We went to Brighton for the day, as it was hot and sunny (for October).
We headed for the beach first (Charlie’s favourite thing in the whole world right now is a beach – any beach, as long as there is sea attached); then, after much bargaining and bribery, Charlie and I went to the Brighton Pavilion. I think I first came to the Pavilion in the early 80s on a day out to see my stepsister Jeanine’s final year exhibition at Brighton Poly-as-was. Can’t remember much about the exhibition, but I do remember walking into the Banqueting Room and being totally entranced by the utter extravagance and theatricality of the chandelier. George IV would have been much happier as some kind of impresario, organising massive spectaculars to soothe and delight the masses. That’s when Brighton Pavilion officially became my favourite royal palace ever.
I’ve been back over the years, and seen the renovations being carried out. The hurricane and fire damage in the music rooms is very nearly completely repaired: the music room in particular has a strange tranquility that belies the lavish decor – though nobody is brave enough to sit directly underneath the enormous chandelier.
We had lunch in the tiny-but-excellent Pavilion tea room and then went back to the beach for a final frolic. By this time it was really getting crowded. It’s good to see that teenagers still flock to Brighton Beach like they did in my parents’ day – though there are fewer running battles between youth tribes, I suppose.
More negotiations saw me pondering a few shops on the way back to the station, with Charlie patiently tolerant and advising me on buying a new Ollie and Nic handbag in the sale (bargain). I think the reason I like Brighton is because it’s a lot like the London I grew up in: lots of quirky shops and interesting alleys, with some creeping commercialisation (plenty of chain stores in The Lanes, jostling with antique shops and other boutiques). The 90s boom times and gentrification drove out a lot of the more interesting London shops to the suburbs,where they don’t seem to flourish as they do in Brighton.
We were home in under two hours, and making plans to come back for a longer stay. With Daddy this time so that Charlie can spend more time on the beach, and Mummy can go shopping.