Newest Review: ... out from the surrounding architecture like the Taj Mahal; with its domes, curves and spires, it has been compared to a Moorish palace or ... more
Brighton in General
Member Name: lamorna
Brighton in General
Date: 17/01/01, updated on 17/01/01 (118 review reads)
Advantages: It''s Brighton.
Disadvantages: I don't live there.
The smell of squishy caramel coloured leather lingers in my nostrils to this day. The polished walnut dashboard: the steering wheel the size of a vinyl album: the stumpy gear stick with the leather knob. My brother and I are sitting behind our parents, on a cold, bright, frosty winter’s Sunday, in the back seat of their maroon 3.4 Jaguar, hurtling down the A23 dual carriageway at 100mph.
We lived in Clapham, not the trendy Clapham of now, but seedy and run down with a few bomb sites still in evidence and glamorous Teddy Boys roaming the streets in packs. We were off to Brighton, West Sussex for a day out. It was the late 1950s. If it was raining, we went ‘Up West’ to the Cinema, but on winter days like this we went to the seaside! We were excited.
Brighton was naughty then, as it is now! Our sexual education came from a sneak read of the News of the World and the Sunday Mirror, where divorce, along with the naughty Vicars, made headline news. Brighton had a sordid reputation. Divorces weren’t granted on the grounds of a breakdown of marriage. Divorce was granted for adultery.
The well heeled would arrange a weekend in a Brighton Hotel, where a willing lady, well paid for her troubles, was prepared to be in the bed of the husband in the morning when Room Service delivered the breakfast tray. Sexual intercourse didn’t have to take place, and the evidence of the breakfast waiter would suffice in Court. Any wonder that poor people stayed married? Locked in a loveless union!
Within an hour the Jaguar was parked up along the seafront, to the East of Brighton’s Town Centre. We did the same things every visit. A walk along the promenade, with my brother and I jumping over the cracked paving stones as we believed that if we missed one, we would die of a mysterious illness.
Then lunch. No themed restaurants then. A seafront Café that stayed open all year. We always had baked beans on toast and H
orlicks, as the Café had an electric whisk and it wasn’t lumpy like Mum’s. Our parents always had fish and chips, a pot of tea and the interminable after lunch cigarette, while we sat and fidgeted, longing to get going.
Along the upper promenade to the West, passing all the stylish Crescents, Terraces, Squares and streets, as our parents would gaze with desire at their elegance, at the large private enclosed gardens used only by the residents and say to each other “One day! One day we’ll live there”
Next, to the Aquarium; The eerie lighting, tanks with octopus, eels, sea horses, sea lions and strange fish; We never tired of the evidence we saw illustrating the mysteries of the deep threatening oceans and the sea beds.
The Lanes were always the next stop. Our parents would haggle with the Antique dealers for a Copper fender, a picture frame, a piece of porcelain, buying little precious objects to one day put in the house in Surrey that they dreamt of as a stepping stone to the South Coast and Brighton.
Forty years have passed by. They now live in one of those very graceful Georgian Crescents they once stood and coveted all those years ago. Lewes Crescent is one of several to the East of the newly promoted Brighton City Centre, and overlooking the splendid Marina. There are central private gardens where the residents have parties, social events and the little gem, is a tunnel that goes under the promenade and the main road, straight onto Brighton Beach, and used by the Edwardians as access for private bathing.
One beautiful summers day, a man was standing on his balcony in Lewes Crescent. He viewed the beautifully kept gardens, the handsome Marina, the boats on the horizon, the sun glistening on the still waters of the Channel, and then the eyesore!
Every imposing Listed house on the Crescent was completely smothered with ‘For Sale’ boards, entirely obliterating the fascias. Th
e majority of all these large houses in the City of Brighton are divided into separate apartments and flats. Every time an apartment was for sale, Estate Agents advertising their services attached a dozen ‘For Sale’ boards. At the peak of the house hunting season, during the Spring and Summer, one single house would have as many as thirty ‘For Sale’ boards attached, giving an impression of clutter and decay.
A conservation protest group was formed, and using the experiences of a similar fighting group in the City of Bath, they took on the Council and the Estate Agents. The consequence is, there are no more hoards of Estate Agent’s boards screaming ‘For Sale’ on every conceivable space on the streets, squares, terraces and crescents of the City of Brighton. That man was my Dad!
There is one house still intact in Lewes Crescent. Fyffe House, once the home of the Duke of Devonshire. It’s complete and original, and movingly beautiful, but in bad repair. Two businessmen have bought it, and are lovingly and painstakingly restoring the residence to its original glory. It featured in a programme ‘The House Detectives’ at the end of last year, and will eventually be open at special times to the Public. Bear that in mind when you holiday in the future.
I haven’t told you about the shops, the Attractions, the Palaces, the Pavilion, Gay Brighton, the Walks, Eating Out, Accommodation, Events, the Piers, the History and Heritage, the Pubs, the Language Schools, the Ozone levels, the Theatres, the Record Fairs, the Arts, the Crafts, the cleanliness of the beaches, the ease of access by car, train, the ferries, the people, the South Downs!
No! I don’t want to give you that…
Visit the first-rate Brighton and Hove website where they have published what I consider to be a perfect Tourist reference point. It’s full of every bit of information a visitor to Br
ighton would need. Skilfully constructed, with first class navigation and it’s left nothing out, including excellent links to other useful sites giving more advice and places of interest.
Alternatively, type Brighton West Sussex into a Search Engine and a wealth of independent websites will come up, including the Club Scene and alternatives!!!
I went to Brighton last week to see my Father. The flashbacks I experience are touching, and I ponder how very different is it now compared to then?
I still jump over the cracks in the pavement to ward off evil afflictions.