The Whistler – January 2010

West Hill N-ice Man - Photo by Mark Baynes
West Hill N-ice Man - Photo by Mark Baynes


As the rest of the country shivered in December and January, community spirit warmed the residents of West Hill. Despite the weather conditions, a great number of people turned out to celebrate the holidays at the Christmas Party and the Carol Concert in West Hill Hall. This same community spirit led to innovative fun on January 9 when the icy slopes of West Hill Road became a tea-tray run for a number of neighbours and their hardy little ones, turning snowy adversity into a pleasurable event, having sealed the bottom of the hill with a barrier to prevent cars spoiling the fun (they weren’t attempting to venture up there any way).

Congratulations to Vinod and Meena of Bright News, who celebrate their 25th year of serving West Hill. Their never-failing value to the community was demonstrated as Vinod battled indefatigably through the snow and ice-clad roads, starting off from his home at 6am for the one hour journey to the shop, a drive which usually takes him 10 minutes. While the Co-op shelves ran short of vital supplies, Vinod managed to ensure continuity of supply, and the ever-cheerful James continued to provide freshly baked bread and personal food deliveries to those more vulnerable residents who could not venture out in the treacherous conditions.

Aren’t we lucky to live in such a great community? Let’s hear it for our West Hill heroes. To those of our many readers outside the area – may you have as much good fortune where you live.

Letters to the Whistler

Dear Editor
I would like to know if anyone who reads the super The Whistler (which I do) could help me.

I would like to know how many grandparents out there are denied access to their grandchildren for either a breakup in the family or any other reason. My husband and I have had to go through this, with expensive court case, have got access now but the mental strain is very hard. If you could contact me, would love to set up a tea or coffee morning with maybe some publicity to let people know what we go through.

My name is Celia Steer, Flat D, 41 Buckingham Place, Brighton.
Phone no 01273-776337 or email at Thank you.

Celia Steer, Buckingham Place

Dear Residents of West Hill
Late last year I attended a meeting with the Parking Services team and the Assistant Sustainable Transport Director, Mark Prior at Hove Town Hall. I was given a parking report that contains the end-of-year summaries for all the income from various sectors including permits, parking tickets, parking vouchers etc. This information will be very useful to us when trying to understand where and how improvements can be made within the system.

I spent a couple of hours putting proposals to the parking team about issues that you have raised, some of which were re-instating some single yellow lines to ease evening parking, free parking on Sundays in some areas and free Christmas and bank holidays. I also requested that Traffic Enforcement Officers continue to check resident bays until 8pm as complaints are now quite common that permit bays are often used by non-permit holders after 7pm. As the bays are enforceable until 8pm they should be checked until that time.

A new problem has occurred since the new rules were introduced to allow residents with driveways to park across them but are able to ask that other users do not. When the legislation was introduced I told the Council that this would appear to be illegal and unenforceable. The bay outer marking lines have been allowed to run the full length of the parking area. This means that when residents park outside their own driveway, they should display a parking voucher on their vehicle. At the moment, due to the lack of clarification via the confusing road markings, and the apparent lack of knowledge of the Traffic Enforcement Officers, residents are furious. We are dealing with the matter and hope to have it resolved soon.

As a member of the B&H Transport Partnership I see the various proposals suggested to ease the traffic flow in and around the town. The biggest problem I see is the strong opposition to the motor car. It seems that the majority of the members would like to see the car banned from the town and make room for more bicycle lanes, bus lanes and more areas for pedestrians. This may be fine in the distant future but at the moment I do not think that any major change is possible. Please contact me with you queries and problems via our new email address or phone me on 07768 002328 between 11am and 6pm.

Steve Percy, (chairman) Peoples Parking Protest

Community Spirt – it floweth over

On Saturday 19 December West Hill Hall hosted a funky evening of fun, food, fast music and wild dancing.

Patrick & Denise
Patrick & Denise
As ever, thanks go to Vinod and Meena for organising the event with help of Denise and Adrian Robins, Patrick, (erstwhile of Bright News) James and all the present staff. The food was fantastic, the music was provided by Stash, and talking of wild dancing,
Jiving Mr Mashru
here is Vinod Mashru and willing partner demonstrating just how it’s done. Is there no end to this man’s talents?

On Sunday 20 December West Hill Hall hosted a beautiful evening of midwinter candle-lit carols.

Candle-lit carols
Candle-lit carols

Eighty or so people of all ages from the local community, and beyond, ventured through the snow and ice to a warm, cosy and magical-looking Hall decorated with twinkling candles and fairy lights. Everyone, including babies and dogs, gathered around the piano and cello to sing carols such as Little Drummer Boy, Hark the Herald Angels Sing and Little Donkey while sharing mulled wine and mince pies.

It is one of the most favourite events that I’ve attended at the Hall. Looking around with the lights twinkling, the rosy-cheeked community gathered around the piano singing their hearts out, and the aroma of mulled wine, I imagined it could have been another era. Totally magical stuff. George Duncan

2010 with Pizza Girl

According to Julia Roberts Brighton has become ‘Camden-locked’, a lampooning spoof parody of uber-trendy London lifestyle retail  emporia. Hugh nodded and Biggins bellowed and guffawed in agreement. “That is why Hugh and I moved to the West Hill Dials because it’s so original, so individual, quirky and idiosyncratic.  It reminds us of our days when we met in Notting Hill.” Hugh nodded in agreement.

