Brighton captured my heart and my imagination from an early age, through film and literature, fragments of memories, a montage of images, feelings, desires. Brighton was the end of England, the end of the line, a place of freedom, basking in sunshine and otherness, the last refuge of the outcast. Once, incapacitated by a flu that I felt would surely kill me, I read Brighton Rock. Other titles followed. Dirty Weekend, Hangover Square, tatty paperbacks that smelt of damp. Brighton was England incarnate, but a gentler version perhaps. I visited often once, less in recent years. Now I feel the embers of longing of place kindle. I will return soon, invisible and unknown. I will return to this haven, to the Georgian terraces and Victorian seafront, a place redolent of vinegar and candyfloss, a place I know well, a place I feel I own. I will drink aromatic coffee and pots of tea, scones and cakes and toasted crumpets. As dusk falls I will wander on the front, watching the lights on the land from the far end of the pier, music from the slot machines its backdrop. The heady smell of Dettol and piss and hints of casual sexual encounters should one wish, louche underworlds where all is allowed, highly charged, fraught with danger. Dripping pipes and neon lights, graffiti and spying eyes. Sweet feelings of lost youth relived. I wanted to settle here once, to stake my freedom and claim my place. It feels like a second home, its streets my friends. Brighton’s buildings and their ghosts beckon, laced with golden memories of early love and teenage freedom, haunted places, seething with imagination and magic. Yes, surely I will return.
The painting above is available at https://www.artfinder.com/product/brighton-palace-pier/