How did you come to Brighton & Hove?
I came to Brighton in 1989. I came to a party under the arches on the seafront, and decided to come and live here. I was tired of living in London, surrounded by acres of built-up streets. I had been writing training film scripts and was sick of sitting alone in a room. Brighton presented itself as the ideal provincial town. I travelled down one weekend, and got a summer job language-teaching.
When I moved down, I knew two people. I went to live with one of them, an American who was renting a house on the shorefront at Shoreham. Within weeks, I moved into Brighton and started sharing a house with some other language teachers in Southampton Street, Hanover. A few months later I moved down the hill to Hanover Street, renting a room from the boyfriend of one of the teachers. A couple of years later he moved to France and I bought the house, complete with sofas, cutlery and heaps of student junk. I still live there 13 years later. It’s got an interior wall which is stripped back to show a mixture of rubble and flints. I gather this is called ‘bungaroosh’.
What places have been significant to you?
The places that have been significant to me include the Pavilion, the Museum, the Arts Club and, of course, the area where I live. I was involved with the Pavilion and the Museum because in my time in Brighton I got involved with the fledgling multimedia industry, and ended up designing visitor exhibits. One of those was the ‘My Brighton’ exhibit, which inspired this website. I like Stanmer Park, with its classic microcosm of an English village: the manor house, the church, the duckpond, the farm, the shop. For a while, the Arts Club in Ship Street was a key venue in my social life. I learned to dance salsa there. In the 90s, there was a previous Arts Club in North Street. I used to play the piano there at lunchtimes for free – it had a grand piano with one leg propped up by a brick. It had a bohemian air. The service was incredibly slow but presided over by an incredibly charming Irishman. That Arts Club went broke, and it was alleged (don’t sue me) that the bohemian owners ran off with a lot of bohemian subscriptions. Today’s Arts Club is a different kettle of fish.
What key local events do you remember?
Events I remember? The Millennium celebrations, I guess. Drinking champagne on the beach, close enough to Palace Pier to make out the fireworks through the mist. The screenings of films on vast screens in Preston Park. There was a fire at the end of my street when the old brewery burnt down. Oh, and the huge blue plastic sheeting being taken off the Pavilion! For years, the Pavilion was covered with a scaffolding structure that was apparently the biggest in Europe. It looked like a giant blue plastic lunch-box. Some Brighton teenagers had lived in the town all their lives, and never seen the building in its full glory.
What do you like or dislike about the city/town?
I like the size of Brighton – you can usually see the edges: the sea and the Downs. You can bump into people in the streets who you know, and that you can arrange an evening out at short notice. I don’t like the obvious things – the traffic, in particular. I would really like to see the Old Steine as a pedestrian precinct. As in the old days, when fishermen used to dry their nets there.
Do you feel you belong here?
Do I feel I belong here? Brighton is known as a diverse, arty community. It has lots of students, a gay community, a liberal outlook, an accent on the arts….In that sense, I fit in. But I’m not a long-term resident. I can’t say my roots are here. Among the people that I know, there are few born-and-bred Brightonians. People come and go.
How long will you (or did you) stay?
I would like to stay here, because I know the ropes here and I’ve become involved with the town’s heritage. But if my job or relationship took me away, I would go.