The Whistler – August 2009

Perennial Sights and Sounds
Perennial Sights and Sounds. Photo by Felicity Bath


The West Hill Community Association AGM was held on 30 June, at which the yearly accounts were adopted and the committee was re-elected en bloc after standing down. However, we are always looking for new members and volunteers so if you had to miss the meeting and would like to join us, please get in touch. Reports were received from Sylvia Alexander-Vine and Lianne Hall concerning the extensive use of the Hall by people of all ages undertaking a variety of activities, and the news that the Hall is now registered as a venue for civil ceremonies and weddings. Although the fee for this registration has been paid by our first couple, we will now be paying rates and intend to renovate the kitchen.

Pam Bean reported on the enthusiasm of the Wild Life Garden group who have created an imaginative and flourishing haven in the garden surrounding the Hall. They had the need for an outdoor tap, answered voluntarily by Laurence Parker, a local businessman and trader, who generously gave time, thought and skill to helping the group when he knew their work would benefit from having water on hand. Mr Parker has also said he will mend the wooden strut of our notice board at the beginning of the approach twitten where he has had flowers planted along the border, making the entrance more attractive. The freshly repaired pathway, tarmac covered over with gravel, is a most welcome addition to the health and safety of the Hall users after a very busy period of construction of the 3 town houses behind the Hall undertaken by Mr Parker. Thank you.

Letters to The Whistler

Dear Editor
I should be grateful if, through your journal, I could express my thanks to the taxi driver who picked me up on 3 July at the garage near Hove station after I had severely twisted my knee and brought me home to West Hill. I paid for my journey but in fact, the driver had just knocked off and this was an act of kindness. He came from the Streamline taxi company.

Norma Hayworth, West Hill

Dear Residents
WHCA is fortunate to have two representatives on the Conservation Advisory Group, who work together in the interests of West Hill, Isla Robertson and Jim Gowans. The CAG objectives are to act as a reference group to advise the Council on the implementation of the Conservation Strategy, on major planning applications or Council proposals affecting Conservation areas, Listed Buildings and on the development of policies for the protection of the historic built environment. You can contact Isla and Jim through The Whistler or by writing to them care of WHCA at the West Hill Hall. Another distinguished local resident, Robert Gregory, is also part of the CAG Group, representing the Brighton Society.

Sylvia Alexander-Vine, Chair

Pizza Girl in a Eurostar Saveloy Party Adventure

A cut-out-and-keep Gossip and Grumble No 32

My Saveloy Party was probably, definitely, the event of the summer. Way beyond just A-list celebs, we had the whole alphabet there.

It started, like all good parties, spontaneously, without planning and pretty unexpectedly. My long-term ‘house guest’ Biggins and I were travelling by Eurostar, returning from a book signing tour in Brussels (we had managed to sign thousands before being politely escorted from the store, but that’s a story for another day.) We decided to come back by train so that we could both do some work on the journey. It was genuine research for a future Whistler wine column feature and absolutely not as if we were just having a lark on expenses. OK, admittedly we may have been a tad ‘exuberant’ but who wouldn’t be when doing a 32 brand Belgian Super Lager tasting ?

To be perfectly honest, we couldn’t have been that loud because only one person complained “Excuse me!” bugled a voice from the other end of the carriage. We looked around from whence the admonishment had been launched and, joy of joys, who should it be? My great buddy Dr Cazzer, or Loukey, as Biggins calls her. Caroline Lucas enviro supremo and all round Green party goer.

How we all laughed. “You are a Drama Green,” Biggins bellowed. “And you’re a Saga Queen” Cazzer retorted ‘ageistly’ in reply. At that exact moment, with the timing of a Giselle and the poise of cartographer, a new voice joined our game.

“If you ask me, you’re all SAGA LOUTS”. The whole carriage erupted in happiness, expressed by laughing. The arch humorist, a row back, stood up and bowed ceremoniously to thunderous applause. Joy of joys, it was my hirsute soul mate and bestest chum ever in all the world and everywhere else, Lord Melvyn Bragg. “Braggers!” Biggins bellowed in recognition of a fellow A-lister. How we laughed. Our now expanded four person ‘research’ team guzzled our way onto Ashford International, then changed onto the Coaster Express to Brighton that stops at all stations, and for some reason at Eastbourne twice. Cazzer was in fine form with her stories of derring-do and her various protest arrests. She can tell a story better than any politician I know. What is she like? They don’t call it the Green PARTY for nothing. With our boisterous boozing banter, our fellow passengers probably thought we were destined for St Leonards, not the bourgeois Brechtian Byzantine of Brighton. They should count themselves lucky that the Hirsute lad (Melly) had fallen asleep mid-paragraph, whilst telling a story about Brasier and Antcliffe’s new article, Evolutionary relationships within the Avalonian Ediacara biota for the Journal of the Geological Society. To be honest, I was probably the only one who understood what he was on about. I should do, I’ve been writing his questions to his guests for his Radio 4 programmes for years.

