How Brighton Are You?
In the current post-Brexit era, we’ve never been more aware of where we’re from. A global economy, the internet, and budget air travel may have shed borders, but a need for belonging and the partisan sentiments of current politics means that our birthplace determines more than our identity, it determines our liberties, our personality, and even our life expectancy.
And in that sense Brighton has always been a bit of an anomaly. Our deeply progressive roots – where we embrace change, open thinking, and all manor of cultures – comes from us ‘being from Brighton’. This contradiction is lost on most locals; we say we don’t care where someone is from because of where we are from. Logically, it doesn’t make sense.
Which is why I realised there is actually a difference between ‘being from Brighton’ or ‘being a Brightonian’. People who move here and immediately immerse themselves in the local society are far more vocal about the characteristics of the town than someone who was born in Hangleton, talks to nobody, and still has unused parking scratchcards in their glovebox.
Doing my job, I regularly bump into people across the UK who come up to me after shows saying they are from Brighton, saying how much they miss it, while imparting anecdotes of their time down here – typically when they were students or lived here briefly.
Yet they are easily outnumbered by the people I chat to in Brighton who never came from here originally and yet consider themselves Brightonians. As a proper, died-in-the-wool (wool-substitute-because-sheep-farming-can-be-cruel) local (born here, father born here, his father born here), I am happy to accept that ‘Brightonian’ status can transcend the simple test of whether you just so happened to pop out of your mother South of the A27, West of Saltdean and East of Southwick.
So, after much research, I have compiled as inclusive a test I can to test if you are a Brightonian. It’s not like the other tests you’ll have seen where it just tests your geographical knowledge; this also tests if you have the sensibilities and demeanour to consider yourself part of the local fabric, not just part of the local tax income. Count your yeses and then read your results below.
Did you last go on the pier because a friend was visiting Brighton and you felt obliged to take them?
And have you ever played Dolphin Derby on the pier – and won?
Have you ever attended a dinner party where heterosexual people were in the numerical minority?
Have you ever walked to the Chattri, in shoes that in retrospect were a bad idea?
Have you ever drank Tuaca or Harveys, or got excited when you saw it for sale outside of Sussex?
Have you ever arranged to meet someone at the Clock Tower? (nb: also counts if you arranged to meet at the long-gone ‘Wishing Well’)
Do you know someone who has, or have you, ever voted Green?
Have you ever snubbed a chain store to spend more on something identical from a local independent shop?
Have you ever seen Katie Price / Zoe Ball / Norman Cook / Chris Eubank / Steve Coogan / Nick Cave out shopping?
Have you ever had a full meal after midnight in Buddies or the All Night Market Diner?
Do you know where the Number 1 bus goes?
Have you ever tried to get in a car that had a different coloured bonnet, thinking it was a taxi?
Have you ever argued which one of Uncle Sam’s / Grubbs burgers are better?
Do you find the name ‘Dyke Road’ completely unfunny?
Is there currently something in your living room you found on the beach / in a skip / at the old Brighton station car boot sale?
Do you call Brighton pier the Palace pier or have ever said crossly, “It’s North Laine, not North Lanes?”
Do you use a medical remedy that you bought locally, on recommendation, that you now swear by, despite it having no clinical basis?
0-2: Completely non-Brightonian. You’ve been heard referring to it as London-by-the-sea while sat drinking a Starbucks in Churchill Square.
3-5: Not Brightonian. You don’t scoff at people calling Portslade ‘West Hove’ and when people shout out ‘Seagulls!’, you look up.
6-9: Almost Brightonian. You can successfully navigate the Lanes by pubs alone and have bought a ‘Thameslink only’ ticket by mistake.
10-13: Brightonian. You refuse to enter any establishment on West Street and can magically find parking spaces near the seafront, even on a Saturday.
14-17: You’re almost too Brighton. You weep daily at the state of the West Pier and have a dolphin surrounded by martlets tattooed onto your bottom.