Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Lifting and Carrying/ The Sodom and Gomorrah Show

So, Brighton Pride at the weekend was fun. The trick on the hot days is not to do the march so you don't arrive at the park all tired and wanting to die.

I made my way down to Brighton on Friday, meeting up first with M and S who are moving down to Hove on the general London/Brighton exchange program that exists in this country. Accordingly there were probably two art-school hippies who woke up confused in Tottenham on Saturday evening.

Of course, I took great pleasure in pointing out that moving in to the Brighton and Hove area on Pride day was probably one of the most hellish things to imagine, if moving house, marriage and divorce are up there as the most stressful things that can happen to a couple then moving into Brighton on Pride day probably ranks as each of them added and then squared. I haven't been able to check yet whether they are still together.

M was living somewhere to the west of Brighton so, while we waited for S to sort out last minute problems at her place of work and join us I helped M with the shifting of boxes from the old place to the new. It's a very nice place with three rooms, a bathroom and a kitchen, plus a balcony. All in all a very nice place for around £700 a month, I'd been led to believe that Brighton and Hove rents were as high as London but getting you a lot, lot less. The flat is in a tower block that has hints of the old ITV Poirot designs but is probably more modern than that.

C got back from organising the Brighton Bothways Pride float to join in the fun and we went up and down the narrow stairs carrying boxes in before heading back into town to celebrate the arrival of these new Hoveans with the traditional Brighton food of a Chinese restaurant.

I can't remember if I've ever mentioned here before about C and my bodyclocks. I've tended to be a morning person while C is a creature of the night. We're at our collective best at about 3:00 pm, after which it's all downhill. I'm a stay-at-home type, C will spend the first few hours of consciousness each day declaring "I'm not going to go out tonight, I fancy a quiet night in" until deciding at about 9:00 pm she's just going to pop along to that party/nightclub she heard about and will only be there for five minutes... or five hours. It's an arrangement that suits us well when we meet up.

Anyway, it's rare that C wakes up before me in the morning but the heat does seem to have been buggering with my bodyclock, making me sleepy in the morning and not waking properly until the afternoon. C wasn't marching today and was the one that had to go to Preston Park and set up the Bothways stall for when Pride opened. My experience of marching two years ago was one I didn't particularly care to repeat, so I decided to hang out with her instead. We got a taxi, first over to the west side of Brighton to pick up some stuff from other people in the group, then to Preston Park. I was very impressed that a twenty to twenty-five minute trip over five or six miles only came to about ten quid, the one mile journey from a tube station to my place in London costs about four quid a pop. We were dropped at Preston Park at about 9:00 am.

Brighton Pride 2006

So things were fairly quiet when we first arrived, much like a deserted fairground. We found someone to show us to where the Brighton Bothways stall would be and made our way there. Of course, it was about halfway over the park from where we'd got out of the taxi, but on the way our spirits were lifted by this:

Giggle- Brighton Pride 2006

The perils of leaving your stand over night. The heat was already beginning to rise, our stand was positioned so that we'd be nicely shaded for the morning but would be under the full glare of the sun in the afternoon. We set out our leaflets with strategic use of sweets as paperweights, played with helium to blow up some balloons and prepared the tombola: a plastic bag full of numbered stickers, some of which were connected to some fabulous prizes. Yes, yes, I know it's a Lucky Dip, we were pressed for time and had a brainfart, okay? Then it was time to sit back and wait for the park to open.

There were three distinct waves of people, first the uninterested straights, mainly kids who were going round looking for stuff to pinch and freebies, then the non-marching queers then finally those that had come on the march from the seafront, including the rest of the Brighton Bothways crew, which gave me the perfect opportunity to go and find some lunch, as by now it was midday.

Toilets Queue, Brighton Pride 2006

To be honest these sorts of things aren't really my scene, I did go wandering around several times but the stalls that are selling something I might conceivably buy are small and working on a ridiculous mark-up (by Brighton standards anyway) so otherwise there's not much to do other than watch humanity pass by. There were any number of Drag Royalty and Trannies who must have had the stamina of mountain-climbers to go out in the midday sun and not collapse, plus all the bears and the boys playing dress-up hanging out in their own special paddock at the bottom of the field. Skirting through the fairground I walked up the northern end of the park. I saw guys disappearing into the bushes but it seemed that most of them just wanted to avoid the queues for the toilets. By the end of the day there was a rumour that two guys had been arrested for fucking, whether this, and the rumour that the police had been told by an outraged straight mother of children, was true is for someone else to verify.

In the Harness

Mostly though I just tried to stay out of the sun. Most of our group of friends from Bicon that live in the south and south-east of England turned up or popped by, Brighton Pride has a deserved reputation as being more chilled than most other Prides in the country, and would certainly seem to have an edge over London. When things drew to a close at the park most people seemed to decamp to the beach, in preparation for a night of fun in Kemp Town.

As C lives right on the seafront we were probably ideally placed for this but, though we did go down to the beach at midnight, we gave clubbing a miss. Instead we got C's Blockbuster card, a copy of A Cock and Bull Story, some takeaway food and some cheap plonk and laughed ourselves silly. C&BS is the story of a group of actors gathered to make a film adaptation of The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman by Laurence Sterne, only for the story of the filming to imitate the story of the book, backtracking, sidetracking and allovertheplacetracking while the nominal star, Steve Coogan, worries about his role in the film being marginalised by the other talent. Very funny and don't worry if you've never read the book, C has, I haven't and we both enjoyed it equally.

After that, in the early hours of Sunday morning, it was finally time for bed.


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