Creative Turf Wars
(Originally published in Giraffe Magazine on 27th Jan 2013)
OH I do like to live beside the seaside, oh I do like to live beside the sea but London does have better poetry nights!
For aeons tribes have clashed over such important issues as Mastodon hunting grounds, empire-building and Mods vs. Rockers but none so significant as whether a creative should live in Brighton or London? Both cities hum with cultural movements, kooky pastimes and favourite drug/alcohol combinations (Gin & MDMA in Brighton, Vodka and cocaine in London). Both cities have their preferred creative fields; London is all graphic design, poetry and film-makers whereas Brighton harbours more novelists, live-artists and film extras.
‘The Bohemian War’ (I made that name up, I’m quite good at naming things. Contact me for commissions yeah?) has deserters on both sides with Londoners coming to enjoy the thrift shops and fire poi and visa versa Brighton types all head up town for real gigs and artistic opportunities. The problem is that people from London will admit how much they like Brighton but believe you shouldn’t live there whereas Brightonian’s hatred of the capital city borders on comical. I’ve researched why people here hate London so much and it’s because Chris Eubank and Neil Buchanan don’t live there, sorry London!
Each side has their own argument which usually comprises a list of the quirkiest parts of their respective cities as if they were stakes being raised in a high profile poker game. “I’ll see your North Laine and Pride Festival and raise you Camden Market and the Pigeon Man! I went to a poetry night with Jam Baxter & Inua Ellams in the toilet duct of Tate Modern, FULL HOUSE!” Londoners cry. “Well I saw Dizraeli and Bonobo play live on the nudist beach with a robot made from shipping containers, ROYAL FLUSH!” Brightonians reply.
Nothing splits the two conurbations more than comedy though with London hosting every comedian worth their salt from Tim Allen to Reggie Watts, Jack Whitehall to Daniel Kitson on every single night of the week whereas Brighton has a dedicated, grassroots comedy community but most larger gigs are beset by Hens & Stags screaming at Stewart Lee to “TELL MORE JOKES”. I once went to a comedy night in Camden hosted by Richard Tyrone-Jones which not only had tea and biscuits at the start but you got a free glass of wine afterwards! Brighton, despite not having free wine, does offer a more earthy comedy experience where you see people honing their craft, trying out new material and looking like they’re having a lot of fun doing it. With lots of things but comedy especially Brighton is more organic whereas London is slightly manufactured, Infinity Foods vs. Pret a Manger?
Essentially the thorny Brighton vs. London issue boils down to two factors, firstly people move to Brighton because of it’s cultural heritage but don’t earn enough money and either commute to London or whinge about how all jobs are in London whilst sunning ourselves in cheap luxury with Tuaca mojitos. The other factor is London can be a crass place, sure it’s full of soul and exciting distractions, but the way of life can be tiring which leads to a resentment of the festival vibe of the South Coast. Neither issue matters because the whole argument can be summed up as follows, Brightonians are smug, Londoners are arrogant.
The most important thing to remember is you can be successful anywhere now as long as you engage in local scenes, every town and hamlet in the country has cultural significance and the internet only enhances this. Cities like Liverpool, Bristol, Cardiff and Hull…well the first three anyway, show it’s the people not the city who make somewhere exciting and successful. Brighton and London will forever be locked in a battle of wits but whilst there is some faux animosity they bring a lot to each other. London may harbour some of the best museums and galleries in the world, but only Brighton has the Booth Museum!
In short, you don’t have to move to London but it helps!