Mrs D's pies

Mrs D's pies, originally uploaded by fred pipes.

I bought this vegetable pasty from Mrs D's on Gardner Street, Brighton for my tea on Sunday after the Clarion bike ride. Very tasty at £1.50.


Giants of Steam

Giants of Steam, originally uploaded by fred pipes.

Spent a few precious moments on the platform of Sheffield Park station on Sunday at the Bluebell Railway's Giants of Steam gala weekend, during a Clarion bike ride from Lewes. Some of the locos were built at Brighton loco works, including this BR Standard 2-6-4 tank No.80151 - built in 1957.


Some girls are bigger than others

Some girls are bigger than others by Anonymous Society. I'm so glad I don't have to write reviews for a living! This one would be difficult and I think on balance I'm neutral on this one. I so wanted to like this musical celebration of Morrissey and Marr's (darker, sadder) songs, and had high expectations of this production. I have to agree with the Argus review about the treatment of some of the songs, as flamenco, torch song or jazzy blues, in the style of Tom Jones or Joss Stone - there was even a duet! - but they were strong enough to transcend any repurposing. Peter and Lisa did like the interpretations, but I would have preferred them done straight. It could have been much better, but I'm not offering any suggestions. The Smiths were such a great band, head and shoulders above all the others, and deserve a better tribute. The stage was set with a last supper on the left (the tablecloth to be used in the action) with a large wall with door behind, and what looked like a radio half way up. To the right was a coffee table area with mirrored 'changing room' and behind that on a raised platform, the string quartet in DJs (the cellist did look a bit like Mozza in profile!). Behind them was a projection, mostly of a young boy stripped to the waist - a bit too homo-erotic for my taste. Sitting at the side of the Royal circle, we couldn't see this at first, so moved to more central seats - there were plenty of empty ones to choose from. I have no idea what the dance was all about (never understood the language of dance!), the retching and falling over, nor the spoken word stuff, but the songs were superb, though despite what it says in the Guardian review, we never got the title song, nor any of Mozza's wittier pieces. The Colonnade next door to the theatre does a fine pint of Harvey's - a real foamer. And it's the place to spot celebs - as well as members of the cast (we asked why no trapeze at the Theatre Royal?), Ardal O'Hanlon from Father ted was holding court as we left.

Preston Place

New flats built on historic site are courting controversy: 'The mock Tudor mansion, built in the Thirties for the family who owned the Palace Pier, was a Brighton landmark because of its position on the main artery into the city.' I've been photographing this development, which takes up every inch of the land where the house and gardens stood.

Argus review of Nyman

Nyman does little to enhance his profile, says Karen Dugdale, who didn't enjoy the subtlety of Monday's show.


