Category Archives: Brighton Life

Sirena Bergman and more

Skip Kelly of Montpelier Villa Women Remembers The Important Things

The coffin was surrounded by dozens of family photos. I featured in only one,a chubby-cheeked youngster decked out in various items of clothing coloured blue and white to show our support for the Waterford hurling team in their quest to win their first All-Ireland Hurling title since 1959. He was born in 1960 and in the obituary I was listed as his son, but I never considered him my father. 

There were many facets of our relationship that you’d expect in a father-son relationship. I was the only one listed in the obituary that supported the same football team as him which often meant that our relationship rarely went beyond analysis of the most recent Leeds United result. 

“It doesn’t matter that we lost to Cheltenham Town because if we beat Scunthorpe United then we’re only 12 points outside the play-offs with 13 games to go,” I’d declare enthusiastically only to be met with some variation of “I’m still going to have to go to work in the morning.”  This humility was something that always irked me.  

When I received my Junior Certificate results, I was picked up by him and told that I was expected to work for his gardening business that afternoon. I stared blankly at the road in front of us as I could see my friends plan infinitely more exciting activities than cutting grass. It was the kind of humility that never caused me anger when displayed by Marcelo Bielsa when he famously insisted the Leeds United squad picked up litter for three hours.

I couldn’t help question why there weren’t more photos of me, but also what did I know about this man? I was given the opportunity to confront these questions sooner than I had anticipated with the arrival of early onset dementia. 

I knew he was stubborn, once falling off a ladder two stories high and breaking two ribs while painting but climbing up the ladder to finish the job before seeking any kind of treatment. 

I knew he enjoyed old western movies and although never expressed out loud did not have an affinity for the slick cowboys with their pistols but rather with the Indians and their measly weapons. I remember his frustration at being given a dream-catcher that “wouldn’t work” because it had the caricature of a chief’s head in the middle. An incredible piece of knowledge for someone to have who left school before gracing the doors of a secondary school but his lack of gratitude had annoyed me. It was the sort of knowledge that didn’t annoy me when inspired by The Last Dance. I read an array of books about Phil Jackson who used his knowledge of Native American culture to inspire his Chicago Bulls team to an incredible run. 

Although he enjoyed sports, he somehow knew his life wasn’t dictated by results in Yorkshire. I couldn’t disagree more and it was this perennial unspoken conflict that meant our conversations that were based solely on analysis of results waned and eventually disappeared. I visited him every Christmas when I went home out of a sense of duty. 

Although he remembered my name, he forgot how old I was, he forgot I moved, he forgot his siblings names, he forgot snippets of conversation that we just had and he even forgot he supported Leeds United. Hardly surprising considering he had never been to Elland Road and only owned one replica shirt which was a gift for his 40th birthday.

I realised it’s easy to attribute characteristics I admire to the likes of Bielsa and Phil Jackson because it suggests I found them and I don’t have to acknowledge the real source which was much closer to home. 

I was told my step-father passed away on a Saturday afternoon. I booked a flight that I could make that didn’t clash with the Bexhill game the following day. I’m still going to have to go to work in the morning. 

Dream-catchers don’t actually catch dreams but rather ward off nightmares, specifically from children. I never considered him my father, but that never stopped him from seeing me as his son. 

Are You Still Potty, Dotty?

It’s been a personal back patting few weeks. I’ve painted drain pipes gold, exhibited at Naked, the seafront art gallery with a golden spiral staircase and recently commissioned to complete a Tsunami wave on the side of a house, with accompanying Artist Dotty jellyfish. As I sway, splat, and splodge my brush, in preparation for an AD flourish of finality, I often ponder what an interesting green future might be for Brighton ? 

Firstly trams on the hills would certainly encourage people to socialise while in transit. Old wooden carriages, San Franciscan style. Bring your bike disco nights, powered by a local park with exercise machines. Reduced mortgage deals for proof of bicycle purchase. Ban of sales of plastic, have a plazzi bag amnesty and tie all the bags together to make tents for the homeless. 

Create a piece of art that explores the land mass of every UK food bank and the land mass of every supermarket in the UK (if joined together). Introduce the Brighton pound, which can only be used for green initiatives and works directly with local artists. Build a green cafe warehouse with easy access for the wheelchair community and run a campaign to have the word disabled removed from the Oxford dictionary. 

Make bright green the new council colour for seafront railings and use eco friendly paint. These and a million other ideas float through my head as I dangle at an angle contravening every health and safety law to complete my tsunami wave on a hilltop house. 

Hold on a minute stream of consciousness kicks in again. And last but by no means least the thought that might get me lynched on the way to the shop. Scrap all cars in Brighton and have really cool sci-fi vehicles that function for different reasons :

Vehicles specially for retail delivery 

Transport for Tradesmen … that’s right, no more parking fines,  you simply load a carriage up, that stops at your destination. 

