A place name, plucked from the air during an argument about our future – “what about Brighton?”

“Brighton could be an option! I can get the train back to work – for now at least – and there’s bound to be more going on, musically, for you.”

And so here we are. DB took charge and had a couple of frantic weeks of booking viewings of studio flats and being let down by lettings agents, and then decided to go through Spare Room in a bid to ensure we didn’t end up in one dingy basement room. Every day, Mother Dearest would ask “have you found a place to live yet?” and make her disapproval at the lack of progress known – which, you’ll be surprised to know, wasn’t especially helpful. You can choose your friends…

It was my gamble that paid off in the end (she says, not at all smugly). I answered an ad on Spare Room that had no photos but promised a sea view and a central location, and one sunny Sunday, we headed down there.
Driving past the royal-icing houses that are just so Brighton, hopes were high. And then we came to a brick block at the end of the road. “Looks like that’s it. Oh. Well, it might be nice inside.”
Up to the third floor (DB: “I don’t have a good feeling about this”) and to be honest, I was getting some faintly ‘crack den’ vibes.
But inside it was …fine. Not perfect, but certainly not the fleapit DB and I were expecting, in our middle-class anxiety.
Tiny kitchen that can only really have two people in it at a time. Tiny bathroom that DB attacked with bleach on Wednesday night and now looks shiny and white – but may not stay that way, given that it’s going to be used by one woman and 3 men. Lucky me. And our room – well, they weren’t kidding about the sea view. Two large windows look out over a little park and straight on the sea.
And that’s my second-favourite bit (the first being the simple fact that it’s our space, away from parents, in a city full of real people and not middle-aged Tories) – I can see the sea every day. I wake up and it’s there, smooth and endlessly blue, sometimes with rain-filled mists rolling off it towards us, sometimes clear and dotted with boats. I come home and I can see it as I leave the station. After work, I charge down there to have the office cobwebs blown from my head by the breeze, and to listen to the roar of seafoam on shingle. For someone who’s terrified of being in it and eating things from it, I can’t get enough of being right by it.

I don’t know how long we’ll be here for – he needs London, really, and I crave Bristol – but for now, it will certainly do. More than that – I think I could fall in love with Brighton. We’re already off to a flying start.

On the Bambi bookshelf

We know how I feel about things that are over-hyped – I’m childishly reluctant to partake in them – but Drummer Boy’s mother gave me this beautiful hardback copy of The Miniaturist for Christmas, so it would have been churlish not to give it a go. I don’t think I can emphasise enough just how far from my reading comfort zone this is – I mean, Amsterdam in the late 1600s, what? Thanks but no thanks – but it didn’t take long for me to fall in love with it. Yes, it’s set in a time and a place that I couldn’t be less familiar with if I tried, but it’s so readable, and has stacks of drama and a touch of the supernatural, and really, if you haven’t read it yet, you should.

Current inspiration

Apologies once again for the slightly wanky subheading, but really, nothing else fits. A couple of posts ago, I wrote about having a God-awful week, and that streak of shit luck is only just beginning to move on and bother some other poor sod. When everything goes a bit wrong at once, you sort of want to rebuild yourself. Rip up your life as it is and start again. The trouble is, after the age of 20, 21, this is considerably harder to do – you’re tied into things more, like jobs and relationships and habits. You can’t change it all, but you can make the best of the bad bits while you gradually unpick and re-stitch the bits that have potential.
Caitlin Moran’s novel How To Build a Girl deals with this exact problem; that feeling of “this is not how I want my life to be, so how do I change it? How do I get from here to there?” What Johanna, the protagonist, does is steal bits from other people – so with that in mind, my current source of inspiration is Sali Hughes, journalist, Guardian beauty writer, author of Pretty Honest and all-round good egg. Not only is she a brilliant writer, she also worked her way up from literally nothing. If you read nothing else about housing benefits, you should read her take on the issueThis is also a fantastic piece, and this interview’s a good’un.
Over and out.

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