Yesterday we headed off to Brighton for the ‘Foodies’ food festival. Down on Hove Lawns, overlooking the waves, the various tents offered a selection of culinary delights, from cheeses, chutneys and oils, to home-made cakes, a hog roast and the rather intriguing zebra burger. The caramelised onion and rioja cheese was my particular favourite, followed by the Irish whisky and stem ginger cheddar in second, and the Divine dark chocolate with orange and chilli running a close third.
Unfortunately the weather put a bit of a dampener on the day. After several days of glorious sunshine, the weather forecast promised it would continue, at least until Monday. It was wrong. Battered by showers and wind, we crowded into the tents, me trying to wolf down my lemon sole in a roll before it went soggy.
Today the sunshine has returned, so visitors to Foodie today will have been able to sit outside the tents, the sun on their faces as they munched away. Unfortunately the rows of beach chairs in the man-made sandpit didn’t look very appealing yesterday.
After neither a hot chocolate nor a glass of red had managed to warm me up, and my whinging about the weather had grown too much for even Pete to bear, we marched off to the shops to get warm. In our search for the famous ‘Lanes’ we came across a rather unusually decorated monument, which I’ve since discovered is the Jubilee Clock Tower. The once sandy walls were now covered in clothing. Checked shirts, t-shirts and leather jackets lined the outer walls, arms outstretched as if they were giving the tower a big hug. Every now and then the wind caught the bottom of the fabric and one of the rows would ripple like a Mexican wave.
I was intrigued to see how it was fastened to the wall, so moved closer to inspect the bottom row of jackets. It looked like those plastic tags had been used that you get on new clothing – they attach the label to the fabric – so I figured there must have been something underneath the clothing that the tags were attached to, and then the stone wall beneath that.
As I was inspecting a 1940s flying jacket lookalike (or possibly the real thing?), I realised everyone around me was staring up at the clock tower, calling their friends over, running over to get a closer look. This is what art is all about. It makes people think, it makes people talk about it, discuss its meaning, try and get their own meaning from it. Meaning or no meaning, I just thought it was cool. A nice break from the shopping, a little something to unite everyone’s attention, a talking point for all us strangers in the street.
Meandering back through the Lanes to the train station, I found myself grinning at the melting pot of people I passed. Such a mixture of fashions, so many different hairstyles, and not a TopShop clone in sight. (I buy my clothes at Next, so I could never be called ‘alternative’, and trial a new fashion craze with extreme caution and usually at least a year after everyone else, but I do try not to look exactly like everyone else.) The shops were starting to close as the bars across the street opened, and the narrow lanes were filled with groups of fashionable friends or funky bohemians chatting over pints and cocktails. I didn’t want to leave. I could stay here, I thought, in this interesting, vibrant, creative place. I think it’s safe to say I’m Brighton’s newest fan.