‘…Sir, when a man is tired of Brighton, he is tired of life’ (to misquote Dr Johnson).

Posted on Nov 10, 2013 by


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        Brighton, ah, Brighton, you are simply irresistible. Whether it’s your Graham Greene Brighton Rock fish and chips seedy side, Prince Regent’s jaw dropping Brighton Pavilion or your Oh! What a Lovely War Brighton Pier, we salute you. I know, I know, the epic was made on the old West Pier not the one we know and love today. I don’t care, the minute you step on the boardwalk, you have to stop yourself bursting into the title song. What a film. The all-time great was written by Len Deighton and directed by Richard Attenborough. Talk about stellar cast! Dirk Bogarde, John Gielgud, John Mills, Kenneth More, Laurence Olivier, Jack Hawkins, Michael, Vanessa and Corin Redgrave, Ralph Richardson, Maggie Smith, Ian Holm, Nanette Newman, Edward Fox, Susannah York, Phyllis Calvert are all etched into the heart. Sadly, after unforgiving fires (natural and unnatural) and winter storms very little is left of The West Pier.

        Brighton Museum & Art Gallery in the lovely gardens of the Pavilion is also ace. And free. They even allow photos. Exhibits in the Art Deco and Art Nouveau Collections are displayed with taste and imagination in the 20th Century Decorative Art & Design Gallery. It also has pieces designed by (one of our heroes) the sainted Charles Rennie Mackintosh, a butterfly mashed on the wheel of Life. He is, far too late for him, now revered. The Museum even has the Salvador Dali iconic Mae West Lips red sofa. Often, inexplicably and mistakenly, the lips are attributed to Marilyn Monroe even though the sofa was made in 1938 and Monroe was unknown until the 1950s.

        Then there’s the art gallery. Phew! Constable, Turner, Hogarth, Gainsborough, William Blake, Walter Sickert, Wyndham Lewis and (more heroes) Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell. They’re all there. It even has The Raising of Lazarus by Jan Lievens, a painting once owned and loved by Rembrandt.

Hard to think that this magnificent museum was built to stable The Prince Regent’s horses. At least we can thank one of the most hated monarchs in English history for transforming a fishing village into today’s splendid Brighton.

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