Brighton Life

Dame Hermione Leigh-Rant

Pizza Girl is currently away completing her regeneration of St Leonards-on-Sea. In this edition we welcome new West Hill Road resident and guest gossip writer, Dame Hermione Leigh-Rant D.F.L.

Phew! What a special super, sizzling, sun-soaked summer it has been. Over in sweet little St Leonards-on-the Sea Pizza Girl and her house guest Biggins have had whole beaches to themselves virtually, but give me the tumultuous heady whirl, the raucous racy riot of hedonistic happy hubbub of the West Hill Dials. The Brighton mantra to be seen and be seen has never been more evident, as I sit sipping my triple thick avocado cocktail outside Foggs-Rat and Trumpet-Couch Bar-Compton Arms. We salute the terrifically tattooed and tanned who process past like catwalk predators.

This will be my new favourite corner to people-watch. From here I can see the comings and goings of the trendinista Tin Drum cognoscenti, eating their flavoursome portions of field-to-plate specialities; or the refined after-meal Blenio sophisticats intensely drawing smoke into their scarred lungs with a satisfaction and fulfilment only matched by the satiating taste experience of a crème brulée. To my right, Cafe Lyons flies the flag for the last remnants of bacon and egg culture; and, next door, the sentinel purple of Moorish hosts to mysterious Moroccan delights of tangy tangines.

This cute, culinary cornucopia that is our beloved Dials capriciously continues its culinary-world catering convention. Thai to the left and the right, Sudanese Pizza, Szechuan Chinese and Kebabylon Hallal all straight ahead, and all spectacularly flanked by the Duke of Sandwich, Japanese noodles and tooty fruiting Anglo Italian. Outside of Paris, Istanbul and Oxford, and perhaps London and also, perhaps, New York and Toledo, where else could you experience such foody festival fun on your doorstep? Not even dire, tired, windswept Preston Street in its calorific hey day could match the ambivalent ambience of our wonderful homey inner city ghetto of tasty treats.

We may eulogise but why not? Let’s sing out, let’s praise style and innovation: the Grape and the Grain, the Spar, and the Dog Grooming Parlour of yesteryear, our Pubs and Insurance shops, post offices and posture chair suppliers. Hair by Yvonne and the dividend of not one, but two, Co-operative supermarkets. We have the architecture, the heritage and pound-swelling proximity to the station, London, Marks and Waitrose and, of course, the sea and KFC. Oh, the sea. Brighton’s raison d’être; our lung and our bowel; our horizon and our memento Kodak. Citizens of the West Hill Dials, I salute you all, one and all, and everyone to a woman and some men. Let’s rise up and fight to regain our rightful place on this year’s Guardian Cappuccino Index, (out next month). Celebrate our community because our community deserves new contemporary street lighting and street sculptures. Don’t let us be forgot lest we forget them and property prices stop their spiralling, effervescent cork-popping, fizz-bang for your buck journey to cloud nine. We are Little London-by-the-Sea and that is the way we want it to be.

Now as the nights draw in, our satiated bellies turn to the cosseted comfort of our stuccoed drawing rooms, where we sleep safely in the protective breast of our Green MP. We await new seasonal delights to adorn our pedicured muscular frames; Xmas lighting spectaculars; winter sales at local Fenwicks and Heals and, of course, chestnuts around a newly opened and restored gas fired open hearth. As I type, the leaves prepare to fall, crisp and golden and red and some yellow ones onto to the ground. The larks and robins, along with Pizza Girl, will have long flown to Marbella and Sitges on their journey into the warm heart of the sun. All is peaceful, all is calm, and even the local eateries have launched new, special, seasonal, locally-sourced menus. Go forth and enjoy. Hosannah Bongo.

Pizza Girl is back next edition, order your copy now.

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