My Brighton by Brighton Author Mark Haysom
Mark Haysom, Author of new Brighton based book Love, Love Me Do, gives us a poetic and personal piece on what Brighton means to him after he moved back from London with his wife four years ago and why he chose to set his latest novel in our City.
“Brighton is a place of surprises. Every day we try to set off walking – for we have discovered that it is a city best understood on foot – and every walk we take seems to add some new vivid fragment to our kaleidoscope of shared Brighton memories. Now, each twist of that kaleidoscope brings a new sight, a new sound to mind.
“There’s the clattering stamp late that July evening of two dozen Morris men, closing the road outside The Crescent, and dancing recklessly into the night; there’s that sun-filled day on Madeira Drive when two thousand minis stretched jaunty and proud from the pier to Black Rock; there’s the evening of the lowest, sandy-shored tide with the fireball sun slowly dipping into the stillest sea;
there’s the Hove Park pipe-smoking engine driver, sitting proudly astride his puffing miniature steam train and hauling a solitary fretful fair-haired boy, too shy and tearful to wave to his watching parents; there are the chattering crowds on the Boxing Day seafront and their children with wobbling new bikes, stuttering new scooters; there are the grey-haired leather-clad rockers – old enough to know better, old enough not to care – roaring defiantly through the rain-streaked city streets on the customised bikes they dreamed of when they were thin and young and invincible;
there are the painted animal faces of five thousand children dancing, singing, drumming, whistling at the start of the shuffling Festival parade; there’s the rickety ride along the seafront on the Volks electric railway and, there, the dark rumbling ghost train at the end of the pier; there are the pinched faces of the water-proofed riders of the open-topped bus, breezing up to the downs with the clouds gathering above; there’s the biting cold of Devil’s Dyke on a frosted February morning, the shivering mist rolling from the sea; there’s the shock of the water on the first swim of the summer and there’s that ice cream on the pebbled beach in the dripping radiating heat of an August afternoon;
there are the ducks squabbling on the pond at Queen’s Park, the sore-shinned skateboarders racketing on the Level, a keening of seagulls on the esplanade, a murmuration of starlings swooping, turning above the Palace Pier; there’s the bonfire of clocks on the beach after a December candle-lit procession; there are buskers in Pavilion Gardens, stags and hens, noisy and lost in the Lanes; there’s a juggler on the Brighton marathon, still running, still juggling, the finishing line in sight;
there are the faded autumn colours of St Ann’s Well and the sticky first buds of spring; there’s the view of the Marina from Whitehawk Down, a yacht venturing from the harbour on to a breezy sea; there’s the thunder of sweating horses crossing the finishing line at the Racecourse, another race run; there’s the collective sigh of the grandstand punters, another race lost; there’s the steep dark climb of the hill after a concert at The Dome, the music carrying us homewards; there are the sun-hatted crowds arriving early at the station for a long day of deck-chairs, paddling pools, beer and candyfloss; there is the music on the seafront and the shouts and hand-slaps from the basketball and volleyball courts; there’s …
“There’s another Brighton too, of course –the homeless huddling sleepless in shop doorways, the street-drinking drunks staggering to wherever they call home, the occasional wail of police sirens. It is not a perfect city. No city is.
“But it is a city we knew as children, growing up in Sussex, and it is the city that is now home and that we have come to love.
“How could my first novel, Love, Love Me Do be set anywhere else?”
Love, Love Me Do is published by Piatkus and is on sale from July 31st. Here’s what Piatkus, his publisher, says about his first novel:
Honest and unsettling, yet ultimately uplifting, this unique, wise and addictive British debut weaves themes of love, betrayal, family and childhood, and shows that even though life has a habit of getting in the way of dreams, people find their own extraordinary ways of bouncing back.
Header image by Berit Watkin – www.flickr.com/photos/ben124