Vehicles for anyone with mobility issues. 

Vehicles for emergency only ( high speed) .

Vehicles for retail shopping, with the option of a two tiered retail experience : 

Human interaction or Automation 

Given that all the bungeroosh buildings are sinking into the sand, knock them all down and build round eco houses as a flagship project to show off to the world. 

Have a toll to enter Brighton and all the money gets split amongst artists demonstrating a green awareness. Maybe have a recycling bin with the title Further Use on it. 

Right that’s it, time to stop waffling. What do you think ? 

Artist Dotty is considering running for Prime  Minister. Would you vote for a messy, unorganised Artist ? 

Artist Dotty is currently exhibiting at Brightons St Augustine’s church art centre

Sam Harrington-Lowe – December 2022

My friend Kath messages me. “I’m coming to your ‘hood later to get things for Stir Up Sunday,” she says. “Let’s meet up.”

Delighted as I am to see my friend, I wonder what the hell Stir Up Sunday is. Am I being invited to a thing? In the olden days, it sounds like the sort of hedonistic event we’d go to once the club shut at 6am, to carry

on dancing and getting wasted. But we’re both in our fifties now. This seems unlikely.

Obviously I can research this myself but it’s still the morning and Kath is happy to advise me. It’s the day when you make the Christmas pudding, or cake or whatever. Or possibly you give it one last stir before cooking it. Who the hell knows? I don’t. And I realise that I don’t know this because I don’t like cake, and I don’t really like Christmas.

I’m not entirely bah humbug about the whole thing. It’s nice to see people I suppose, and I do enjoy the long lunches that happen in December. And I always take time off work, so I like that bit too. And there is cheese. Cheese is possibly the best thing about Christmas. 

But the determined and competitive gaiety of Christmas decs, the enforced time spent with people – in groups! With alcohol added! And turkey. The driest, most boring bird on the planet to grace a table. Give me rib of beef, and a quiet day to actually chat to people without the madness. I’ve always preferred Boxing Day. By then everyone has run out of steam, like toddlers on sugar, and it’s a lot nicer. Plus cold meats and pickles.

My dislike of Christmas probably stems from two things. Firstly, from being neurodiverse. A room full of people, all full of beans, wanting conversation and loud Bing Crosby and pulling crackers and OH MY LIVING HELL – charades, is the stuff of nightmares. Also, I had an alcoholic and often argumentative mother, so childhood Christmases were like unexploded bombs. I can still feel that fear sometimes in a large family group, on alert, waiting for the inevitable car crash, the shouting, the tears. It’s hard to let that go.

I’m not alone in this anti-Christmas feeling. Everyone has their own take; my daughter seems genuinely to feel the same way. And I have tried to make it nice for her, I promise. She has always done her best to prevent me from doing anything ‘large’. It’s hard to argue when you don’t want to do it either.

It seems, however, that a bit like choosing not to have children, choosing not to have Christmas is becoming more acceptable, which is excellent. I have friends who hate it too. In the US, Jewish people (for whom Christmas is just another day, in a religious sense) gather in Chinese restaurants for parties, and banter, and the not eating of turkey – the Chinese being similarly uninterested in Christmas. In Japan, the big tradition is to have KFC.  I’ve seen mates employing some of these tactics recently and I applaud this.

Anyway, this year my daughter is hosting Christmas in the deepest countryside, at her place, which I am a bit excited about. She’s a sous chef at a wonderful pub, and working over the silly season. “Mum, you can sit up at the bar with Alice (the pug) and drink brandy and yak with the locals, and I’ll feed you,” she said. “And then when you want, you can just go back to the house and chill out.”

Does that sound like the magic of Christmas to you? Because it does to me. Time with the best kid in the whole world, and the dog. And no jobs to do? I’m looking forward to it more this year that possibly ever before. Cheers! And thank you my wonderful daughter.

Happy whatsit to you lot too, however you decide to celebrate (or not).

The New New Wave vs The Old New Wave – by Mick Robinson


Four gigs in one week is quite unusual for me these days, but emphasised the plusses and minuses of each act and also highlighted the differences of each band, especially the old and the new.


Here are the gigs in order;
Sham 69 Saturday in London.
Gemma Rogers Sunday in Brighton 
Working Men’s Club Tuesday in Brighton 
Stereolab Wednesday in Brighton


There were several eras covered, and so it was interesting to compare each band and where they’re at either then or now.


Sham 69, fronted by Jimmy Pursey and with the original line up from 1977, are very much a marmite band in the love or loathe stakes. Mainly due to their original followers being skinheads and violence at all their gigs at that time, followed by chart success & Pursey’s larger than life persona, the fans were passionate, but the haters had plenty of ammo to dislike. 


I loved the band at the time, but I was a punk rocker and there was trouble with skinheads everywhere and going to a gig of theirs back then… that was a definite no no for me. Back then, the kids were not united.