Mark Power exhibition

A system of edges. Call me old fashioned, but I'm still not sure about exhibitions of photographs in art galleries. Books is where they should be IMHO. One of the great charms of the recent Henri Cartier-Bresson exhibition at the Dean Gallery in Edinburgh was seeing his original photos, in various shapes and sizes (mostly small) and tints, alongside the magazines they were reproduced in. The accompanying new prints next door with their uniform large formats and tonal range, looked sterile in comparison. Mark Power's exhibition at the University of Brighton Gallery is a set of photos taken just off the map, one for each of the pages that fringe the edge of the A-Z Atlas of London. He's a bit of a completist - he sets himself an arbitrary systematic task, and when it is complete, like a stamp collection, so is the artwork - a past project was to document all the areas mentioned in the BBC shipping forecasts. The pictures themselves show often quirky bits of suburbia, unpeopled, and though cleverly composed lacking the wit of fellow Magnum photographer Martin Parr. As a piece of conceptual art, obvious comparisons include 'The Great Bear' by Simon Patterson, which takes Frank Pick's schematic underground map of London, with each station a 'star' be it a philosopher, footballer, scientist or actor. The A-Z atlas was covered coincidentally this week by Map Man (BBC2) Nicholas Crane, who investigated some of the spoof streets they include to protect their copyright. The underground map was covered in the last series of Map Man. (Incidentally, I once worked with Nick Crane many years ago at an architects in Gomshall called Hutton + Rostron.) The A-Z is undoubtedly an icon of London (a 2D colour-coded schematic with widened streets, flat green spaces and little else). But I do think it a little London-centric in an Iain Sinclair psychogeography sort of way, to say a trip beyond the limits of the map is 'a journey into the unknown'. Powers lives in Brighton, for goodness sake, and was born in Harpenden. But maybe it's the artspeak-bollocks-writing curator to blame? The photos themselves are OKish and some would make good postcards, though Caravan Gallery do it much better! I'd just like to see a little more effort - drawing or painting the suburbs, perhaps, like George Shaw, seen last week in the excellent The Secret of Drawing series, also on BBC2, who meticulously draws, from photos, banal suburban scenes around Nottingham nooneelse would think of recording. Don't get me wrong, I love photography, and I don't want to diss a fellow Brighton immigrant, especially now he's a Prof at Brighton university, but photography just seems too easy. Let's have some real painting and drawing on show for a change, after all there's even some (by Gillian Carnegie) in the Turner Prize this year!


Low-tide dash

Low-tide dash, originally uploaded by fred pipes.

Did a completely mad thing last night - took part in the Brighton to Hove low-tide cycle dash! We gathered at Black Rock by the marina and walked our bikes down the pebbles to the exposed (just!) sand at around 6.20. It didn't look doable (some had done it before a few weeks back), I confess, but we headed off anyhow, dodging rocks, quicksand, sewage outlets (probably), surges of tide, deep water around the groynes, the lost rivers of Brighthelmstone, and later the lines of sea bass anglers. Got my feet completely soaked (and probably ruined my vegetarian shoes), and my bike was sounding very rusty, but it was great to cycle underneath the Palace (Brighton) Pier and get right up close to the collapsed part of the West Pier. I chickened out just inside the Hove border at a groyne too far, went squelching home to change socks and shoes and was late for the NUJ AGM - sorry comrades! More photos (in the dark!) on Flickr. Probably won't see you next time!


Michael Nyman

Michael Nyman, originally uploaded by fred pipes.

I used to have a head massage to Gattaca or Carrington (it's Lemon Jelly these days) and last night's concert by Michael Nyman at the Dome was an aural massage. There was the odd thumping piece, reminiscent of his early pounding classics like The Draughtsman's Contract and Zed and Two Noughts but mostly it was how slow can you go with his recent film works from 1993 onwards: Wonderland, Diary of Anne Frank and his greatest hit, The Piano. It was as the ticket said: The Piano Sings. Like Man with the Movie Camera at the Festival Hall back in 2002, he played along to black and white films: first off a series of East End photos by Phil Maxwell, then at the end of the first half (over a backing track) to Paul Strand and Charles Sheeler's poetic Manhatta, complete with Titanic lookalike and fabulous steam engines. At the end of the second half (after songs from The Piano) we had Jean Vigo's surrealist A propos de Nice, and then a couple of encores. In between was a distracting blank blue screen (echoes of Derek Jarman?), but after the disappointment of my last Nyman outing, to Man and Boy: Dada at the Almeida last year, this was sublime. And I even got him to autograph my new CD in the Colonnade bar afterwards.


Catalyst Club

Another top 3-quid's worth at the Catalyst Club last night down the Joogleberry: a large prossie in tight corset called Letitcia talking about hiring male escorts at £250 an hour to pleasure her (or not!), some amusing anecdotes from 'Brighton's only full-time musician' and Arthur Brown's fiddler Nick Pynn (who also played with Rich Hall, Steve Harley and B*Witched!), playing not only the violin beautifully but also the Appalachian dulcimer (held together with gaffer tape) he built and 'cocolele' (made from half a coconut!) too - and Tim Pilcher, author of 'The Essential Guide To World Comics' talking about Indian comics! Plus a free CD of ape-related tunes. Shame about the 'beer'!


