Growing up in Ireland as an English kid with chip firmly attached to shoulder I always expected moving back to Blighty would in some form feel like coming home. After shouldering the guilt of 700 years of oppression, rape and imperialism I spent my misinformed teenage youth using Morrissey lyrics to express my complex dual heritage, and pretty much, any other state of being I was feeling (intensely) at the time. I think I even once told a girl that she was the one for me, “fatty” (she had rather chunky calves).
Upon arriving in this strange land, replete with its chunky, randomly sized currency, its busy, buzzy pace and politely curt attitude I realised for the first time that I wasn’t of this isle either. London is still magic, just less magical once the tube becomes just the way to get home rather than the rollercoaster of your memory. It feels as though I’ve being playing Life on Easy Mode, living in Galway. Easy Mode is fun but your achievements always seem worth more when the difficulty settings are raised a dash.
Relocating to the city of Brighton, on the south-most tip of the UK has been illuminating. Hipsters. Many hipsters. I immediately felt underdressed for catching the bus to uni and was just gobsmacked by what seemed like a parade of Urban Outfitters models. One difference I’ve picked up here is the value placed on buying tons of shit. There’s a real focus on high-street clothes and a fixation on brands I’ve not encountered before. I always thought this whole “materialist, valueless generation” thing was invented by the media to have something to complain about but these kids would really nick trainers in a riot. Also, no one needs glasses that big. I’m just jealous, really.
I’ve come across some odd little things in my short time here. The strangest of which I put down to having consumed the last four episodes of BBC’s brilliant Sherlock on the gorgeous iPlayer (Nationalist independence cost us this valuable asset, for shame). Anyway, I was wandering down St.James street with my girlfriend toward the Old Stein when we spotted a seemingly homeless man begging outside of Sainsbury’s; our intended destination. Hands in pockets I puffed up my upper lip and pulled a sheepish gurn, planning to avoid eye-contact: the universal gesture for “Really sorry mate I am a really socially conscious liberal guy who feels your plight and others like you and would love to help you in anyway but I’m really skint right now and the money in my pocket is purely for the Coke can I desperately need, really sorry I’m not evil don’t judge me”. Coming against us was a rather smartly dressed man, suit/tie and expensive jacket and when he passed the beggar he pulled from his inside pocket a small, black object (a mobile, mp3, something electronic and glossy) and tosses it to the weary vagabond. The homeless man, unperturbed swiftly dematerialised the object within his own tatty jacket and continued to beg visibly. The two never shared eye-contact or acknowledged eachother in any way. So I’m all…
The homeless man is young, mid to late twenties, piercing on the left nostril, well kept, his hair is short, and though his clothes are tatty and worn there appears to be a considered colour palette of browns, oranges and faded yellows that would fit our expectations of a beggar and my sandy-haired virtual Watson of a girlfriend points out that he looks very clean. That’s what I need, you see, a “normal” perspective and my unparalleled mind misses all the sappy human elements! The “spy” is similarly aged, dressed businessman like…and…er…he…um…SPY….that’s all the Sherlocking I can do. And it leads me nowhere. But I can tell you one thing. They were crap spies.
The Royal Pavilion was a strange place indeed. Go there for the opulence, the grandeur, the tearooms, but most of all go there for Dragon.
Other points of interests include the three mass evictions I’ve witnessed from buses through town, along derelict buildings on the Old Stein. Loads of bailiffs and specialist coppers running into squats and dwells taking on their elemental nemeses, hippies. I imagine it must be like a Star Fleet officer finally getting to fire phasers at Klingons for these baton-happy bobbies. Why do these damn hippies hate freedom so much? Why can’t they be happy with the myriad choices and freedoms they already have? And if they can’t afford it they should chose a loan! Dirty commie, hippies. The best part was the running commentary from the two wiggers in the back of the bus.
“Look at dem cops, look at dem run, bruv,”
“Rah, bruv! Rah!”
I ended up following their conversation the entire way home, trying in vain to decode its complex, hybridised lexicon.
“I was on my onesie, yeah, and I spotted a berserker and I said ‘yeah sexy momma, get on this coal train!'”
“No way, did you say that, bruv”
“Is it like one on one?”
“Yeah, twenty ones. One on one on one on one.”
All I conclude was that they must have been part of the same network as the Homeless Spy and knew I was onto them. Their back and forth was a mixture of secret MI6 speak and genuine interest in sexy mommas.