Sometimes conversing with Londoners in Brighton makes me feel like a right hillbilly.
At a dinner with strangers the other night (see, I don’t tell you everything, dear diary, and no, it wasn’t speed dating) it emerged a lot of them had relocated from London. Given the glazed-over look of serenity in their eyes you’d think they were wrinkled orange ex-pats knocking back sangria in the south of Spain.
"It’s such a change of pace here isn’t it!"
Is it? I coughed into my napkin to mask my surprise.
I constantly feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of stuff on offer here. You’ve got Brighton Festival, the Fringe, all the events the Duke’s puts on (and now they've re-jigged their website, you can actually find them!), the nightlife, SICK! Festival, Brighton’s Big Screen, events at the museums and libraries, Pride, Kemp Town Festival, the Great Escape, the naked bike ride, the tattoo festival, the Japanese Festival, the Science Festival, the Mermaid March, the Lewes Bonfire Night, White Night (RIP, still have hopes of it returning though), Burning of the Clocks, the Artist’s Open Houses. Such a change of pace!
Okay, well maybe it is from London’s. But the UK is not London, as some Londoners and the mainstream press often assume it is. My advice is if you want to experience a change of pace, try living in Devizes or Canterbury as I did for a while and then you’ll appreciate 'the change of pace'. A southern nancy speaks. Or have a little jaunt to one of those small Northern hamlets that aren’t just whimsical mystical names on maps, they’re dreary places with people bored out of their fucking skulls. Where it’s front page news when a herd of sheep cause a create a traffic jam involving two tractors, or Mrs Crabapple scores best flower arrangement at the village fête for the eighteenth year running. These may be simply twee rural scenes you dip into when you mishear the satnav on your Range Rover, but for other people this is life. And in the more urban areas, you've got your scallies being scallies, rather than art galleries and pop-up pulled pork food tents.
I attempted to big up Brighton by saying how it's such a cultural cosmopolitan melting-pot, isn't it.
"No it's not," said the Representative of London in Brighton.
Excuse me, but the lady seated to my left just revealed she's from Norway and has the accent to prove it. I gave up and drained my glass.
Another conversation I overheard between Londoners had them bemoaning, "There’s not a lot going on in Brighton musically, really."
We’ve just had Eurovision winners and misogynistic metallers Lordi play at the Concorde 2 the other night for flip’s sake. Laibach before that. Charlie XCX. The Jesus and Mary Chain. That's just off the top of my head from the last few weeks or so. The Prodigy and Madness playing here soon. The aforementioned and questionably-named ‘Great’ Escape coming up. You want grime-y punk-y you’ve got your Prince Albert, you want metal, doom, grunge or indie bands with names created out of triangles, hashtags and forward slashes, you’ve got your Green Door Store, rockabilly schtick with Stay Sick, The Old Market, Komedia, that James Bay all over the place (including my local), the Haunt, loads of stuff going on at Sticky Mike’s, the newly refurbed The Hope and Ruin, BIMM, The Brighton Centre, The Dome, dozens of pubs that play host to new talent and lots of writers across lots of publications previewing it and reviewing it.
If that doesn’t do ya, for a tenner you can get a day return and fuck off back to London to catch a gig and enjoy a £5 pint or two.