Just back from a weekend in Brighton. I've been going there off and on for the last 12 years and was visiting a couple of friends who live there, including my ultra-extroverted journalistic friend. I used to really love Brighton and wanted to live there in my 20s - unlike many British seaside towns it has stayed contemporary and cosmopolitan, with a diverse range of people, making it feel a bit like London-on-sea. There is also a huge gay population and when I was doing my PhD I visited it a lot, interviewing some of the older members.
But on this visit it all seemed a little tarnished. The town centre was dirty and a lot of the people looked worn out - the kind of grey, drawn faces you eventually get if you smoke pot and regular cigarettes all the time, stay up all night and don't bother with sunscreen. I've only ever seen faces like that in two other places - Amsterdam and Camden. There were lots of flakey yet assertive people with tattoos all over their limbs (I'm not knocking tattoos - I have one), wearing charity-shop junk and sporting dreadlocks. I saw a couple of pigeons pecking at some orange vomit that someone had thrown up onto the pavement outside a women only gym and thought "this place is going to the dogs".
I've noticed this a lot lately, not just with Brighton. Is it me? Is it just to do with getting older and slowly becoming the sort of person who notices when people drop litter and nobody picks it up (and gets mad about it). Or has there just been a gradual degeneration everywhere? "Oh it's just Brighton!" said one of my friends. "I love it, but I can't stand it. I have to get away once a month because they all drive me mad. They're so lazy and selfish. They let the pier fall into the sea. That says it all."
It all left me feeling square, square, square. Yet it didn't make me want to alter my lifestyle around crystals, bongo drums and incense. Maybe I should shift my attention to the more genteel Hove, further along the coast, which is where I can at least unleash my inner old-lady to the full.
Anyway, I did meet some interesting people at the weekend. Brighton is not short on those. Including Letitcia, a disarming "erotic services provider" who was dressed in clothes befitting Mae West. She describes herself as a sex goddess and you can buy her book, Body Worship "It's not a kiss and tell expose, I have far too much class for that", at her website. As we parted company she whispered to me "I do conversions..." She also has a blog where she sets the world to rights and reminisces about her life. She gets a lot of hassle from the British Public, so please go and leave some kind comments there.