“It’s our little London village by the Station and the Sea, a best-kept secret, a treasure-trove and that, my dear friends, is why we want to announce that we are taking over the empty Threshers building opposite Jasmine’s greengrocers and opening a Travel Bookshop and Patisserie.” The dinner table fell silent except for the multiple popping of  champagne corks and Steve Coogan’s Ferrari screeching to a halt outside and, of course, the cheering. I had been sworn to absolute secrecy so was relieved they had broken the news. Hugh nodded.

Steve bounced into the room, kissed my nose rings and whispered into my studded ear “Have they told everyone yet?” Biggins winked in the affirmative. “I have some news myself” said Steve. “I am leaving Radio Norwich and have got my own show on Radio Sussex & Surrey.” More corks popped. I actually cried. Joy of joys, now Steve would be needing a huge stock of my visitors’ parking permits. I could virtually hear the bells of St Nicholas church ringing in my imagination. At that moment, the West Hill’s very own soon-to-be-elected, first ever Green MP ever, Caroline Lucas, climbed onto the table, her Sarah Pacini couture flowing with stylish effect. “I would like to propose a toast,” she orated with characteristic aplomb. She raised her chilled avocado juice skyward as she spoke. “To friendship.” We all cheered; the place went crazy. Dr Cazzer had never made such a short speech. As usual, her carefully composed words echoed the spirit of the room, the zeitgeist of the moment, the pulse of our group’s making. Hugh nodded in agreement.

Biggins bellowed and guffawed adoringly. He is so gorgeous, not even his recent addiction to super lagers would stop my loving him. Biggins had some Bright News of his own as he had been offered a part-time position at the convenience store in Buckingham Road. He was to be the manager of their new Krusty Kreme donut concession.

This party was going from better to even better. The naughties were over but the air was full of optimism for our own little London. This was going to be the Dials decade of the year.

So much is planned. New stylish street lighting, the cobbled pedestrianisation. The Little Buddha’s latest refit, Julie and Huey’s Patisserie bookshop about to open, (despite my reservations about the compatibility of travel books, choux pastry and cream horns). The installation of the Roger Moore sculpture on the Dials roundabout (at last), and the decision to relocate the property department of the estate agent near the Post Office to make way for a Selfridges Express, (bliss). A Green Council and a Green MP (joy of joys, the Children’s Hospital will be saved), but the icing on the cake has to be Melvyn ‘saveloy’ Bragg and I finally working together on a South Bank Show special about my life. This has meant more to me than even the New Year’s honours listing for my charity work. Expect to see camera crews galore, to add to the press pack permanently camped on my doorstep. If I can bring business to boost the local economy and support our darling traders, then my ambition is satiated with gratifying pleasures.

Julie and Hew are right, the West Hill Dials is like no other place in the country to live, our lifestyle, shops and restaurants are our  lifeblood. We can eat Polish, Italian, Japanese, Thai, British (cream-based), Bengali and Turkish. We can shop at charming bathroom suppliers, and quirky stores to buy a will, or  get Rothmans cigarettes, and orthopaedic chairs, panatone and stamps.

The champagne corks played their tune like a deranged wind instrument. Tomorrow was a new dawn, a bright, fresh beginning, the snow was long-gone, the recession recessed, and Hugh Grant, bless him, nodded in agreement.

Stop Press Breaking News

My closest friends and confidants have always said that if I jumped off the pier, others would follow. I was the first to invest in Dubai’s prefab island real estate, the Icelandish banks, and now, the move to  St Leonards-on-Sea.

Hastings Council has long been head-hunting my regenerative qualities and I have finally agreed and moved my third UK home to that said Parish. The temptation of a free house has always been a weakness and I am now officially an O.F.B [Over from Brighton – Ed]. Hastings Council shrewdly recognise that a tsunami of D.F.Ls [Down from London – Ed] will be sure to follow in my path.

My contract is initially for just six months. The irony of ironies is that Biggins and I are actually living in a hotel in West Hill Road in St Leonards-on-Sea whilst the South East Development Agency [S.E.E.D.A – Ed] contemporise my seven bedroom seafront home. It will feel just like home, but very different. I am being paid a fixed tax-free salary with an annual performance related bonus, of 100% or 200%  if I do well. For every Hackney artist that relocates, I get an additional cash-in-hand fee. Naturally, I will donate a percentage to both charities, the arts and the Save the Dyke Road Children’s Hospital site fund.

I will miss you all but please offer your famous West Hill hospitality to Jonathan. Rossy is duplex-sitting whilst in between jobs.

Next edition PG reports from St Leonards-on-Sea where she is living under the assumed name of Tina Malina.

PG says : Copyright PG – absolutely, definitely, no reproduction in any form without written permission from PG

Brighton Life

Sirena Bergman
Sirena Bergman
My first experience of Brighton was getting locked out of the completely unfurnished seafront flat that was to be my home for the next three weeks, and being rescued by an incredible stranger wearing a 1940s overcoat, a green cord hat and huge army boots. Having left my suitcase on the doorstep and my sense somewhere by the lift, we walked in the rain to The Cobblers Nest, on the way up to Seven Dials. A couple of hours later my key was fixed and my intellect stretched to its maximum ability after spending the evening talking about art, music and books. The lack of any furniture made cooking dinner for my knight in shining armour rather complicated, not to mention that we had to sit on the windowsill and share a plate. And yet, what would perhaps elsewhere seem like some cruel joke from the Universe or karmic revenge for all the times you called in sick because you had a hangover, in that strange, empty flat in Brighton it was the most magical thing that ever happened to me.
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