I’ve always wondered how Steven viewed Brighton. When he used to do his Massive Good Songs Radio Station, he would ask me who could see his output. I’d reply, “The whole wide world”. To which he would double check, “And Brighton?” He’s never had such concerns about Sweden. Or Africa. But in his head, Brighton occupies a unique space, quite unlike anywhere else.
Steven knows two people who live in Brighton. A friend I made on my initial counselling course, Clarice, moved there in the early 2000s. Clarice was a make up artist for ITN News and Steven held her in very high esteem ever since she gave him a signed photograph of John Suchet. The other friend who emigrated to Brighton was Adam, who was Steven’s personal trainer at Flex gym for five years. Adam still crops up in Steven’s conversation all the time, especially when we’re having a music session because Steven thinks that Adam look like Charlie Reid. And I’m sure that this only happened once but Steven associates Adam with Mika because he seranaded him with Grace Kelly when Steven was struggling with the shoulder press.
A few weeks ago one of the support workers suggested a day trip to the coast. I wasn’t sure. Steven has never been impressed with a beach and all that sand in your toes. A walk around the shops or an amusement arcade will more than likely prompt a sensory overload and the trip will be spoilt for everyone. Then I remembered my idea last year to visit every open air lido in the UK but knew the one at Saltdean had been closed for years. What I hadn’t realised is that a local community interest group had taken over the running of the pool and it had reopened this summer, albeit with limited facilities. A pool is much more up Steven’s street and we could combine the trip with a reunion with Adam and possibly sing a celebratory Letter From America in the process.
Yesterday was the big day. I hired a large MPV. Steven greatly appreciated me wearing my new Quadrophenia sweatshirt – “Dad – it’s Phil from Parklife when he was a young man”. I can’t describe how excited Steven was in seeing Adam. I think it was mutual and they reminisced about times gone by and people from the gym (Dave in the sweaty yellow vest and John who sold flowers). The girl from the cafe didn’t turn up so we went hungry but we had a lovely swim in the (partially) heated pool. We even did our old Abba songs game in the water. You can play it if you like. You sing the first line of any Abba song above water. Then, still singing, you go underwater and you can’t emerge again until you get to the chorus. (Here’s a tip – don’t try it with Chiquitita unless you have fins).
It was as close to perfect as you can get:
“Is this heaven?”
“No. It’s Brighton”.