Monday, May 08, 2006

[The Life of Shaun #47] Londcisco-by-the-Sea

Ah! They grey skies! Chilly weather! Insipid rain! Pebbles & stones stretching as far as the eye can see! Where else can one get all this but the English seaside?! I went to Brighton this weekend, a town on the coast of England, about an hour south from London. It's a popular gay getaway, London's more declassé answer to Provincetown.

Brighton's nickname is "London-by-the-Sea" due to the large influx of (largely gay) Londoners that occurs every weekend, especially over the Summer. But I believe a more accurate description would be if you were to think of London and San Francisco having a tryst at the beach one holiday and Brighton is the love child they left behind. It is thoroughly English, from its large London emigrant population and guests, to fish-and-chips on the pier, to the people enjoying themselves on the rides at the pier oblivious to the rain & glum in the way only a people who've grown up with it could. But there're huge overlaps with San Francisco; the city is choc-a-block with Edwardian architecture, rows of ticky-tack houses lining the hills above the city, gays & hippies everywhere, galleries displaying art for art's sake (tell me, really, does anyone like this stuff?) and 300 pound lesbians with mullets who don't wear bras to make a political point. If the trip hadn't only taken an hour I could easily have been fooled into thinking I was back on 18th & Castro.

It really is a lovely town, and I had a good time. Good food, good just-tacky-enough gay bars, dance club, a cute shopping district called The Lanes, made up of a series of 5-feet-or-so-wide lanes lined with oh-so-precious stores. I also rode the world famous Crazy Mouse, a roller coaster where, for the second half of the ride, as you're riding along the track your car spins around randomly. It was surprisingly fun (and scary, since you feel you're about to fly off into the sea) and only £3 (as opposed to the highly disappointing £9 (yes, £9!) roller coaster Russ and I rode in Blackpool.

So a good weekend was had. I'd definitely go back some time; I hear Pride there is fantastic. But now all thoughts are to Italy! Sean and I go to Bologna this Thursday for a four-day getaway there and Verona. It's my first time to Italy - very excited!


Shaun Coley
London, UK

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