What’s this? Is Leah starting a series? No, Leah has just realised that as she is incredibly anti social if she ever wants to go somewhere different, then she is going to have to go there solo. A few months ago I did my first ever solo flying experience to spend a few days in Edinburgh and this month, I decided to spend five hours on a train and standing on various platforms throughout the South of England to spend a few days in perhaps my favourite coastal city, Brighton. Now I have returned as a sun burnt, creatively energised person with a knee injury, who in the past few days managed to accidentally join a Marxist cult, spend a night in the world’s worst hotel and have full on mental breakdown on a beach. So, who wants to hear about it?
On alighting my train and noticing it was a little over cast, I headed straight for the sea front and ended up on my first Leah esque adventure of the day, because let’s be real, my life is nothing but a series of odd events strung together by me telling people about those events.
See, this is where my initiation into the Marxists enters the story.
Imagine the scene, I am fresh off a four hour train journey, I am ready for all that tasty vegan food that Brighton is known for, I am here for a stroll along the beach, a meander through the Lanes. What I am not here for is an awkward situation which results in me accidentally promising to join a political party. We begin with my inability to not document things I think are interesting, for adorning the streets of Brighton where these posters:
Which naturally, I stopped to photograph because idk about where you guys live, but where I am, no one places political propaganda like this around. Yeah we get the posters for the main parties appear around election time, but we don’t get fringe groups like the socialists etc advertising their meetings and while I’d heard of The Socialist newspaper, I hadn’t actually ever seen one. Well, now I have. Naturally, upon stopping to photograph these posters I was approached by a chap with a clipboard who said: “what do you think of Jeremy Corbyn?” While he wasn’t expecting me to respond with: “Think he’s a top lad actually,” I didn’t really expect to then be escorted to a table and asked if I wanted to take part in the local socialist party conference and by extension join their cause. Though if you analysed my political leanings they probably wouldn’t be that far away from the beliefs of the socialist party, I just wanted a trip to the beach. I am however, one of those people who is scared of both confrontation and offending people, so I listened to the socialist vision for much longer than anyone else would have and accepted a badge. Which is how I then got accosted by the Marxists. But more on that later.
Finally free of the shackles of politics, I could make my way to the pier and the wonderful smell of churros, chips and sea salt.
If you’ve never been to Brighton before, I recommend a trip. Brighton is, even when overcast, a vibrant, exciting and intoxicating city, you can feel the creativity and the enthusiasm of the place in every corner and the the Pier is no exception, it seems to crop up on TV and in film every now and again.There is so much art and wonder along the sea front alone, including this:
From here, I made my way over to the Lanes, which is basically how I imagine a rabbit warren would look were it inhabited by people. Lots of narrow streets filled with shops ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous and of course, where some of the best food options in the city can be found. If you’ve passed by here before, you’ll know I partake in the dairy free and meat free foods and well, Brighton has some of the best food on the planet that fits the bill, so, with my stomach rumbling and my calm returning after my awkward interrogation by the socialists, I headed into the Lanes intent on either finding Food with Friends, Rootkandi or V Bites. I ended up in V Bites and had my first experience of fake fish and chips, well… I was by the seaside, how could I not?
The sun decided to come out after I’d emerged from the Lanes, so off back along the sea front I went, back past my new friends, the socialists, and up to the clock tower and Churchill Square, which is a big shopping centre, one place in the city I hadn’t been to before. I was still carrying around the badge handed to me by the group of socialists I’d encountered earlier in the day… Mostly because I didn’t really know what else to do with it. It was spotted by a group of Marxists and suddenly I was surrounded. TLDR, I think I may have given them my email address in order to escape. I am now quite concerned that I may show up on a national register somewhere… Is it still frowned upon to be a Marxist? Especially one that hasn’t read any of Marx’s work? Someone needs to let me know.
You might think the adventure into the strange and unusual was over. You would be mistaken. After exploring Churchill Square, the clouds were coming back in and fog was starting to settle. Someone somewhere thought it was a good idea to build a large metal pole with a 360 restaurant thing in it right on the sea front, which allows people to have a bird’s eye view of the area and also allows those on the ground to wonder who on earth thought it needed to be where it was, however, by the time I began combing the front for my hotel, the enormous metal pole was barely visible. Which worried me, what with my ability to get myself into bizarre situations, it was at this point the knee injury occurred. Pebble beach, fog, inherent clumsiness, you know how it is, which is how I ended up limping into one of the weirdest buildings I have ever been into.
There is a moral lesson here, that lesson is if you find a hotel that is £20 cheaper than a Travel Lodge, do not save the £20.
This hotel was weird. Like not even in a quirky oh Brighton way, but in a H H Holmes kind of way. After checking in I was told to head for the stairs and follow the numbers, well if my knee didn’t hurt by this point it sure did by the time I reached my room. This hotel was just endless rickety stair cases and windy corridors, you could hear the foot steps, every word and every breath of its inhabitants, it was almost as though the building itself was creaking and would collapse at any moment. But you know it was just a bed for the night, it was fine. Well… Until I realised that the window in my room was only open because a bit of it was missing. So being a very nervous person who hates confrontation and had already expended all their energy dealing with political activists, it took me several hours of panic before eventually heading down to reception to tell them I’d noticed the window. Which resulted in me being moved to another room down yet more rickety stairs and winding corridors this time to the very front of the hotel immediately opposite an open all hours, well lit Chinese restaurant which had brightly coloured flashing lights illuminating every corner of the room. So my knee and I decided we’d take our chance with the fog for as long as we could.
Eventually though, in pain and armed with a sandwich I returned to the rave room with a renewed sense of creativity, I’ve been working on and struggling with my next book for MONTHS like it feels like a life time ago that I last made any progress with it, but whether it was the sea air or the combination of strange events that had befallen me since my arrival in Brighton I began to make notes. I couldn’t turn those notes into anything coherent though due to the fact that multi coloured lights were flashing away and I could literally hear every conversation going on in the hotel at the exact same time, quite an achievement when you’re deaf in one ear and hadn’t bothered to take your hearing aids on holiday with you. Suffice to say, it was nearly 5 am before utter quiet had fallen and the sun had risen sufficiently to even out the various colours.
So there I was, limping, exhausted and terrified that I’d stumble across UKIP and end up handing over my details to them too, emerging into glorious sunshine the following morning. I took myself to the beach, I found a spot, I sat and I wrote. For two hours. Emerging from an almost trance like state to check my phone only to catch my reflection and realise that yes, I was now tomato coloured. Wonderful. Not only was I tomato coloured, but because it was a Wednesday at 9 am, I was also the only person on the beach. Cue my brain deciding that that was the exact moment to listen to my existential crisis. If you’re going to have an existential crisis, always good to have Brighton beach as your view though, right?
So there we have it, I am sat with a bag of peas on my knee, half a tub of aloe on my face and the fear that I’ll be arrested at any moment for being a political enemy, but my novel is several thousand words longer, my love for Brighton and it’s eccentricities is increased and honestly, I am a bit excited about what new adventures I’ll find myself on.