Ray Davies at The Dome, Brighton

An unexpected pleasure last night when Curtis Tappenden phoned me to say he had a spare ticket for Ray Davies at The Dome (a ticket I'd tried to buy, but was sold out). Seats not great for views but the sound was crisp and clear. He came on (late) after an unannounced support act without ceremony and started to sing, soon joined by a full electric band. The first half was mainly new stuff, plus songs from the Muswell Hillbillies and his 'flop cult' album The Village Green Preservation Society: 'Picture book' and 'Johnny Thunder' and the odd hint of a 'retro' session to come. In the second half, he did most of The Kinks hits, some acoustic, some electric, ending with encores of 'Lola', 'Waterloo sunset' and - with barking dog guitar (but not a patch on Dave's) - 'You Really Got Me' which got the mainly oldster audience standing and dancing in the aisles. Not as much chat as when I saw him acoustic in Edinburgh a couple of years ago, but Ray is a national treasure and long may he rock. Curt was sketching throughout! Spotted Bob Mortimer outside afterwards with mini-skirted dolly bird in kinky boots, far too young to have remembered the originals...


Sir Henry at Steyning

Sir Henry at Steyning, originally uploaded by fred pipes.

Sir Henry at Rawlinson End by Vivian Stanshall adapted by Nick Linfield, performed by The Orion Players at Steyning Grammar School. What an excellent night out! Paul Cemmick drove and we found it thanks to Google maps, which oddly enough didn't show the school (it doesn't show railway stations either!). After we'd worked out the system of beer tickets, met Robert Rankin, the noted author, and secured seats on the front row. Great fun: Sir Henry was just right (once he'd found the corrrect moustache) and the song and dance routines were wonderful (loved Reg Smeeton's guitar solo to a Nice and Tidy song). Lots of ukulele action, and a good smattering of Bonzo songs to sing along to including 'Hunting Tigers out in INDIAH', 'Sport (The Odd Boy)', 'Look out, there's a monster coming', 'My *partner* makes the noises for the talkies' (by Nice and Tidy), 'I'm Going To Bring A Watermelon To My Girl Tonight'... along with Viv favourites like '*Scrotum* keeps his clips on'! I don't know the Sir Henry scripts verbatim, but recognised many great lines from the radio series and film, tho strangely the one about 'If I had all the money I spent on alcohol, I'd spend it on alcohol' wasn't included (someone's going to tell me now it wasn't even in Sir Henry!). A fine tribute to the ginger English genius. Edinburgh next year? I hope so - go and see it tonight or tomorrow! More photos on Flickr - they're a bit static cos the moving ones were all blurred cos of low light!



Bill's, originally uploaded by fred pipes.

Brighton changes by the day and a whole new 'cultural quarter is opening up around the new library. There's a Starbucks opposite Wagamama, now Bill's Produce Store @ The Depot - Brighton's latest foodie emporium - has opened down the road, straight from its success in Lewes. Wonder how long the Foam Shop (formerly The Red Lion) will be around?

Patrick Caulfield RIP

Patrick Caulfield was one of my favourite painters. Saw a couple of retrospectives: at the Tate and the Serpentine - every picture a gem.

Price of pint proves costly

Price of pint proves costly: "Pub goers in Sussex are paying some of the most expensive prices for a pint of beer in the UK." Too right! - I paid £3.60 for a pint of young-person's continental lager at the Fortune of War the other night when down there for a BiG meeting at Castor and Pollux! No proper beer was being offered. I'm sure they used to do Harveys...

Brighton Critical Mass

Brighton Critical Mass, originally uploaded by fred pipes.

Brighton Critical Mass on 30 September 2005 approaches the Palace Pier. A bit blurred cos of low light! Around 50 people took part. More photos on Flickr.