Wellsbourne Society: talk, film, slideshow, nude man and 3-legged dog (training for para-Crufts?)
The inaugural Wellsbourne Society event in The MusicBar last night was a very ‘Brighton’ affair. A dark cellar bar, crammed with people of indiscriminate age but all young of mind, to watch a talk, poem, film and slideshow – all dedicated to the history of Brighton. How ‘Brighton’ is that?
First up Mathew Clayton, sporting a greying quiff, lit by a strong blue spotlight that made him look half-Avatar, half 50s rocker– a good look by the way. Mathew entranced us with his tale of Brighton’s secret river, mentioned in the Doomsday Book, now gone underground but occasionally erupting to cause chaos, as in 1705 when the whole of South Street and its inhabitants were washed away and again in 2000, with the Argus headline ‘Floody Hell!’. Mathew has a lovely lilt which flowed soft and deliberate, like the river he so clearly loved.
A documentary by Brighton’s then ‘Theatre Critic’, Jack Tinker, about a lost Brighton, was actually about him and his little theatre clique. His now quaint BBC accent, name dropping and clear distain for anything NOT to do with the ‘thaaaaitur’ turned out to be a great comic interlude. No mention of Max Miller
For me the highlight was Peter Crisp’s delightful slide show. Peter has lived in Brighton since 1976 and was one of the first people I met when I moved here. He took us back to the real Brighton I moved to in the early 80s, a shabby, seaside town full of old shops, greasy spoons, and great little run-down pubs. Keith Waterhouse wrote a wonderful piece comparing Brighton with Edinburgh, my home town. He saw Edinburgh as being a city of architecture and Brighton a city of people. But there’s delight in these little nook and cranny shops and pubs. The real Brighton is on a small scale, like a miniature, model village, narrow twittens, small houses in the lanes, peculiar niche shops , the narrow pier and little corner pubs. Peter photographs these but more than this he goes inside and knows the people. I know of no one who gets out more than Peter – he’s a Brighton legend as ‘man about town’ but he’s one of the nicest people you’re likely to meet and curious about everything, and I mean everything.
Lastly, Dr Bramwell gave us a verbal tour of the Brighton he knows, bringing to life the Steine, it’s fountain but above all the presence of the sea. He told of hands being chopped off from hanging victims and murders to be sold to criminals who used them as charms. This is a side of Brighton I hope to hear more of, it’s violence, drugs and trunk murders. So thanks to Dr Bramwell for his event (co-hosted by M Clayton).
As we stumbled out of the dark cellar into Manchester Street, we could see the sea lit by the lights of the Palace Pier and the huge, new Ferris Wheel. St James Street pubs were loud and raucous, a nude man was exercising from his top floor flat in full view and we passed a drunk Scot with a three-legged dog (in training for the Para-Crufts?. It all looked rather wonderful, as indeed it is.