The Whistler – March 2010

Brighton Pier viewed from West Hill

Spring into West Hill

As the sound of anniversary congratulations to Vinod and Meena of Bright News fades, citizens of West Hill have been giving their support to Stephen Anderson of Buckingham Road who is taking part in the Brighton Marathon on 18 April in aid of Cancer Research UK. He is dedicating the run to his mother, Barbara, who died from cancer last year and to numerous friends and colleagues who have suffered from this disease. He’s raising money and a sponsorship form is in Bright News or donations can be given via the website

On 26 March, The Whistler’s Finance writer, David Foot, is walking from Southampton to Wembley to watch Southampton Football Club playing in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Final against Carlisle FC on 28 March. He will walking in aid of the “Everyman” prostate and testicular cancer charity, and is also looking for sponsorship. Visit and make a donation there or write to The Whistler if you’d like to sponsor him. Every little helps.

The AGM of the West Hill Community Association for 2010, at which the accounts will be adopted and officers and committee will be elected, will be held on Tuesday 27 April at 7.30pm at West Hill Hall. All nominations for the committee must be seconded and have the written consent of the nominee. Our constitution’s first objective is: to promote the benefit of the inhabitants of the area, without distinction of gender, sexuality, or political, religious or other opinions. The business of the meeting will be followed by an always-popular Quiz, set and presented by David Perrett. Refreshments and bonhomie free.

Communities are good for the spirit, and given a degree of nurture, will continue to flourish, just like the wild life garden at the West Hill Hall, which will need volunteer helpers again this Spring and Summer to keep it alive and thriving.

Bright News Celebrations

On a wet Sunday in February (name one, any one) many friends and customers of Bright News gathered to wish Vinod and Meena Mashru a happy 25th Anniversary. We saluted the establishment of a bright and wonderful corner of Brighton convenience and conviviality. The afternoon of jolly celebration reflected the twenty five years of the Mashrus at the heart of the West Hill Community.

Bright News Celebrations
Bright News Celebrations Photo by Howard Davies

When the crowds had left, I asked Vinod to tell me where it had all began. He came to England in 1982 to explore commercial opportunities for his family textile business, based in Bombay. He spent two years travelling back and forth between Britain and Bombay until the day he met Meena at a function at Brent Town Hall in 1982. It was love at first sight and he was soon introduced to her family, who were based in Tunbridge Wells. Reluctantly, he returned to Bombay to carry on working in textiles, but he remained in touch with Meena. No Skype or email in those days – they became firm long-distance telephone friends, so much so, that Vinod even proposed to Meena over the phone. Vinod moved over to England on the understanding that they would not necessarily stay here for ever.

Vinod and Meena
Vinod and Meena Photo by Mark Baynes

They married in August 1984 and started to look for a business to run together in Brighton. They managed to find a small, run-down newspaper shop in Buckingham Road next to an off licence and Alf’s the grocer, and the rest, as they say, is history. Bright News opened on 18 February 1985 and in 2004 Vinod and Meena expanded next door into the off-licence space and continued to build up their range of magazines, everyday, organic and fresh foods. They always had oodles of charm.

Letters to The Whistler

Dear Editor
Through your Letters’ column, I should like to express my shock and dissatisfaction with the decision of the Council’s planning committee to refuse permission to Community Base, a unique organisation in the town centre, offering office accommodation to charity groups, to use its large ugly wall as advertising space. The site is a prominent spot on the route from Brighton station to the city centre and sea front. Although planning decisions may only be made on the information known and according to conscience, not on political or financial grounds, the committee heard several times of the Tories’ disgust that this site had been used to display a Green Party poster. That, and the fact that the Tory councillors forced a decision on the Green and Labour members, who were in favour of granting the application would seem to make it clearly a political decision. What price conscience now?
Iris Gardener, Seven Dials

Dear Residents of West Hill

The Council is now in the process of producing guidance pamphlets to advise on Permits, PCNs, Blue Badge Holders, and general parking in Brighton & Hove. A site visit is planned to try and rectify issues of confusing signs and lines that have been raised by shopkeepers and motorists in the Melville and Dyke Road area. The Dropped Kerb problem is an on-going subject of discussion between the Council and our team. They are trying to convince us that the parking bays outside the drive-in access to people’s homes in Wilbury Avenue and other areas is perfectly legal. It cannot be legal to prevent use of the driveway into your own house by allowing vehicles to park across your access using Pay and Display. I will take this up with the Assistant Sustainable Transport Manager, Mark Prior, at the next meeting of The Transport Partnership.

The change of double yellow lines back to single ones is a possibility in certain areas but might need the local Ward Councillor to speak to residents of the affected areas about this. Personally, I do not think that it should be an issue requiring a petition as the residents did not ask the lines to be changed in the first place. They were not consulted on this matter and should not have to ask for them to be reinstated. As there is a lack of disabled bays, the only option to use a Blue Badge for an overnight stay is a single yellow line. If you park on a double yellow line with a disabled Blue Badge you have to move it to a different area every three hours. Not very practical for anyone, let alone a disabled person. Extended hours of operation for the permit bays is something the Council is not prepared to change without the consultation of residents and their Ward Councillor. The local Ward Councillor, Pete West, will also be at the Transport Partnership meeting. I will speak to him about the issues and report back to you in the next issue of The Whistler. Please contact me with your queries and problems via our new email address or call me on 07768 002328 between 11am and 6pm.
Steve Percy, (chairman) PPP

Pizza Girl’s St Leonard’s Diary

PG is presently NON DOM whilst on secondment to Hastings Borough Council where she is using her expertise and dynamism to support the regeneration of St Leonards by the Sea. Her trusty house guest Biggins, as usual, is at her side.

