Thursday, 17 May 2007

In the beginning…

I live on Western Road, Brighton, in a large thirties building accommodating five floors of purpose built flats, six floors if you include the penthouse (but I don’t as that is way above my means let alone my head).

Western Road is the main shopping drag in Brighton. At one end, it plays host to the city’s modest shopping mall, Churchill Square, and, at the other, the floral clock. While some may feel that so naming the mall is a slice of self-aggrandisement too far, there is a tenuous link. As a young lad, Churchill did attend a preparatory school for a brief period run by the Misses Thompson in Hove. Though the good people of Hove may feel pissed off by this theft of a piece of their corporate identity, Brighton’s need for tokens of respectability is greater. Brighton has never had a good press ever since George Part III went mad and allowed his son first to open the Regency and then the Pavilion .

You can’t help feeling whoever it was that baptised the roads of Brighton were somewhat confused about the compass. No argument that Western Road is appropriately named as it does point towards the setting sun. However, the street that runs in the opposite direction and points to the rising sun is named North Street. While the street that leads in a southerly direction down to the sea is named West Street. By the time they came to identify a road to christen South Street, the authorities that be had given up. What, by their logic, should have been South Street is called Queen’s Road. These were clearly not naval men though loyal to Her Majesty, Queen Victoria d'Este of the House of Hanover, every one.

Brighton is not a place for the paranoid. With over 4 million CCTV cameras constantly broadcasting, this noble and once free country of ours is now the most scrutinized on earth. And of those 4 million, 3.9 million are concentrated in Brighton. Paranoia is contagious especially among the boys and gals in blue. Brighton police famously overact to any form of demonstration. During the early days of protest against the Iraq war, I counted 150 protestors being shepherded down Western Road by over 200 police – this soon after I had attended a demonstration in London where over a million demonstrators were marshalled by a single mounted policeman on a white horse.

Am I paranoid? Not me! Just because I don’t trust anyone doesn't make me paranoid. Oh no! It may make them paranoid, but not me.

1 comment:

Graeme K Talboys said...

It was ever thus with the Brighton Constabulary whose sole purpose in life seems to be to pick on dissenters and make their life miserable. It is many years since I lived down that way, but remember the joys of being 'singled' out for having long hair and loon pants when the boys in blue turned up...