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Posts Tagged ‘hove’

Leaving Boundary Road behind, I launched into new territory, walking along Portland Road – a long street, parallel to the coast. I was now in Hove. In the popular imagination, Hove is the posh bit, all majestic streets of villas sweeping down to the seafront, last of the rich widows and ‘The old rock ‘n’ roller / With his two-seater stroller’ out with his kids. However it isn’t all like that. Portland Road has a utilitarian feel, with the same kind of shops that can be found in virtually any town. It’s a place to buy hardware, place a bet, drink beer. I wandered along it, keeping to the shady side as the sun rose higher.

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The former Granada cinema, now not even a bingo parlour, has become a rotting hulk.

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Jamie Reid’s Situationist-style Sex Pistols graphics are quoted on this cute Royal Wedding tea towel. Meanwhile a sign on a nearby church combined an Nth-generation version Keith Haring copy with some clip-art to make a Royal Wedding poster. #artschoolsnarkiness

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Some things

Reaching Sackville Road, I looked at a small square with a couple of shops – one of those where wind blows leaves and trash around in little eddies and whirlpools. I remembered being out with mum and buying a comic there once, OMAC (One Man Army Corps) issue 2 ‘edited, written and drawn’ by Jack Kirby in 1974. I had avoided Kirby’s work up until then, preferring artwork that looked realistic and detailed to his blocky, streamlined work. With this comic I finally got it (or as Kirby might have written, ‘WITH THIS ISSUE I FINALLY ‘GOT IT’!!!) and spent the next few years reading Kirby almost exclusively, channeling his raw pop mythology. That long-ago story felt topical in the week of a Royal Wedding, featuring as it did a city being hired for a party.

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There’s a neat analysis of this story here.

Walking the virtually empty streets of Hove I doubled back into New Church Road. Many years ago when I was 5 I spent a few months in the ‘Children’s Unit’ of what was then the Lady Chichester Hospital. This was an unsettling time and I had imagined that, standing on the site with the perspective, power and freedom of an adult, I would (symbolically) dismantle the place down to the ground. But time had done the job already and it was transformed into something else.

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I turned back to the route. There were drifts of blossom on the pavement, like confetti from a vast wedding…

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…not some tawdry affair with a mundane prince, but something big and meaningful – perhaps the nuptials of the 50-Foot Woman from the posters adorned my route that morning…

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Station Road and Boundary Road are actually the same street. As I understand it, as far as Portslade is concerned it is Station Road but from a Hove point of view it is the Boundary. Or it could be the other way round.

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It was pretty empty on a sunny Bank Holiday morning. I have known this street as long as I can remember, and have noticed many changes. In recent years cafes and eating places have proliferated along with an ethnic mix unknown back in the days of the Wimpy Bar and Bistro Edward. (Having said that there was a Russian restaurant for a while in a side street.)
I had a coffee in Sami Swoi, one of a chain (I think) named after a Polish comedy film. (On the menu it translates it as ‘All of Us’.) Then for old times’ sake I walked down one side and up the other, crossing and recrossing ‘boundary’ and ‘station’, between the names.

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Some spiritual writers refer to ‘thin places’ – where the dividing line between the ordinary and the sacred is permeable. ‘Celtic’ sites such as Lindisfarne are frequently-used examples. For me Boundary Road is exactly that kind of liminal place, though I would struggle to provide and evidence. Although… this is the place where one finds the headquarters of The Fifth Element – aether, the Quintessence, the pure substance breathed by the gods themselves, beyond change – sited next to ‘grace’. Maybe that counts.

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I recently discovered some video art pieces I made at art school back in the 80s, in a catalogue on the web. Lux were kind enough to digitise these for me and I’ve loaded a couple on to YouTube.

On re-viewing one of these, ‘Redtown’, I realised that its mythologising of place and self was a kind of psychogeography – and that I’m aiming to walk the filmed street again, toward the end of this journey – so I’m sticking it on here for your viewing pleasure and to fill in time until I do some actual walking again.

It has decayed over decades of storage on a tape that was already a copy, followed by conversion into various formats. What remains, like Burroughs’ ‘dream slipping away from me, receding into the past, dim, jerky, far away’ – barely qualifies as a memory. But it’s also a container of memories, including some I had forgotten (eg being scared at the idea of snakes and ladders as I thought the box contained the real items.) I do remember that the idea of a ‘real’ town-within-a-town known only to locals came to me in a dream, and that the name ‘redtown’ probably came from having recently red Dashiell Hammett’s Red Harvest.

The clip is a fragment of a longer piece. I was too young to realise that less is more, so basically put in everything I could think of. There’s another six minutes, during which you get to meet the Devil and learn about entropy and the Heat Death of the Universe. As you may have gathered, I find it hard to watch (though think what you were doing 25-30 years ago and imagine putting it on display via a planetary computer – it may not be pretty.) However I do like some bits, such as the super-parochialism of making it about ‘Portslade and West Hove’, as if even the rest of Hove was some kind of here-be-dragons, terra incognita blankness. And I rather admire my youthful counterpart’s total scorning of technique, just poking the giant camera (a model called a KY2000, which seemed hilarious at the time) from the window of a car.

A live version of Redtown was probably my first piece of performance art, in a pre-Arches incarnation of the Zap Club in the Royal Escape basement. My droning, tangential tale was hideously inappropriate for a bar-room audience, leading compere Ian Smith to ‘hate this man [ie me] more than anyone else on earth’ and think ‘he [me] was the worst man in the world’ – though his stance later softened to the point where we lived under the same roof for a while and I once appeared, naked, in one of his performances, stabbing his minotaur character with a plastic sword.

A less overthought piece, Fireman Jack, is also on YouTube:

Back in the present day, I’m hoping to resume the walk from Stafford in early August.

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