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Friday 9th May 2003

Brighton is a fine town and itÂ’s the middle of the Brighton Festival so the streets were filled with people on stilts with fireworks exploding off their heads and men rowing up the road in a boat and massive inflatable spiders. At least I presume that was because of the festival. Maybe itÂ’s always like this.
I bought some over-priced chips and soaked them in vinegar and took a walk on the pier (obviously the one that hasnÂ’t burnt down and fallen into the sea). It was reminiscent of childhood days spent on the pier in Weston-Super-Mare as I watched the sea crashing beneath me and wondered whether I would be hurt if I attempted to dive in (as the signs warned me).
As I finished the chips a gust of wind caught the polystyrene tray and the pool of excess vinegar spilt all over my T-shirt. That was annoying. I like vinegar a lot, but not enough to wear it as a cologne.
I wandered back through the amusement hall, remembering how much I loved these places as a child. I was hoping to find a pinball machine, though I donÂ’t know why as they never work properly in such arcades, but clearly pinball has lost out in the video games revolution. Instead I had a go on a few decade old fruit machines.
I was delighted to win £5 on a Monopoly based fruit machine for landing on Park Lane, until I pressed collect and was greeted with 25 twenty pence tokens. All wins of £3 and over were paid in tokens. I had forgotten all about tokens. What a total con. If I had stuck at Leicester Square I would have had £2.80 in cash.
No matter, that was 25 free goes on the fruit machines, so I played on. But the tokens didnÂ’t even really work properly. I was left with about 7 of them that wouldnÂ’t work in any of the machines and just clattered out into the pay out tray,.
I went to one of the booths to complain, but the woman said they would not exchange tokens. I said I didn’t want to have money, I would he happy with 7 tokens that actually worked in the machines they were designed to go in. She said that if I went to the office they would exchange them for vouchers which I could use to buy snacks in the café.
I had seen the café.
I didnÂ’t want to eat there.
Perhaps it was partly because I’ve run into the brick wall of bureaucracy already this week, but I was really annoyed by this whole turn of events. I thought I’d won £5, only to find I’d won some silver metal discs, £1.40 of which were useless, unless I wanted to buy some more unpleasant chips, which would probably only result in me being covered in even more acetic acid.
I decided to take revenge on this cheating arcade that knowingly filled its machines with tokens that didnÂ’t work, aware that its patrons would just lose heart and give up their hard earned winnings.
I thought that if I could jam these tokens into the coin slots of seven machines, the resulting loss of earnings and maintenance costs would more than outweigh the £1.40 that had been swizzled out of me.
Unfortunately the tokens were too small to get jammed in any machine I tried. Instead they just clattered out into the pay out tray.

Then I stopped and thought about it. What would this look like if I was caught? I was a 35 year old man, with a well-paid job and vinegar all over his clothes, failing to sabotage some out-of-date gaming machines in a childrenÂ’s arcade.
I donÂ’t think I would have gone down in the annals of legendary avengers against evil.
I decided to go back to the hotel and change my shirt and threw the tokens into a bin.

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