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Editorial: Why Pride is like a shark

There’s a curious thing about sharks. Sharks must always move forward. Their gills – the way they breathe – are designed in such a way that if there’s no forward motion, they don’t work. So they must move forward. The only shark that doesn’t move forward is a dead shark. And who wants to be a dead shark?

Brighton Pride is something to be proud about. It’s one of those things that makes Brighton what it is, one of the reasons we live here. But everything changes, and rather like Glastonbury, the world is divided between those who say “Oh, it’s not like it used to be” and those who, for their own reasons, are happy it’s there. 

Pride began here in 1972, a demonstration by The Sussex Gay Liberation Front… Don’t worry, we’re not going to go into the history of Pride – that’s what Wikipedia’s for – but suffice to say it’s very different now. A weekend wristband to the St James’s Village Party is £27.50, a ticket to “We Are Fabuloso” at Preston Park to see Christina Aguilera is £54.50 – £67.50 if you get the weekend pass. Of course, it’s not like it used to be.    

Politics and commercialism are uneasy mates. They’re often suspicious of each other. Must it be that way? Must money ruin the spirit? At the first Pride here there were 2,000 people. This year there’ll maybe be half a million. Has Pride strayed too far from its roots and become another party on the calendar, next to Fatboy on the Beach and whatever else? 

Should all the acts be gay? I remember how Live Aid was criticised for being too white, for having no African bands. If we were raising money for Africa, the argument went, should we not have been celebrating African music and culture instead of listening to a lot of white chart acts? But a lot of money was raised, a lot of people were helped. So should all the artists be gay? Or are we celebrating togetherness, celebrating being us? 

Nothing is ever the same as it was. Life, like the shark, always moves forward. And Pride, just like Glastonbury and the others, just gets bigger, gets more popular, becomes mainstream, part of a wider culture.

None of this is to say that we should think the battle’s won, that the story is over, that that was then and this is now. The battle’s never really won. It never stops. We only have to look at the resurgence of antisemitism under the last Labour leadership to know how fragile our safety is. We’re safe now, but we should never forget that living in Brighton in 2022 is a privilege, that we’re just lucky enough to be born into a time and place where glitter’s not a crime. 

Maybe we should just enjoy how great is it that half a million people can come and celebrate together, drink together, dance together. How great that the only murder is gonna be is on the dancefloor. And you’d better not kill the groove DJ, gonna burn this goddamn house right down… 

View From The Hill – Nicholas Lezard

How did you spend the Great Heatwave of 2022? I spent it paddling in the sea and running contraband over the Brighton-Hove border. I’ll start with the sea. It’s slightly less traumatic.

The thing is, that although I have been coming here since 1984, in the very week the IRA blew up the Grand (golly, I thought, is Brighton always this interesting?), and living here since 2018, I have never been in the sea here. Well, maybe once. But the memory is confused and dim and I might be imagining it. This time, though, I really did. 

I took off my shoes and socks, rolled my trousers above the knee, and stepped into the surf. It was about half past nine in the evening, and the breeze, such as it was, was coming from the North, that is, from the parched interior of the country. 

There were still plenty of people on the beach, at least one barbecue I could see, and, of course, bongo players. Did you know that the council hands out free bongo drums to everyone who moves here? I’ve yet to claim mine, but I think that’s rather charming.

One of the reasons I have always been reluctant to swim here, apart from the fact that the sea is incredibly cold, is the beach. I have lovely, delicate feet, and their soles are sensitive, so walking barefoot on the shingle is not one of life’s great experiences. 

I had been hoping that in the 38 years since I first came here, the action of the waves might have done something to turn the stones into sand, but it quite simply hasn’t happened yet. I mean, come on.

But then again … it kind of has. Go out at low tide and you’ll find that it actually is a bit sandy on the shore. (Incidentally, it took me half a century to realise that the singer Sandy Shaw’s name was a pun.) So I paddled around a bit; the water was Mediterranean-warm. That was a big surprise. But after a while there’s only so much paddling you can do before getting tired so I went back up the beach and lay down in a damp patch of stones, which was very welcome. 

Isn’t it nice how the beach slopes in such a way as to make a kind of natural divan or sun lounger? I had a smoke and looked at the lights of the Rampion Array blinking on the horizon. 

A dog ran around like crazy, at one point even kicking a couple of stones onto my head but he hadn’t done it on purpose so I took no offence. 

I knew I had a hill to climb when I turned for home, but somehow the knowledge that it was warm enough to sleep on the beach if I wanted made it all better somehow. God, living in this town is a privilege. And my stories of smuggling bongoes into Hove will have to wait for another day. 

Summertime by Amara Baldwin

Summertime!

It’s Summertime, it’s summertime,

It’s time to have ice lollies with lime!

Ice cream , ice creams everywhere,

Melting, dripping, we don’t care! 

Something humid in the air,

People tying back their hair,

Into the sea,

Come on friends, come play with me!

Jump off the paddle board, swimming free! 

We are all as happy as can be!

After school , let’s go and play, 

After a hot, angry, tiresome day,

“Let’s go on the swings!” my friends say,

So how do I reply?

OK! 

West Hill Writers – The Write Stuff

Just around the corner from the Seven Dials, down a narrow, hidden driveway, West Hill Hall plays host to one of the city’s most successful writing groups. The West Hill Writers have gathered these past few years to nurture voices and narratives and now they’ve gone public.


With much fanfare, they recently published “Brighton & Beyond”, a rich anthology of short stories featuring the city in all its complex glory, from 18 talented local authors. Relatable family and friendship dynamics mingle with dark folklore and fantasy. Queer perspectives and scathing social critiques rub shoulders with comedy, romance, historical fiction and magic realism. Animals play startling roles, and somehow, not one, but three distinctive takes on a circus emerge.


