Meades

12/3/14 10:25
benicek: (sunset)
Camera Roll-89

A fuzzy iPad photo of Jonathan Meades giving a talk about brutalist architecture to the Regency Society in the spectacular music room of Brighton Pavilion. For months Jon ([livejournal.com profile] jermynsavile) and I had been as excited about this as small children going to Disneyland. There was a tense moment when Jon's tickets failed to materialise but it all turned out well in the end and we sat there in our coats at the beginning grinning at each other like idiots. Like many Meades fans, his programmes are one of the few reasons I will ever tune into broadcast TV. To those of you unfamiliar with Meades, he has created a sort of Reservoir Dogs screen persona and delivers his programmes as verbal barrages which, oddly, despite the extremely visual subject matter, are more akin to radio than television. Somewhat slower and unedited in real life he was, if anything, even more bizarre. Tiny, irritable eyes embedded in that big flaccid face it soon became evident that he was going to deliver nothing less than, verbatim, the entire script of his last two TV episodes. Spontaneous and engaging are not qualities he's bothered to cultivate and I don't suppose he needs to either. After an hour and a half of this the charming chairman of the Regency Society hesitantly placed a note on Meades's lectern which, we gathered, read something along the lines of "Brighton City Council are going to turf us out of here at 9pm." Meades froze as if in terror, but more likely rage, and then, in stony silence, turned over the last five pages of his script like sheets of lead and wound up the lecture; an episode of comic drama which Jon reckons was worth the whole £10 ticket price. There was a brief Q&A session during which I asked him if there was a better name for brutalism and he shot back "chummy, matey concrete".

Meades didn't join us for wine afterwards in the fancy kitchen with its iron columns disguised as palm trees. His loss. I found that the Regency Society is made up mostly of immensely literate, witty conversational retired people and I will make an effort to meet them again I think.
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Pier

7/2/14 17:46
benicek: (sunset)
West Pier, Brighton. Missing some more sections following the recent storm.

Another section of the ruin of the West Pier got washed away by the storm yesterday. I went to have a look today. Some people in Brighton are quite sad about this, which is quite touching when you consider that the pier barely exists at all now. They don't want their ruin ruined even more. I felt a little envious that I'm stuck in a small town inland and wasn't able to watch, free of charge, this titanic struggle betwixt nature and a great big chunk of pseudo-oriental Victorian marine engineering. 
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Toys

25/1/14 18:15
benicek: (sunset)
Brighton toy museum

At the Brighton toy museum today, which occupies a windowless vaulted space underneath the Victorian railway station. They've crammed a lot in there. Toys have evolved like living things, leaving behind dead-ends, such as the precursors of Lego: wooden or bakelite blocks that were locked or glued together. The typology of the very recent past is surprising. We discard so much innovation. Toys were a bit more dangerous and fun in the past too. Miniature ranges that cooked real food with real fire! Wouldn't that be more educational than fake plastic stuff? I liked the least spectacular 'austerity' toys the most, the 'micromodels'. These are tiny paper cutout models of historic buildings printed on postcard-sized sheets that must have been tortuous to fold and glue together. My favourite was a model of the entire old London bridge standing about 4cm high. It must have taken weeks to build and cost almost nothing.
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benicek: (sunset)


I'm maybe a little bit sad that steampunk wasn't invented when I was a teenager. Professor Elemental is a very minor Brighton celebrity who never fails to cheer me up. I hope to meet him one day. I read an interview with him in which he explained that he loves Brighton because "you can walk around dressed as a Victorian explorer without being beaten up". He also revealed that he buys his pith helmets in bulk from a supplier in the USA, because he keeps losing them. His wife and small children crop up in his videos quite often.
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I went to one of these events in Brighton the other night, presented by the towering, bearded Sanderson Jones who appears in this video. The 'service' comprised of cringe-inducing sing-alongs to 1980s pop hits followed by a reading from Pollyanna and then a highly entertaining talk on mail art focussing on the career of Victorian pioneer Reginald Bray. The biggest laugh went to a postcard he sent addressed simply to: "Any resident, London." He also posted a dog, himself-plus-bicycle and pestered Hitler continuously. This prodded an ancient memory in me. There was one day when I was four or five years old that I became fixated with the idea of posting an object, any object. I can't explain now why this possessed me, but I begged my mother to help me and eventually we found a tube from some kitchen roll and sent it to some friends. I think Mum filled it with sweets and an explanatory note to lend it more purpose but I would have just sent it as-was if I'd had my way. Poor Mum was so accommodating.
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Brighton

I bought a long lens for my camera. It's so long I hardly know what to do with it. These were my experiments yesterday....

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benicek: (sunset)
Two women nearly swept away by a wave on Brighton beach

I was on Brighton beach today and there were some big waves coming in, caused by what is left of of Hurricane Katia moving towards Britain. As I was taking photos a pair of nicely dressed women walked in front of me, out of reach (they thought) of the breakers. Then one suddenly rolled in and flattened them both.

Two women nearly swept away by a wave on Brighton beach

Two women nearly swept away by a wave on Brighton beach

Two women nearly swept away by a wave on Brighton beach

Two women nearly swept away by a wave on Brighton beach
Shortly afterwards. Wet but unharmed.
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My daughter in Brighton the other week. My friend took this picture on his phone. It was a very exciting day, the first time I'd taken the child anywhere by myself unchaperoned by mummy. She survived without being lost or trampled.

Sanctuary

3/6/07 19:13
benicek: (Default)
Attended a fabulous barbecue yesterday, sans wife and child. My friends inhabit one room in part of an early-Victorian house in Brighton. But all is not as it appears, because the house is part of a crescent which encloses a vast residents-only garden; an Eden inaccessible to the public, a car-free sun-dappled glade disturbed only by the bicycles of small children and clinking of wine glasses.

I drank too many beers and spoke to a nice couple with a ten month old baby. She was happy and entertained. She "gave me five" repeatedly. I was so pleased to see how quickly they become recognisably child-like. The parents told me not to worry, it would be upon me soon enough. Then I played with two older Zambian-German children, swinging them high in the air. One of them enquired if there was a baby inside my protruding tummy. I said no, there was not.

The bloody batteries in my camera died. But I can still show you this hidden garden, thanks to Google Earth:

UPDATE: I returned here a few days later and took some photos. I also found this small history of the street and park.


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I thought I'd try out the helter-skelter in Brighton today. It must be the oldest ride on the pier. I believe it's the same one which featured in the 1969 film 'Oh What a Lovely War' but must be much older than that. It therefore has great retro-appeal for me. Plus, it is the 'softest' thrill on offer, all the other rides being far too frightening for my sensitive constitution. Anyway, by the time I got to the top (see below) I discovered that it is much higher than it appears from the deck and the sea is a loooooong way down. I arrived at the bottom happy but shaking, much to the amusement of the Spanish attendant.

I don't understand why age does this to us. What possible evolutionary function could it serve? When I was a kid I used to ride on this thing without batting an eyelid.