March 11 
Moving my third home to St Leonards by the Sea has probably, definitely been one of the best decisions I have ever recently made. It’s as if St Lens was waiting for me to arrive. Jointly we are as one, together, partners just like Tintin and Tonto. I had absolutely no pre-conceptions about St Lens I hadn’t even heard of it other than from the non-award winning Gordon Busbridge TV ads. I guessed it would be a spiritual, tranquil seaside retreat but ‘oh contraire’ my life here has been a social whirl from the Get-Go. I have viewed, been schmoozed, and ‘canaped’ around more new galleries and private openings than I could ever have dreamt of. Advising galleries comes so naturally to me. As usual, I was in terrific demand.

March 16
Norman Road is surely the best kept shopping secret this side of Bexhill and the other side of Dungeness. A gorgeous eclectic mix of stylish, practical, weird shops that Brighton would die for. I also adore the adjacent Kings Road too, as well also. Apparently, it has just been modernised, but the planners have  managed to retain an impressive, authentic down-at-heel 1960s Notting Hill ouvre. I can hardly wait for those barmy summer evenings promenading with my weekend celeb house guests. The likes of Ramsay, Bragg and Clary will go mad for the earthy charms of this darling thoroughfare. This is authentic 70s Seven Dials nostalgiaville wonder and the rumour of a Tin Drum opening ices the biscuit.

March 18

As a top Staffordshire Bull Terrier breeder myself, as I sit serenely sipping my double brewed tea outside Kings Road’s Little Lil’s Café, I feel like I’m in paradise. Died and gone to cloudnine. Surely, this is the Staffee capital of the world? A trophy dog catwalk watching nirvana of a place. The Council really should promote these assets more. I will raise this in my monthly text report to them.

March 20
From knowing no one, within days I have got to know everyone; well, to be exact, everyone has got to know me. A friendlier, earthier, exciting place there couldn’t be, you can forget Hove.

March 21
Housemate Biggins has settled better than I had possibly hoped for, he has joined the local Pimped Bike Chapter, developed a healthy appetite for Doner Kebabs and has made friends with some ‘local characters’. Biggins meets his new bestest chums every day at the sea-front shelters where they are mostly engaged in research for the Hastings Observer’s Guide to Super Lagers. They are writing a sixteen page pull-out supplement. Biggins’ evenings are spent at the Robertson Road Kebab Hut where he recently appeared in a Police CCTV ‘training’ film.  I am so happy the move has been so positive for him. Ever since he got back from the jungle, Biggins has tended to live under my shadow’s laurels, as well as in my home.  Biggins says he is almost a local now and at only £147,300 for a four bedroom three reception Victorian house he might even stay. (You can’t even get a West Hill studio for that.)

March 22
My own nine bedroom seafront home, given to me by Hastings Council, is looking amazing. I didn’t even need to send to London or Brighton for all my hand-made wallpaper and interior designer needs. A nod from moi meant many artists have already followed, de-camping here and buying up derelict pubs and empty shops to set up workshops.
They really are true fine arty regenerist pioneers. These DFLs (Down from London) and OFBs (Over From Brighton) are the exciting new breed of St Leonardatonians, true cappuccino culturians. Real exploratory, regeneration foot soldiers. What’s more, for each new Hackney, Hoxton and Brighton arrival, I earn hefty Arts Council cash bonuses. For me it’s win, win, win here on the regenerative front line.

March 28 
A wonderful, fantastic, marvelous, brilliant, extraordinary first St Leonards’ month. My only regret is that I have only been able to actually spend five whole days here so far, and have officially just one month left on my contract. I have an inevitable hunch that as part of their sustainable development, regeneration, neighbourhood renewal strategy, the local council will be begging moi to stay! Secretly I’m missing the West Hill Dials so very much, but this is important work and little St Leonards by the Sea needs me so desperately.

Pizza Girl’s work in St Leonards is sponsored by the South East Development Agency (SEDA), Hastings Borough Council (HBoC), The Arts Council (TAC), The British Library (TBL) and the Caravan Club of Great Britain. (CCLGRTBRTN).

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

Brighton Life

Sirena Bergman
Sirena Bergman

The other day I woke up to the sound of rain pounding down on my window. I opened the curtains and examined the sky in the hope that a speck of blue might instil some hope in my outlook for the day. That was when I saw a lonely white wooden chest of drawers which had been abandoned outside the Adrian Robbins furniture shop in Guildford Road. I quickly enlisted a Helpful Man to drag the heavy drawers into my bedroom. However, as soon as it was there I knew it was too big to fit in the room without making it look like the Ikea warehouse for odd furniture. Unfortunately, I was in love. I spent the rest of the day re-arranging every one of my belongings in order to accommodate the new addition, and as I did so I began to realise how few of my things I’d actually bought in a shop. I have a bookcase that I found in the street at Seven Dials; a mirror that I bought for £2 at a car boot sale; a 1970s record player with a matching amp and speakers that was lovingly assembled for me via eBay, Snooper’s Paradise and various charity shops with huge, dusty vinyl collections. Then there are my ornaments and paintings – my happy stuff – which seem to somehow draw me in to the perfect place at the perfect time. And don’t even get me started on my books. At a birthday party the other day a friend asked me where I bought my bag and I told her it was yet another charity shop purchase. She looked bewildered and said: “Every time I ask you where you got something you say a charity shop but whenever I go in there everything is ugly and smells bad.”
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