Brighton was the jewel of the South coast and chosen holiday destination for Mad King George’s son, George, whose glorified curry house (otherwise known as Brighton pavilion) still stands proud in the centre of Brighton.
Brighton operates under the illusion that it is a metropolitan hub of urban creativity, kindred spirit to Barcelona or some other city where pavement cafes are filled with the urban elite sipping black coffee and talking about Voltaire while the sound of someone playing light jazz on their saxophone drifts through the air. Fatboy Slim lives here and he throws a massive party so that we can all dance to the same rhythm. It’s like a mecca of British cool. Hell, we like, totally voted for the Green party. We do things differently… we take our time. Chill out, look at the sea, isn’t it beautiful? I might sketch it in my dream journal.
And this, in part, is true – although everything operates at slightly lower temperatures and everyone is much paler than in our idolized metropolises. But it’s not all peace signs and wheat/dairy/gluten free scones. The hemp-wearing hippies are being edged out by the 4×4-driving trendy mums – escaping the stress of London, and moving to what is now London-on-sea.
It’s because it’s just so different, there’s a different pace of life here, dahling. It’s got a really edgy independent cinema, you know, but actually let’s just go to the Odeon because the parking is better. And Tesco is much cheaper than those over-priced independent book shops.
On the other side of the spectrum, conscientious, tie dye-loving cyclists are thrown from their bikes as the other set of residents, the ‘chavs’, drive their crunked-up novas (as low riding as their Nappa trackies) across cycle lanes, a rainbow of colours streaming from between their alloys as louder and louder RnB streams from their open windows, and their exhausts drown out the Pink Panther theme tune (the only saxophone music I can think of) with a sound that resembles someone blending empty bottles of Lambrini. They’re probably going to the amusement arcade which also has tanning booths in it.
Occasionally, all out war between these groups breaks out on the neon stretch that is West Street (Walkabout, Oceana, Wetherspoons- they don’t tell the tourists about it when they advertise the beautiful town by the sea). Dead-eyed men wearing cheap gold, accompanied by pink veloured, love bitten women, pushing prams, go out in search of the pseudo-creatives with their ironic slogan t-shirts, while the great vegan unwashed make weapons out of recycled tin cans, and very, very middle class children shield themselves with tomato and olive foccacia.
I am, however, being cruel. I love Brighton. It can be a bit too trendy sometimes. There are awful chavs, and awful students and awful women who call their children Matilda and Georgiana – but it is a lovely place to be. And anyway, I live in Hove, actually.