Tag Archives: Brighton & Hove

The Whistler – December 2020

It’s officially winter. The nights have closed in, the straw hat is back in it box and coats are the season’s must-have accessory. Still, we’re out of lockdown and we’re allowed out. Remember that? Out? And if we’ve got to have a substantial meal, well that’s OK too. Lockdown’s had its moments. We’ve met people, well we’ve seen people on small screens, and as long as the West Hill quiz keeps going, so will we (even though we were robbed at the last quiz, positively robbed. Who knew what a Star bar looked like?). 

But remember, if things are hard, if you have trouble getting out and about, Lovely Vinod at Bright News is doing deliveries and helping those who need it. It’s what community’s for. 

Finally, a quick word about us going all 21st century – the website’s got a new look, there’s a new Instagram (@westhillwhistler) and Twitter (@WestHillWhistle) and a re-vamped Facbook page. You can probably guess what that’s called. It’s all very exciting.

And, as always, if you’ve got something to say, drop us a line. Join in. Life’s better that way. 

Merry Xmas / New Year. See you on the other side.


A Biba-esque emporium

An Aladdin’s Cave where Frida Kahlo sits next to beautiful vintage kimonos while Tintin and Buddha look on. Jed Novick goes in search of the Objet D’ials

I want people to feel that they’ve disconnected with the outside world and engaged with the shop when they’ve walked through the door.”

Karin Pratt is putting the finishing touches to Objet D’ials, her new art emporium. She’s at that lovely point – halfway between excited and exhausted, and I just asked her the stupidest question. What are you selling here? It all looks like Aladdin’s Cave here. Look around and… there’s Mexican the window, a row of beautiful Japanese kimonos, a Buddha, a bit of Frida Kahlo, vintage books, art, Tintin, a red velvet sofa… Everywhere your eye lands, there’s something for it to feast on.   

“When people walk in and look around, I want them to feel like they’ve gone on a journey,” says Karin. “I want people to engage with the shop. You know how many shops you walk in and then walk out, as an experience it leaves you empty. I want people to come in here – even if they don’t buy anything – I want them to feel they’ve disconnected with the outside world.”

Pushed for a description, Karin says “I want it to be an all-encompassing Biba-esque experience.” And if you’re going to have an aspiration, that’s not a bad one. 

“You just browse. There’s a café – but only a small percentage of our life is as a café. We’re going down the cafetiere or pot of tea route. We’re not doing takeaway or trying to be a café. The shop is artisan and in the summer there’ll be tables and chairs outside.” 

So let’s go back to the beginning. Who are you and how did you get here? “We live next door and this shop used to be the garage for the house. My husband has looked into the history of the house and has always wanted to put it back together, to bring it back. I’ve worked in shops (and the oil industry, and tourism and hotels…) but I’d never had a shop. I had a feeling it was going to come on the market and one day we were sitting in the garden and a friend said ‘Come here, there’s a guy in the street with a clipboard outside the shop.’ 

And you ran outside and said “Stop!”? 

“More or less.”

To anyone opening a shop in 2020, it’s the obvious question to ask, so let’s just ask it. You’re setting up a new shop from scratch, how much of a nuisance has lockdown been? “Not really that much of a problem because I knew it was coming. We’ve had a four-week turnaround – we bought it at the end of November and…” 

Hang about. Stop. You only got hold of this at the end of October? 

“Yes, the 23rd. We came straight in after getting the key and started with the paint…” 

That’s just… That’s amazing. 

“Was it longer? I’m so tired… It’s gone really quickly, I know that.” 

While it’s Karin’s shop, Karin’s idea, Karin’s dream, she’s very keen to support Sussex based suppliers for my local goods. “The idea of helping and promoting local produce and business is really important. We’re very lucky to have a shop and while it’s OK to be online, if you can have somewhere to show your goods, that can make all the difference.”

So you’ve got? 

“Well, we sell Craft House Coffee, which is based in Wivelsfield. There’s Katie’s Nuttery, who do all sorts of organic nut butters and they’re based in Henfield. We’ve got Park Farm honey, from just up the road.  J.Cocoa, the chocolatier from Hassocks, and Slice, the local Seven Dials bakery and sweetmaker.”  

And it’s not just about the small producers; there’s a place at the table for shops, too. “We’ve got stuff from ‘And More Again’ in Upper Gardener Street because they –  Penny –goes to India a lot and she’s going to have a permanent feature in the shop because she fits what I like, the vibe.”  

So are you going to expand into things like local cheeses? “My core is art, that’s what the vibe is. The heart of the shop is community, but my core is art. If we can bring those things together…”

We hear so much about the death of the high street, about big stores closing, about how people only shop online. But maybe this is what the future will look like, post-Covid when big high street shopping has recalibrated. Community-based shops that work together, that help each other, that support other local businesses. 

