It wasn’t quite the Brighton I once knew, tossing pennies willy-nilly in the amusements no longer appealed to me.
Suddenly I was viewing Brighton through different eyes; a city I’d once been familiar largely because of its well-known pier was now a city swarming with quirky locals. It was disappointing when someone’s hair wasn’t glowing green or pink, I’d quickly warmed to the funky dress code.
Our trip to Brighton commenced with the inevitable fish and chips by the sea and a breezy walk on the pier, I lost at least five pounds worth of change tossing bean bags at old baked bean tins and lit someone’s fag.
Before visiting Brighton I was given the impression that it was a good place to visit, or even live but so far I was yet to feel the attraction for a twenty two year old.
We wondered through the town centre gazing at shops parading more hipster gear than Johnny Depp’s wardrobe. I was stopped at least several times walking through the centre
“Hi mate, you into grime? You should check my CD.”
“Hello there, I saw you looking; can I have five minutes of your time?”
It got to the point that I actually felt bad for not stopping, so eventually I was drawn in by their forceful approach, a documentary film named ‘the mark’ was dropped into my hand
“How much do you want for it?”
To which he replied: “However much you’re willing to give?”
I chucked him a pound and received a very conspicuous stare, he seemed less than happy. After chatting about the film I’d noticed these street sellers were becoming the main attraction of my trip, though I looked past the obvious friendliness as a tool of pocketing a few coins from a stranger and took some interest.
A few seconds later I passed another chap selling the same film, I showed him mine as I passed, just to show that I’d already nabbed one. He shouted out
“Good man, hope you enjoy it.”
It reminded me of uni a couple days before fresher’s week, walking from one side of town to another ending with enough leaflets to make several trees.
A break had to be taken; I stopped in a music shop on the high street and took a gander at the folk music, something I’d recently taken an interest in.
I found myself ear wigging a conversation between the shop owner and a guy sporting some next to new Chelsea boots and a guitar strapped over his shoulder, almost like John Lennon had just shown up.
He was trying to promote his band by dropping a few business cards around.
The shop owner was quick to respond, as though he’d dealt with the same situation a number of times before
“Seriously mate there’s over a hundred and twenty clubs and bars in Brighton, just pop in there and I’m sure you’ll get something.”
They ended up getting into a deep conversation about cool places to host live gigs; I heard a number of locations, pubs, bars, rooftops, catacombs, even a bus.
I must have walked a couple metres out of the shop before passing a couple of guys playing ukuleles. I noticed someone giggling as he loitered past, as the guy belted out the chorus of Wonderwall. I had to give some admiration though, it’s a brave day job, bashing out a ukulele and hitting at least twenty chords in front of thousands of passersby isn’t my idea of fun.
A couple of words were exchanged between the singer and the passerby as they decided to take a break.
An empty guitar case holding a good sum of cash lay open as the guys took a breather, I added to the treasury as I stopped to ask a few questions.
“We just play in the street whenever it’s busy, now the festival’s on it’s a wicked time; we get students, pub owners and all sorts of people giving us cards and exchanging numbers.”
Tom answered my queries; it was interesting to see how these musicians fare in cities like Brighton. Obviously it’s a vibrant city and a relatable audience for musicians.
The other guy called James butted in and explained that Brighton was their favourite place, over London, Birmingham and Bristol
“It’s fun here, people stop and have a little sing or dance sometimes, although sometimes you get some idiots that just laugh and see us as a street act, opposed to an actual band.”
“But that’s what you are,” I said?
He laughed and said
“Yeah specifically we are playing in the street but were not street performers.”
At this point I’d lost the ambition to speak, I felt as though I’d touched on a deep subject. We passed more shops, added a few incense sticks to the pocket for a small price, an Indian guy literally shoved them into my hand and demanded payment.
A guy wearing a dragonfly drifted by, it was stood up by a few sticks coming from his bag but literally resembled the size of a dragon above his head; I was officially dumbfounded until a caterpillar then shot by.