Brighton, thank you for daring to be different - Argus Friday 1st July 2016

Posted Friday 8th July 2016   By Ericka Waller

The only crumb of comfort I can take from the result of the EU referendum is that my beloved Brighton (and Hove actually) voted 70% remain. Eleven years ago, when I left my Home Counties, middle-class enclave for Brighton, people asked me ‘Are you gay?’ If you look up the dictionary definition of the word ‘gay’ it reads: Gay - light-hearted and carefree. [Synon]: Cheerful, merry, glad, happy, bright, bubbly, frolicsome, sprightly, vivacious, buoyant. [informal] ‘gay as a tangerine’ I believe these words describe our City, our hearts, and our hopes. In the general election, we dared to be different. In the EU election, we dared to be different.

We still believe we can make a change. We are not so washed out, dissatisfied and disillusioned as the rest of the country seems to be. We look forward, and embrace change, not backwards through rose-tinted spectacles at a time that can never be travelled to again.

Brighton and Hove are not heavily subsidised by the EU. Our vote was not based on what was in it for us, but who was in it with us. People say our streets are dirty, our jeans are frayed at the bottoms, and we can’t get anywhere on time. 

We are all just slightly wonky, slightly off-kilter down here. A blur of music, colour, art and food. We see beauty in street graffiti and dilapidated piers. 

Yesterday I had lunch at Sunbirds Mediterranean café in London road.I felt like I had walked into Joanna Harris’ book ‘Chocolat’. (Synopsis in brief - Vianne Rocher and her illegitimate daughter open a bakery in a conservative town in rural France. They are met with scepticism and disapproval from the locals, who believed the intoxicating scent of chocolate was the work of the devil.)

It was a riot of colour, spice, and soul.

How could one abstain from the pleasure of food like Sunbirds? How could we be happy in a nation without Baclava, or Holy Nature cake (a potent poppy seed delight). What would we do without croissants, olive oil, prosecco, macerons or pitta dipped in houmous?

How could anyone ever want to cut culture from our country?  Because that is what could happen now. ‘Leavers’ may have thought they were voting for more money to put into the NHS, and larger fishing quotas, but actually, they were voting to strip Britain of all that makes it great, and that is our melting pot of people.

I wish there could be a scanner run over this country, that would highlight what will happen if other cultures are made to leave. We would be full of holes. The thought of making people who have bought so much to my country feel unwelcome makes me feel sick. In some places, people are being stopped in the street and told to pack their bags.

Thank you Brighton, for daring to be different. This referendum has been a reminder of how beautiful us 'hippies' are. I am so grateful the place I love most has not let me down. We can walk around freely without witnessing separatism. My daughters can grow up in a rainbow-coloured bubble, away from the angry mob.

All this talk of taking back what is ours, when we are merely visitors on this earth anyway. We split the world up to suit us. Countries are just lines on a map. They mean nothing at all.

In the words of John Donne ‘No man is an island, Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent, A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less. As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend's, Or of thine own were:
Any man's death diminishes me, Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee. 

And finally

Comedian Joe Hart, NOT the ‘biscuit-wristed’ England goal-keeper, has been the subject of mistaken identity since our embarrassing other exit from Europe this week. Funny man Joe has been inundated with Tweets including ‘I am not angry at you, I am just very disappointed’ and ‘You’ve ruined my life’.

This is not the first case of mistaken identity on Twitter. El Nino, is the name of a climate cycle which had a global impact on weather patterns. 

Al Nino is a Californian navy veteran who regularly receives abusive tweets and phone calls from people demanding to know ‘why the hell are you doing this to our weather?’ And poor John Lewis, a Computer Science Educator, Father-of-four, Social Liberal Atheist and not-a-retail-store gets tweets informing him he ‘airs his lengthy and pointless Christmas advert far too early each year, in fact, he’s ruining it for everyone.’


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