I don’t get down to Brighton very often, and that’s entirely my failing; it’s a lovely city and well-deserving of its welcoming reputation. It’s one of those rare cities, right on the sea, full of life, vibrancy, and rather nice restaurants and cafes.
I had the good fortune to spend a day in Brighton yesterday with a friend of mine that coincided with the Pride March. The two weren’t mutually inclusive – we had wanted to go down to Brighton anyway, to take in the sights, but seeing Brighton Pride as well was good fun.
As you can imagine, Brighton is a busy city at the best of times, but so many more people flood into it for the day or for the weekend. Our train was packed all the way down, and Brighton Station was more than a little busy. I’ll give Southern trains their due – and that’s not something you’ll hear people say very often – they had the station well-organised and coordinated. There was no chaos or mayhem, just well-organised Brits doing what they were told to get into the town centre easily.
My friend Di and I had a stroll down the hill and onto the sea front, but with a couple of detours; within half an hour, we’d managed to become suitably garlanded and decorated, and were actually at the calmer end of the spectrum, to be honest.
After a planned visit to the i360 – what a brilliant way to spend half an hour; I wish it could have been longer to appreciate the scenery – Di and I wandered up to the start point of the Pride march in Hove and shouldered our way to the front. Well, maybe “shouldered” is the wrong word, but we were soon at the front of the line right at the start, which certainly gave us a good view of everything coming past.
It was certainly an experience, seeing the colour, the diversity, and the passion behind the march; everyone seemed genuinely excited to be there, and I couldn’t detect even the slightest hint of trouble anywhere en route – even if we did see police offices with armed sub-machine guns in the city centre. That was scary in itself; I’ve seen armed police in London, which I can understand more to a degree, but never in Brighton before. Inevitably, the tight security helped the atmosphere go as smoothly as it do.
I admired everyone in the procession for being so willing to stand up and take an active part, and I admired everyone in the procession line up for being such an active part of the day. There were so many families there and such a wide age range – from kids to OAPs and everything in between – that it’s impossible now to really think that being part of a spectrum is part of a new wave of something; the spectrum has always been there, but just so often hidden away in the background. Now it’s front and centre, and that rather makes me happy.
We spent an hour an a half at the parade and, thankfully, the weather stayed bright and clear. Di and I spent the rest of the day drinking in the atmosphere of a heaving, celebrating Brighton – I was sad that some of the parks had been turned into a “payment-only” area and that tensa barriers were restricting our movements round a few streets, but they’re minor quibbles in the grand scheme of things.
Di and I went round the Lanes, took a walk all the way through the other side of Hove, and then walked all the way along to the end of the pier before adjourning to a favourite restaurant of mine, Terre a Terre. If you’re ever in Brighton, go there.
It was a fully, active day that kept us active, and we ached a lot by the time we found ourselves on the train home, but fulfilling? Absolutely. To spend the day in a city of inclusivity, friendship, and alliances was a pleasure and a joy as always. Brighton, you did yourself proud as always.