Sunday, 6 May 2012


I've lived in 9 houses and flats in Brighton and Hove, over 14 years, with 16 different people. Because Brighton is so small, I'm constantly re-treading old ground.  Friends move into streets where I used to live.  Shops and cafes change names and menus but are in the same places, visited by the same people.  My local now was the pub round the corner from my friends' house where we drank sometimes in 1999 and I work 100 yards from my university halls of residence.  My memories are set off like neural tripwires, so I smile when I walk by that wall over the railway line and take the long way round past that place where that thing happened that time. 

The 'My Brighton and Hove' site has tours which people have constructed out of their own experiences of the city, and also guides to the past city.  Past Brighton is familiar and unexpected.  Probably as elegant and squalid as now, but in different places and in different ways.  Some things that seem to be old and timeless turn out to have had a mid-life crisis with some 20th century remodelling and restoration, streets of what are now colourful and desirable houses were dark and soot-encrusted 90 years ago.  There were horses stabled in the North Laine into the 70s and nissen huts on the (much leafier) Level in the 40s and 50s.

The James Gray collection is an incredible record of past Brighton and Hove, and is worth devoting a fair bit of time to rummaging about in.  This photo, of Waterloo Place, is just excellent.  
"Developers bought most of the 1820s houses to build fresh offices, but Miss H. Silvester who had lived at No. 9 for 50 years refused all offers for her property and refused to budge. The new blocks were built either side, and her house shored up. She was in the house when the photograph was taken on 15 February 1970, some years after the offices were built. She died in March 1974, aged 89. Her house was then demolished and the offices linked up." Note by James Gray

I love the overlapping time layers and Miss Silvester's determination.  It's also pleasing that there is a bus named after James Gray.
This is what it looks like now (with scaffolding and a decorative covering): 
(Photo taken by Mr Listingslightly, who kindly perched between a flowerbed and the traffic to get the right angle on this and without any passing cars)

At the moment I am....
Listening to: Radiolab. On every bus journey to work. It is magnificent. 
Knitting:  this jumper...

....very slowly.   (If you're on Ravelry it's here)
Eating: Ginger biscuits, made from a recipe in Mary Berry's Ultimate Cake Book. Yum.

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