Anna Burtt, director of publishers West Hill Writers, said, “I am really proud of “Brighton & Beyond”. It’s a diverse collection of riveting reads and I’m sure there is something in there to be enjoyed by every avid reader, especially those who love Brighton.”


Authors include Ciar Byrne, Jane Crittenden, Kathleen Ford, Giacomo Gambone, Hilary Howard, Duncan Robert Illing, John Keenan, Pippa Lewis, Kate Marsh, Damian McCarthy, Becs Pearson, Paula Seager, J.E. Seuk, Fran Swaine, Mona Walsh, Maggie Winters, Sue Wood and J.E.C. Young. The very Brighton book cover, features an ice cream cone, and was designed by Patrick Knowles.


The WHW inspire each other through regular sessions with locally-based Anna Burtt who is head of events at Jericho Writers, hosts the Brighton Book Club on Radio Reverb, and is the director of the York Festival Of Writing. They create short stories, flash fiction, creative nonfiction and poems set in Brighton throughout the UK and around the globe, not to mention the past, present and speculative future.


The book launch for Brighton & Beyond was held in the Nightingale Room at the Grand Central Brighton, at the bottom of West Hill, and was a busy affair with books selling fast. Brighton & Beyond can be seen displayed on the shelves of books shops across the city.


They say everyone has a book in them, but here in West Hill, we’re proud to be home to a plethora of really accomplished writers and we wish them all success!


You can order the book direct at:
https://westhillwriters.carrd.co
or from book shops across the UK


There are still places available on the next West Hill Writers course – see linktr.ee/BTNBOOKCLUB

Gull About Town: August

The Gull has been flying too close to the glare of Brighton’s best hot spots this summer, and spotted some shiny new openings. The cackle about the latest Ivy Asia on Ship Street was so loud that your Gull had to swoop down for a better look. She was dazzled by the green onyx floors and lush Chinese fabrics, that wow approach to décor and colours that pop along with the champagne and have become the signature of The Ivy group.  

But regular readers will know that this bird has an eagle eye for any glitter that is not gold, and is very particular about knowing the source of the meat she eats. No self repecting Gull is going to eat anything other than a happy pig or carefree cow. 

She’s asked for the sourcing plicy at this culinary stable – The Ivy, Cote and Bills, as well as the Soho House group which has recently opened its Beach House in Madeira Drive – and despite pecking away for answers, she’s still waiting. And until she knows, she’s keeping her beak shut. 

Perhaps the cackle was actually for Pizza Pilgrims, the latest foodie landing, also in Ship Street. Brothers, Thom and James Elliot’s passion for proper dough had them dropping their careers in advertising and TV back in the 20teens to bring a little Naples to London, planet friendly style.  The Gull was brought up on tales of high flyers, and remembers fondly her nest-time story about Great Uncle Giovanni and the two young men who flew to Naples and drove back to London in a tuk tuk on a pizza pilgrimage to do the right thing for the planet. Their charcuterie comes from Cobble Lane Cured Farm in London where our animal friends have had the best of lives, they minimise waste throughout the food system and grow their basil hydroponically with Harvest London, saving 350,000 food miles a year. They even use wild farmed flour to fix the nitrogen into the soil and produce super tasty, gut and planet friendly flour for their pizza dough.  Their sustainable story has become a favourite among gulls in London, Oxford and now Brighton, where the cool young birds are already gathering to borrow a little eco-Italian style before a night on the tiles.

Kenny Tutt’s another chef who’s doing the right thing by the planet, and you can ensure a properly sourced feed anywhere he pops up. The MasterChef 2018 winner hops about more than your regular gull on a hot tin roof and has just enjoyed an Ox Block residency at the Lord Nelson pub in Trafalgar Street.  If you missed his signature Sussex 40-day aged sirloin steak, you can pop along to Shelter Hall on the beach, and he’ll be at the first Pub in the Park at Preston Park from 16-18 September

There’s a lot of cawing among the gullerati about the new restaurant putting the final touches at Tutto, the latest restaurant from the team behind Burnt Orange, The Salt Room and The Coal Shed. We gulls believe you can never have too many Italian leftovers in Brighton’s bins, and Tutto’s promise of linguine alle vongole and duck ragu has the Gull Massive lining up on top of this airy banking hall which opens on the edge of the North Laine this month.  

Just down the road on Baker Street, a curious aroma of coal-cooked Japanese had your Gull cocking her head for a better sniff. Hitting a thermal, she zoomed along to Bonsai Plant Kitchen for a peck at the small plates and bao burgers, and even had a little groove to the Japanese techno thrilling the cool students in this new quarter of Univille.

But at the end of a balmy evening, why bother with anything other than fish?  As the Gull headed home to West Hill, she couldn’t resist another thermal lift to Church Road in Hove. This is where the more discerning gulls are already forming an orderly queue at the new Catch and Grill where fresh seafood platters and daily catch specials are proper Gull-centric fare.  Sufficiently sated, it was time for a swift half at local favourite, The Farm Tavern. Caw, what a difference! The team behind BRAVO 2022 Best Local winner, The Geese has teamed up with Brighton’s best wine cellar, Butler’s on the drinks menu to bring an excellent night to the Brighton/Hove border.  More news to come!

As your Gull perched on her nest, she looked down over Brighton and Hove and nodded in approval at the rich pickings the city has to offer. Head under wing, she drifted off to the sound of tourism pinging the tills of this plucky little place.