“There are so many lovely people here and if we can all work together we can only make everyone stronger, and have more fun while we’re doing it” 

Brighton & Hove Photographic Collection

Comtesse du Barry character in “Fete de France"
Comtesse du Barry character in “Fete de France"
QueenSpark Books has launched an online photographic collection of historic and contemporary images of the city.

This unique collection is a ‘People’s History’ of the city using images that have been collected over the last 18 months at community events, media appeals and via the Queenspark website.

Public events at the Jubilee Library, Saltdean Library, Patcham Library, Fabrica Art Gallery and Hove Library were led by volunteers and they collected some fabulous photographs, including this one showing a costumed actor at Brighton Dome in the 1930s. Fifty of the images donated by the general public also feature in a very special book offering a fascinating insight into the city’s people, places and events, both past and present. The website is a ‘live’ site, and local people are encouraged to submit their photos to the collection, which will be scanned and digitally stored.


Letters to the Whistler

Dear Editor
Thanks for letting me know about 10:10 in the last issue. I signed up right away and sent the following email to 10 of my friends via the 10:10 website – it’s easy!

Everyone’s looking for something to do about climate change. What’s needed is something straightforward, immediate and meaningful. I think I’ve found it. Today I joined thousands of individuals and organisations from across the country to unite behind one simple idea: that by working together we can achieve a 10% cut in carbon emissions during 2010. It’s called 10:10, and everyone can be a part of it. Cutting 10% in one year is a bold target, but for most of us it’s an achievable one, and is in line with what scientists say we need right now. By signing up to 10:10 we’re not just promising to reduce our own emissions – we’re becoming part of a national drive to hit this ambitious goal country-wide. In our homes, in our workplaces, our schools and our hospitals, our galleries and football clubs and universities, we’ll be backing each other up as we take the first steps on the road to becoming a low-carbon society. To find out more and sign up go to www.1010uk.org

If everyone of The Whistler’s 4000 readers sent this email to 10 of their friends, that would be 40,000 more people signed up.

Jane Sinclair, Seven Dials

Dear Residents of West Hill
On 3 November Reg Woodhouse, my Vice Chairman, and I attended a meeting of the newly formed Brighton & Hove Transport Partnership. I had been invited by Councillor Geoffrey Theobald to join the TP to represent the interests of the PPP. Several people attended, representing various interests – a Sussex Police officer, Roger French of the Brighton & Hove Bus Company, a Car Club owner, and various councillors.

The city’s needs relating to transport have to be brought up to the standards required by the Government. The aim of the TP is to achieve these standards by collating and using information from various partnerships and independent organisations. There will be concerns regarding the loss of parking bays that are being removed to make spaces to park the Car Club cars in Brighton. A recent publication suggests that nearly 1000 cars have been removed from the roads since the Car Clubs have been operating. I find this hard to believe as it would have reduced the waiting list for parking permits by the same amount, which I know not to be the case. It is more likely that people who could not afford a car in the first place are responsible for most of the hiring.

If you have queries or concerns with regard to any other matter I will do my best to answer your query. Please contact me on 07768 002328 between 11am and 6pm, or email me: Steve@system-electronics.freeserve.co.uk

Steve Percy, (chairman) People’s Parking Protest

No News is Not Good News

It makes my blood boil – the fact that Brighton & Hove is in the South East but the local TV news bulletins do not report news about Brighton & Hove. We see traffic in Southampton, news from Dorchester, Weymouth and even Oxford, but no traffic news about the A23, only the A4; we never see what happens in Patcham, let alone what is going on in nearby places. Announcements are made: “Listen for traffic reports on Radio Solent/Oxford”, neither of which is in our area. Lewes (8 miles away) and Steyning (West Sussex) get the correct local news, also, all the other transmissions in the South East miles away.

Television is surely obliged to cover the news here and around us. If not, then the licence fee money is being paid under false pretences. TV companies often have a story about Post Offices that are about to close, but none in our area is ever mentioned. I have campaigned for years, ever since the Coronation, without success.

We need news for the whole of the South East. I have been in touch with the TV transmitting companies concerned. Their reply is that I should use Blue Bell Hill or Hannington which are, of course, way out of the cachement’s signal area. I can send evidence on DVD of all this.
The lack of local news is not only confined to ITV and BBC but is also the same for teletext and Ceefax. Whatever we watch, we get no local news. Now, the Government intends to top slice the licence fee to give a substantial amount to commercial stations to pay for local news broadcasts – hopefully the future will include B&H news.

Reg Moores