and squeezed through the tight thoroughfare behind the bar there was a spare stool so I joined the trusted circle and learned Matt had given up smoking just two weeks ago and that, apart from smoking a few cigarettes, he felt the giving up was succeeding.

The music was crazy loud and when Mulder and Scully by Catatonia came on it sparked another conversation about relative ages around the bar, sadly yours truly remembers it only too well.

The song choice shifted and alternated between Blur and Oasis but my attention had been taken by an ancient quiz machine. Looking around me I felt I had to be in with a good chance of winning some money – I was wrong.

From here, however, I could see the rest of the entertainment on offer at the Marine. This consists of a small TV screen (not in use during my visit) and a large, jazzy gold curtain forming some sort of stage with equally jazzy red cloth above (not in use during my visit).

Instead, the entertainment soon found me in the form of Matilda of Kemp Town (real name, she informed me, Jennifer) joining me uninvited on the quiz machine.

She immediately informed me that she used to be the manager of Elstree Studio and had been fairly close to Brad Pitt and a host of other stars – it never became clear why she shared this information.

I returned to the circle and noted the prices on various chalkboards. Champagne by the bottle is £39, prosecco £17.90, selected doubles £4.50 and the “famous” trifle shot just £2.50. Though it was interesting to note half the circle were wine drinkers.

By now the chat in the bar had moved on to rollercoasters in Las Vegas and how Stratosphere was much better than Mousetrap. I decided it was time I got off this particular ride.

As the ad says, the Marine Tavern does what it says on the tin. It doesn’t claim to be anything else and I found it a pleasant break with an interesting set of folks.

I’m undecided whether action in front of the gold curtain would have added anything to my visit or not.

  • Have you ever visited the Marine Tavern? Or danced in front of a gold curtain? You can email me at

The Marine Tavern 13 Broad Street, Brighton BN2 1TJ

Decor: ★ (out of five)

How else do you score an avocado suite?

Drink: ★★★

I’m getting used to Harvey’s

Price: ★★

Not cheap at £4

Atmosphere: ★★★★

Interesting and interested

Staff: ★★★★

Matt was an attentive host


Oxtail crisps or nothing