Sunday, December 05, 2010

Postcard From Brighton

I've been very slack with blogging. I've been pretty slack with writing generally, although I am toying with the idea of applying for a creative writing course when back in Australia. I've never really been into the idea of studying writing and I'm not sure even now if it's for me, but it might be a fun thing to try. I think I've always felt that the short story award so many years ago and the few stories published and short-listed proves that I can do it so that's enough. But what the hell. Who knows.

Anyway. Last day in Brighton today. The above photo was taken in Prague, not Brighton, but it kind of captures my mood of late. Read into it what you will.

So how has Brighton been? Mixed bag of lollies indeed. In the first hour of being here we got caught up in student demos which threatened to turn into riots. There were riot cops out in force, dogs, 'kettling', helicopters... it was full-on.

Then there was snow. There were a few light falls, then one night it really came down. So pretty, so delicate and gentle. Being Australian I'm used to thunderstorms, hailstorms and heavy rain, all loud and potentially destructive. But snow just drifted about and settled gently, not making a sound. At times in the orange light outside the pub The Dreaded One and I sat in that night, the snowflakes looked like embers from a fire as they flurried about. Strange that such a beautifully gentle thing as snow fall can cause such havoc. Roads closed, trains got stranded, schools closed, airports shut down. It was amazing.

It was an impressive dump and it was such fun to be out amongst it. I've loved the cold and the sound of snow under-foot. And the smell of the snow. When it first started coming down I noticed a strange smell I hadn't noticed before and couldn't quite link to anything else. The smell persisted and I started to wonder if it was the snow, the way you can smell ozone just before rainfall. I said to The Dreaded One, "This might be a stupid question, but does snow have a smell?" She didn't know. I've never really experienced snow before so I thought maybe this was a common thing.

I googled and sure enough, lots of peopple can smell snow. Described variously as clean and ozone-like, I wondered how it was that I'd never encountered the concept of snow odour.Very distinct.

We made the most of this early, freak fall. Snow fights and sliding down hills and just generally being out in it. It turns everyone into children. So nice to hear the shounds of the protests and police sirens replaced by the hoots and child-like laughter of children and adults alike.

The snow has gone and life has returned to normal, except for the hangover of blame. The debates going on about who is to blame for everything turning to shit because of the snow is amazing. It seems each time this happens - heavy snowfall - the country grinds to a halt and someone is to blame. I don't know. I think it doesn't happen often enough for there to be proper systems in place to cope with it (if it happened for six months of the year every year I'm sure the situation would be different), and if that's the case just ride it out. But the Brits love to blame someone, and they love to do it with anger.

Speaking of anger, I also saw a ridiculous pub fight break out. The argument was over someone taking a bar stool that someone else had been using. Classic case of class divide because one guy was working class and the other sounded and looked a bit of an upper class twat. The twat kept baiting the blue collar guy by questioning his intelligence because he wanted to punch someone over a barstool. He had a point, but the other guy did back off at the urging of his mates, but that the twat kept making things flare up only proved that he was, in fact, precisely as stupid as the other guy. At one point the shouting even included questioning which of them was the more authentic Brightonian.

I don't know whether we are more egalitarian in Austraia or whether it's more that you don't get such distinctly different classes at the same drinking hole, but I'd never seen anything quite like it. Funny and disturbing. We got the hell out when furniture started flying about and other patrons started getting involved.

We also took part in an artwork designed by Thom Yorke from RadioHead. This involved us standing around in blue ponchos with thousands of other people assembled to look like King Canute while a plane flew over and took photos. It was bitterly cold and about as much fun as it sounds, but strangely fun.

And today is our last day in Brighton. We're off to Oxford tomorrow for a couple of nights because people say it's nice. Then it's back to London for one night before we fly out to New York.

Hopefully I'll ge back into regular updates. And posting more photos. God, I am so behind.


isabelle said...

Oh dear, the photo looks bleak, I hope your mood doesn't reflect your thoughts about Britain.

If you had more time, I'd say come up north.I know a place you'd feel right at home.

Have fun in new York !


Lee said...

England is fine, Isabelle. I like it a lot. I really do. I could easily stay here.

Kathryn said...

England can't handle anything extreme. It's just not in their nature (so to speak). The entire country grinds to a halt through the lightest snow, through heavy rain, through warm summer days, etc. And if non of that is going on, someone will create a little bit of drama and more transport issues ensue. It's really annoying at times and yet quite endearing as it's the only country I've come upon that this occurs. Love the UK.

Lee said...

I love it too. I think I've enjoyed every place I've visited so far.

And Isabelle - I was thinking what a strange experience it would be to wander into your shop. Pity I didn't have more time.

Guyana-Gyal said...

This post is one of the reasons why I so love this blog, the way you see things, the way you describe them.

I've been wondering recently about the sound, the sight, the SMELL...yes, the smell...of snow...and here you are, writing about it.

I think you will enjoy the writing course, and I think you must continue writing, you just have to DO it. But we know how writers love to procrastinate, don't we?

Lee said...

Yes we do, GG.