Fast forward to five years ago, and Jimmy had stayed a lot at Hotel Pelirocco, my place at the time. I got on well with him, something which culminated in him offering Dirt Royal, the Brighton band I managed, a support at The100 Club. They were great. It was a mixed crowd, there was no aggro, just a good rock’n’roll band, and I could finally jump in the mosh pit safely. Jimmy was born to perform and always has the audience in the palm of his hand.


Gemma Rogers penultimate gig on her UK tour for her current album, No Place Like Home, at the lovely Hope And Ruin, a great debut full of clever witty observations of everyday life with a bit of a social comment edge for good measure.


It wasn’t as busy as expected, but perhaps isn’t as well known here as she should be. She had a sore throat, but that was pushed to one side with a stunning vocal and stage performance. Like Jimmy Pursey, she’s born for the stage. She has charm, grace, panache and style in abundance, and was wildly received by her passionate fans.


Working Men’s Club hail from Yorkshire, are signed to ultra cool Heavenly Records and are loved by critics – they get all the plaudits – and are definitely on the rise to the next level of fame. A touch of the New Order indie dance crossover best describes their sound. I first saw them at The Great Escape four years ago playing to 30 people in Photomatic in Gardner Street. It was an epic performance, followed by a bigger, but also epic performance at The Latest Bar a year later, now playing to hundreds instead of 50 or so people. I personally felt the charisma and stage presence of singer Minksy was slightly lost on the bigger crowd as he’s very intense, but watch this space as they move into the next stage like Fontaine’s DC  before them.

Finally the unique perfectly crafted lounge Anglo French avant garde electronic pop sound of Sterolab (pictured). They made one of my all time faves – French Disko, an amazing pop song. If you want to check them out, it was perfectly highlighted on a YouTube clip from mid-90s TV show The Word, a clip that still sends a shiver.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IH3aQJj119Y

They sold out at Concorde 2, quite a feat at any stage of your career, and were eagerly anticipated by a crowd stroking their beards, but actually the gig fell a bit flat and me and my pal Dave, over from Australia, left early.

I like a bit of performance with my gigs no matter how innovative or arty, Jimmy Pursey gave a master class, Gemma has bundles of charisma & presence, WMC need to get back to their roots and the Lab need chairs. ✌️❤️

Burning The Clocks returns. Nadia Abbas reports

Brighton’s annual Burning the Clocks event has become a beloved tradition among residents. It’s a magical community event that marks the shortest day of the year. A few nights before Christmas the streets are filled with crowds of people carrying handmade, intricately designed lanterns. They march through town until they reach the seafront. They throw their lanterns into a blazing bonfire and enjoy a spectacular firework display to mark the end of the year.

SameSky is a local charity that organises the Burning the Clocks event. The event will start on New Road at 6:30pm on December 21st and entry will be free. SameSky expects around twenty-thousand people to attend this year. This includes children, families, artists, bands, and community groups. Robert Batson, SameSky Executive Producer, said: “There is so many cool builds that we are excited to bring to Brighton this year.” People can carry their own lanterns that they have made or purchase lantern kits from SameSky. Robert Batson, SameSky Executive Producer, said: “Some lanterns will have names, hopes, or wishes inscribed on them. Something to remember the past year.”

The event was cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic. As Covid restrictions have been lifted and we are making the transition back into normal life Burning the Clocks returns. This year its theme is ‘wild’. Robert Batson, SameSky Executive Producer, said: “It has a lot to do with the feeling of being unleashed and uncaged after two years.” SameSky artist Jo Coles designed the effigy this year, and she took inspiration from the uninhibited elements of central European cultures like the wilder men.

The event costs over £45,000 to produce, and SameSky does not receive regular funding. They rely on donations from their Crowdfunder, fundraising, and support from local businesses to enable this event to take place. Robert Batson, SameSky Executive Producer, said: “As long as we know the community is behind us and that there is support out there for this, this event is going to continue.”

SameSky works with different schools and organisations in Brighton. Robert Batson, Executive Producer at SameSky, said: “We are working with the Hummingbird Project which is a refugee group based in Sussex who have been doing tremendous work.” SameSky also works with artistic group Pebbles and The Woodcraft Folk, who try to involve families in the artistic practice.

Burning the Clocks has a long history in Brighton. It began in 1993 and its aim was to provide a cathartic and uplifting escape from the heavy commercial focus of the Christmas season. It also became a way to embrace the community as everyone could celebrate this event regardless of faith.

SameSky has created lantern kits for residents to purchase if they want to take part in the event. They are available at HISBE Supermarket, The Booklovers Store, The Book Nook, Seed ‘n’ Sprout, and Paxton+Glew.

If you would like to find out more, visit

https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/p/burning-the-clocks-2022.