Brighton on a Sunday morning: its homeless, swearing and dirty cohabit the park benches with sleeping revellers. The brightly painted shops padlocked and shuttered, seagulls screeching. The people I pass who are not horizontal all carry an object telegraphing their originality: a guitar, a zigzag poncho, a neck tattoo, a guitar, a long board, a long beard.
On the promenade a sentimental wet sand sculpture of a dog with a litter is being prepared for the days trade. West pier floats otherworldly out to sea, burnt, broken and disconnected. A structure called i360 is being built where the pier entrance once stood looking like a power station chimney in the centre of the city.
The rainbow flag flies alongside the union jack on hotels. Heavy rain starts dispersing the dog walkers. Bins overflowing with disposable BBQ’s and beer cans drenched In the downpour. An artily forlorn couple are filming seagulls eating biscuits with a Gopro and trying in vain and keep their stills camera dry with a Sainsbury’s bag.
Zippos circus tent – reminds me when I joined them as a child for a day of circus fun and another boy fell from his stilts onto a bed of nails perforating his hand. At Southwick, plaque reads ‘On the 6th day of April 1933 His Majesty King George V. was graciously pleased to command that this lock opened on the 15th day of March by his son H.R.H. The Prince George, K.G. should thenceforth be known as The Prince George Lock”
Encouraged by the rain clusters of large snails cross the slick tarmac path. The golden arches offer respite from the rain, I left a puddle where I stood to order. The kids next to me were talking about a woman who married her cat – “Well did she shag it?” they debated.
“A fabulous day out for all the family” a road sign for the Shoreham RAF air show has a tragic flavour as yesterday a Hawker Harrier crashed into the main road during the acrobatic display killing a number of people. Adur ferry bridge was wet and my feet squeaked like clown shoes. A modest car with the witty number plate “A DO6 DAY”
The sun emerged briefly and I took the opportunity to wring out my socks and dry my sodden waterproofs. Overheard – “I’ve seen Joe quite a lot actually, I’ve been doing his brand and website and stuff – he’s got this coding business but the logo was terrible”
Some attractive uncompromisingly modern villas on approach to beach side of Shoreham. Starlings in flock spring from a rooftop like a puff of smoke. In Lancing a beach restaurant shares a building with a gym – one stop calorific recycling. Crazy golf, Dodgems and an unalluring pier. Wonder at the motive for displaying so many union flags at the seaside.
Lunch in Dentins cafe on Worthing pier, lured by “served pink” Sunday roast beef, it was decidedly grey. Probably karma for when I told the authorities when I was at school that my black jacket was midnight blue in an attempt to bend the rules. But karma can’t explain the vivid cyan cabbage that stained the carrots like spilt ink. I started talking to an old lady on the pier. True to form we talked about the weather and the rain, I mentioned I had walked from Brighton and had been caught in it, “Oh are you homeless then?” she concluded.
Past a notice called the “History of Promenading”. Kite surfers getting airborne. Flat shingle, wide promenade and beach hut landscape. Some large and classy villas in Kingston, walled with a generous expanse of mowed grass between them and the shingle – most elegant walking.
The rain subsided, light turned golden, the sea went ultramarine and the shingle golden. This is private property and I had the beach to myself. Private security van lurks to maintain the paradise.