fitting in brighton

An anthropological guide to the Brightonian (and how to become one)

‘When a man is tired of London…” wrote Samuel Johnson, in a tightly-quilled rant against the congestion charge, “… he generally moves to Kemptown and starts complaining about the pub on his road.” Brighton & Hove is populated by refugees from the less-enlightened corners of Britain.

Mostly, their forward-thinking outlook has helped create a liberal idyll which clings to the island’s arse like a trendy, hummus-gobbling boil. But, like anywhere, the locals don’t think much of newcomers and their parochial eccentricities. How do you fit into a place so full of individuals? Luckily, we’ve complied a nowhere-near conclusive guide to strutting around as if you’re ‘born and bred’…

  • Moan about the price of an all-day bus ticket, then spend twice that amount of some avocado on toast.
  • No matter what you see on the streets of the city centre, do not react. If a naked man walks past you in Oxfam, a group of wide-eyed crusties walk down the road carrying a coffin or you see a rooftop chase… relax. In other places these are happenings, spontaneous madness or flash mobs, In Brighton & Hove it’s called ‘Tuesday’.
  • Find yourself at a house party with Big Brother winner, Pete Bennett.
  • Sneak beer on the Volks Railway, for a lovely boozy trip along the seafront. At the end of the journey, wonder why you’ve come to that end of the beach.
  • If you want to talk like a local, start off with a slightly camp Danny Dyer impersonation, then soften it down. Move your mouth only when necessary. ‘Our’ needs to sound like ‘air’. Any ‘EE’ needs to be shortened to an ‘I’. Make ‘TH’ sound like a ’v’. Is there a ‘G’ or an ‘H’ in a word? Forget those, you probably won’t be needing them again. When some asks you if you have explored the wonders of West Sussex, reply: “I’ve bin rand Storin’ton, but I neva sin Worvin.”
  • Drink Tuaca. Nobody knows what it is or where it came from, but it does taste good with cola or as a shot.
  • Make eye contact with anyone begging, even if you have no money. Pay scant attention to buskers, even if they are dressed like Jim Henson creations.
  • Tell everyone you support Brian’Ove Albion (or Seeeg-ulls!!), at least as a second team. Don’t support Crystal Palace Football Club, ever.
  • Distance yourself from the visiting plebeian hordes by using litter bins for their prescribed purpose.
  • Never mention the hills in polite company. People don’t talk about them, their steepness or how they are so numerous.
  • Under no circumstances hang out on Old Ship Beach. Or if you need to, spend all your time moaning loudly about the tourists.
  • Develop a sixth sense regarding cyclists. Those two-wheeled death ninjas can spring from anywhere and stop for nothing on their maniacal trip back to the mothership.
  • Pretend you’ve met Fatboy Slim. If you believe public house nonsense, his home is second only to Brighton Palace Pier in footfall.
  • If you live in Hove, make sure you add the word ‘actually’ EVERY time you mention the town.
  • Regard everything north of the Downs with suspicion.
  • Even though foxes or seagulls (Seeeg-ulls!!) will rip them to shreds, put your bin bags out three days early.
  • Find a decent local chippie, that doesn’t have a sea-view or stupid prices.
  • Never leave.

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