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Monday, February 18, 2008

You know it's Chinese New Year when you bump into the Mayor of Brighton wearing a cheongsam.

Carol, me old china.That is indeed Mayor Carol Theobald shopping for evening wear at the Corn Exchange. I didn't get a photo of her husband, Councillor Geoffrey Theobald OBE, but the way he was dressed he looked like he was about to serve a bowl of egg fried rice to table four.

Anyhoo, I like to mix with the great and the good, so I spent part of yesterday afternoon at the Dome, celebrating Chinese New Year with a load of white British people. To be honest it was disappointing. Mainly because they wouldn't let me in.

The adverts promised six hours of entertainment and activities, including "a fantastic showcase of traditional and contemporary staged performances in the Concert Hall, including music, dance, theatre and community choirs... and it's all for FREE!"

Guess which word attracted me. Darren Hayes could learn a lot from the Chinese. Mind you, he can only dream of playing the Dome these days. He's more of a pub singer now.

Anyway, tickets for events at the Dome usually start at about twenty quid, so given the chance to sit in the posh seats for free, this one naturally proved popular. It started at midday, so I pulled my finger out and got there at... um... 2pm. By which time the auditorium was at full capacity and anyone optimistic enough to think they were going to get in, had to join a queue and wait for someone to leave.

Needless to say I'm not that optimistic, so I decided to pop next door to the Corn Exchange and stalk the Mayor for half an hour. She obviously couldn't get into the Concert Hall either. If you're wondering whether that red chiffon scarf is part of the traditional Chinese dress, the answer's no: it was there to cover up her Mayoral chain, which someone had obviously insisted she wear over the cheongsam.

Anyhoo, Carol did a better job of feigning interest than I did, although I was fascinated by the raffle...

Mystery Prizes
I'm not sure if it's some kind of New Year tradition, but personally I feel that wrapping up the prizes so that people can't see what they're winning might just impact on ticket sales.

So I watched a bit of Chinese Brush Painting, met the Feng Shui woman and looked at the slimming tea from the Chinese Medicine Centre, before deciding I preferred the look of the takeaway food on the next stall. After which I went home. I intended to go back at 6:30pm for the Chinese Lantern Parade through the city streets, but by then I had a headache (it was probably the monosodium glutamate in the chicken chow mein), so I decided to stay at home and see in the New Year by watching Wife Swap. I'm no Confucius, but it seemed like a wise move to me.