Turn left at Old Steine to St James Street. Acceptance and love go far between Beacon Centre and Rock Place. All streets on the starboard side lead to the sea glimpse the shining ocean pearls as you glance away from busy shops. How will you make your way? With sepia flicks of history? This was Brighton’s Bond Street, home of Forfar’s bakery, the lingering aroma of Beano Pies, listening booths of Tilbury Gig. Or will you take a personal story? I lived in the pink house in Margaret St, heard the grit of pebbles crash the waves at night. Or are you mosaicing your own map from kebabs and coffee, a haul of driftwood and sea bleached rope? This is a street where no one tells and everyone kisses. Not just gateway to Kemp town but a whole village. Brighton in microcosm, the city’s pulse.
As if your cat starts talking, or a fish-tank reads like a novel the skin of the world peels down and its 1969 again. In colour, unshaven, these boys who shaped your past. It’s ‘dig it’ and ‘man’ without irony, meaningful glances. Work of chords and strum, hum drum staccato of genius. The many hours put in, fueled by tea, toast and Pale Ale. Hari Krishnas chant, Yoko files admin, chats to Maureen. Billy Preston drops in to hang out and never leaves, brings sunshine gleam to piano keys opens the room. By the time they reach the roof you feel you’ve earned it. You put in the hours too, drank the brew, smoked until your lungs ached. And now it’s time for joy, velvet loons, fur to keep out the chill, shoulder shrugs and head gyrations Street scene far below seems innocent. Coppers mount the stairs. Note: written in response to Peter Jackson’s film Get Back - 9 hours of edited footage of The Beatles recording Let it Be, an album released in 1970.
The awkward bend
We are driving up the steep hill alongside Woodvale cemetery. Down in the valley, folded into lights, is the street we lived in forty years ago. If I turned that house upside down I’d find no trace of us: not a cleaning rota, or a nettle pie in an enamel dish or the wigs we wore for the 1960’s party just before we all moved our separate ways. I have held you, lightly, for decades In hand-drawn maps with travel instructions your looped handwriting in birthday cards, the glass bead earrings you gave me when you were ill and they were too heavy to wear and the afternoon you were more than by my side as we giggled and yelled our way through childbirth arguing with the midwife, a strict PE teacher on the 13th floor of the hospital with a sea view. Both of us have libraries of friends ask little of each other and deliver a lot. Turning is easier at night when the oncoming traffic shows up.