a new year in an old city

January 7, 2014 § Leave a comment

Brighton. Ah. Just the word makes me happy.

I am working today in a studio above our flat, a couple of storeys up in a beautiful space overlooking part of the city. The rooftops stretch out before me, the bright sun and cloudy sky competing for centre stage. I feel separated from the city and yet intricately connected with the life of it – and it is this feeling that is inspiring words to flow.

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I want to tell you about my love of this place. There is a passion that lurks deep in the rumbling heart of it; a fierce love of life and variety, a dedicated pursuit of creativity and understanding, that is both enthralling and enraging – in equal measure. The people here do not want just enough, we want more than enough… we want spice and magic, sunshine and storms, yellow and grey. There is a decision in most that to be honest is necessary, even if that honesty is pure foolishness. There is a sense that we are all pretending. There is a hope that we are not.

The ocean rolls below me and the hills rise above me, and in between the parks are full of Christmas trees: piled high and ready for collection. On every street there is another coffee house; unique and yet desperately the same, luring in the beards and skinnies with the aroma of a strong blend. Next to the cafes are old bookshops and random barbers and second hand denim sellers. Walk along a little and you’ll find twenty vintage furniture stores – each containing a thousand histories – and in between, pubs, pubs, pubs; packed full and smelling of ale. On Friday nights everyone goes drinking, and together we feel like one community: those who have worked and have won another weekend. We walk everywhere; not needing to drive, unless it is to leave. My best friends live within 60 seconds of me closing my front door, and as such, I know they are always there – not just in spirit, but actually there.

There are as many old churches as there are pubs, and enough pubs to drink in a different one every single day of the year. People don’t have much money, but what we do have we spend on live music – the kind that changes you – and overpriced wine, and great food. I must not forget the food.

People here care – it is not praised to be stupid, rather intelligence is glorified and knowledge of the world admired. Big cars, landfill waste, overly processed foods – these things matter. As does world travel, and reading, and art, and talking.

In the summer you can wander to the beach front and find families scoffing ice cream and benches full of people drinking to the music. In the winter, the wind batters against your face as you fight your way home, but once there you are not alone: no, here it is hard to feel alone. My neighbour walks above me, whilst the man below cooks chips.. and next door I can hear the children playing. Out of my window I see bus after bus full of people making their way through their day.

{Of course, many are lonely – and therein lies most of our foolishness – but for today I am thinking about the Brighton of dreams.}

There are many reasons why I love this city, and there are many things I hate about it. I cannot tell you them all. And in the end, I know I can’t really convince you to feel the same way. But if you come, please search it out, breathe it in, and then decide. And if you never come, well, it is a shame for you my friend.

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