Our ‘research laboratory’ slowly pulled into St Leonards-on-Sea. I know everyone in St Leonards, especially since half of Hackney and half of Brighton have moved down there. The train doors unfolded like curtains on a stage to reveal Mr St Leonards himself, Mr Saturday Night, the vamper camper, Mr Graham Norton. “Well Hellllllloo Brighton train” he exalted to all and sundry. Naughty Norton immediately spotted me, then our quadrangle. Biggins and Norton greeted each other with a Stanislavski physicality, a probing, frisk assessment of a scrummage, itself worthy of an Ivor Novello or at least an Eminemmy award. Saggy Braggy had woken up and proceeded to decline a passed glug of Belgian Strawberry Champagne ‘As Favoured by Monks’. Instead, he opted to share Cazzer’s ‘Wheat Grass Milk Shake’. Thank God Melvyn had put his dental plate back in, although it would have been better if it had been the right way up. Melly had us in stitches with his stories, first about the notice he’d seen in a Dials shop saying ‘Only two MPs in the store at a time please’ and then the story of when he had stolen Sally Taylor’s saveloy. It takes the simplest thing, but that is the moment when together, as if one, in unison, we jointly all cried out “Let’s have a Saveloy Party!” Call it symbiosis or just mad, but we all had the same idea at once, spooky or what?

Our train eventually ‘steamed’ into Brighton station. Cazz and Graham collected the bottles and cans, each loading up a full trolley and continuing in search of the recycling bins. Cazzer has an upcoming election to be the West Hill rep at Parliament and the first Green MP in the British world, so naturally she was concerned to not just leave detritus as the security camera footage might be sold on to Dials-based Ricochet TV. We all have our public image to protect from scandal after all. The rest of us, queued at Sing Li’s Chippy in Guildford Road. We each ordered several of the red-skinned pig brained beauties. I ordered cods roe in batter for Casser knowing she is vegan. Slowly, or to be exact, virtually in a sound byte our creative cluster was causing tongues to wag. The inevitable enthusiastic throng of onlookers began to gather and onlook.

By the time the eco-warriors had joined us we were being i-photoed, blogged, and tubed-abused by the excited and enthralled ensemble of West Hilliers. In moments we had probably emptied both the Grand Central, The Trafalgar and The Yeoman. So many fans caused difficulty leaving Sing Li’s. Our captors cleverly became our rescuers as one by one we were ‘mosh pitted’ on high above their heads. With frisk assessing hands they carried us aloft upward and onward thither this way and that to Kenny Livingstone’s house. (I have had his keys for years and feed his budgies every Thursday. The regular ‘soirees’ there are my little secret.) We were certainly the flashiest mob in town, quite a sight, each 6ft off the ground, jostled a-top a seething swarm of buzzing people, all with our saveloys in hand. Then, to top it all we were ceremoniously joined by a team of 35 critical mass naked bike riders. At their helm, a triumphant waving Vinod from Buckingham Road’s Bright News. What a sight we were. Only in Brighton, B Right On! Yes, we all knew this was going to be the West Hill event of the summer so far and, dearest Whistlers, it was, believe me it certainly was….

Pizza Girl

Chemical Nasties

Sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) is reported to be the most frequent of eye irritants in shampoos. It is a cleansing and foaming agent used in a range of personal care and household products. SLS can damage the protective outer layer of the skin and has been shown through research to penetrate the skin to depth of 5-6mm (1/4 inch) causing skin irritation with deeper transference occurring via the bodily systems. SLS is commonly used in laboratory testing on humans and animals to induce skin irritation so that the healing or modifying properties of other substances can be measured.

Skin is also sometimes irritated by SLS in tests to increase the penetration of other substances. Using SLS via cosmetics and personal hygiene products could potentially allow other toxicants to penetrate the skin more easily. Toothpastes often contain SLS in order to clean the teeth and mouth more efficiently, even though the substance has been reported to irritate mucous membranes in sensitive individuals. In the US, children’s foaming bath products carry a health warning alerting parents to this.
Formaldehyde is used as a preservative in nail polishes, soaps and other cosmetic products. It is also found in household products such as furniture polish. It is a suspected carcinogen and common skin and eye irritant. The international agency for research on cancer (IARC) says there is evidence that formaldehyde causes a form of throat cancer in humans. Although the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not object to the use of formaldehyde in cosmetics, providing certain restrictions are adhered to, finished products containing it in the EU must be labelled with the warning, ‘Contains Formaldehyde’ if the concentration exceeds 0.05 per cent. It is one chemical you are well advised to avoid given its potential to cause allergies and irritation. Seek alternatives wherever possible.


If you find it difficult to get to the shops or know someone who could do with some help getting there, the Easylink shopping bus service is a door-to-door minibus service that picks shoppers up from outside their homes, takes them to a local supermarket or city centre shopping street and then returns them home when they have finished their shopping.

The service runs on Mondays to Fridays and is specially designed to meet the needs of older people and people with mobility difficulties. All the buses are wheelchair accessible. The drivers are willing to help passengers to their seats and make sure they are comfortable before driving off. Easylink buses run in all parts of Brighton and Hove, from Saltdean to Portslade and from Patcham to the Seafront. Shopping centres served include the Holmbush Centre in Shoreham, Sainsbury’s and the Co-op in Hove, ASDA at Hollingbury and the shops at Churchill Square, London Road and Brighton Marina, as well as out of town centres, such as Worthing, Eastbourne and Paradise Park, Newhaven.

Details of all the journeys that run are on the Community Transport leaflet and website and pre-bookings can be made on 01273 677559. The fares are reasonable, £3.50 return for most local journeys and a little more for the out of town trips. Much cheaper than a taxi and good value for the personal help that some passengers need. Supported by the B&H City Council.