The short answer is yes, because I’d like to meet you. (NB, that doesn’t actually just apply to the questioner, I generally like meeting people. I would definitely like to meet the questioner though).
The long answer is yes, probably.
Except that the long answer is shorter than the short answer.
Brighton kinda changed my life.
Brighton exposed me to so many different viewpoints and ideas that I swelled and exploded. Brighton gave me somewhere I could experiment with myself until I figured out who I was.
I’m still in that process. It’s still fun.
Brighton wakes up late and shouts a lot in the evening. Brighton sings more than a lot of places. Bands and performances seem to spring up underfoot. There’s art hidden away in weird places, and people generally want to talk and be friendly.
It’s open minded, in very specific ways. It’s more that nobody is going to care what you’re doing, than everything you could be doing is welcomed.
And it can be hard to get over how white it is. And I grew up in a relatively small and often racist town. Brighton isn’t racist, so much as it isn’t mixed race. And the affluent think the outskirts are full of dole scum, when actually the ‘rough’ areas are pretty and full of nice people. It’s weird how the middle class need to ghettoise themselves as well as the less well off.
When I walk through Brighton, I can’t help but smile and bounce. I am allowed to be myself here. I am a tall, curly haired man with a beard and a skirt (often). I rarely stand out that much.
Nobody does. There’s a uniform of bizarreness across the town. Which is wonderful. The charity shops cost a fortune because everyone needs to be unique.
And it works. The Brighton aesthetic is warm and weird. Everyone thinks they look cooler than everybody else, and nobody minds.
The centre is wonderful, and small enough that you bump into your friends on a regular basis, yet you’re always close enough to the sea and the countryside that any claustrophobia is likely to be caused by laziness.
You start to recognise people. People smile a lot.
I noticed yesterday just how incredibly fashionable all the young people are. It’s amazing. When I was in sixth form all the girls looked like slappers and the boys had ill fitting shirts and trousers, or dressed as goths.
Here the sixth formers look breathlessly slick.
It’s terrifying. But it’s very Brighton.
I bet it’s a wonderful place to grow up.
I just wish more people here would bother to grow up.
But the downsides don’t matter.
The sea is here, ready to wash away your troubles.
Move to Brighton.
It doesn’t matter where you live here. Just be sure to dip in the sea and climb the hills.
Little raises my heart more than cresting a hill, looking over city, and yelling to myself:
‘I fucking love this town.’
Illustration by Anna-Kaisa.