The wonderful Frank Muir once mentioned on the radio a great misprint he’d seen – that great song from “Oklahoma”, “People will say we’re in Hove”. If you know anything of Brighton’s reputation as a place for liaisons (combine the easy train ride from London with the bracing sea air) or purported liaisons (the fodder of divorces) you’ll see why that misprint is inspired.
Brighton’s has a long history of being “the place to be”. Didn’t Pitt used to take his (possibly) boyfriend there for the weekend? It’s certainly had association with the gay community for a large part of the twentieth century. Like Provincetown on Cape Cod, Brighton manages to be both a family friendly and GLBT friendly resort. The days of the Mods vs Rockers punch ups on the sea front are, thankfully, gone.
The Auden poem “Oh Tell me the Truth about love” contains several clues to the sexual nature of the love which he’s looking for, a love which at the time couldn’t speak its name so has to hide behind coded words.
I tried the Thames at Maidenhead, And Brighton’s bracing air.
If you were in the know, you’d understand – for most people, theBrighton bit would be obvious, but I never understood the significance of the Thames at Maidenhead until a friend who lives there showed me where the Guards’ boathouse used to be. Some of the Guards have long been known to supplement their income by obliging gentlemen of a certain persuasion. Now all becomes clear! No wonder there’s an old local expression “Is he married or does he live in Maidenhead?”
The other great significance of Brightion is that it’s where the 2012 UK meet for writers/readers/reviewers/publishers/etc of GLBTQ fiction will be happening, on the weekend of the 15th/16th September. Some grand folk from all over Europe – nay, all over the world! – will be attending and sharing their wisdom.