Illustration by Bruce Angrave

Summer’s Here – Strike up the Band


West Hill and the Seven Dials are steeped in the history and stories of residents, past and present, and we are enjoying publishing Tony Hill’s memories of hi

s childhood in the Seven Dials (thanks to Chris Berry for sending them to us) and were tickled to receive a letter from James Caulfield, the present occupant of 42 Dyke Road.

Have you ever thought about who lived in your house before you did?   Do you have any memories to share with us so we can share them with the great Whistler readership?

In Features we report that the Brighton Toy and Model Museum is embarking on a 2-year project to collect memories from residents about dolls, teddy bears and construction toys.

The Whistler’s mission for the last 30 plus years has been to share news and views of local residents. We’d love to hear from you.


Dear Editors

Firstly I would like to say I’m an avid regular reader of The Whistler. I love the local history and personal stories that you bring to life and so I’m pleased that The Whistler exists and that you share so many interesting stories with the residents of the Dials, a place I am proud to say I live.

I read the article entitled ‘The Animal Dispensary’ with particular interest. Tony Hill’s story was very amusing and honest, and I love stories about naughty kids, probably because I was one myself! I could picture the scenes of swinging dogs and escaping terriers very vividly indeed. Can you imagine the scene around the Dials as 100 dogs ran for freedom? Continue Reading »

Continuing the story of life in the Seven Dials by Tony Hill…

As if 100 dogs weren’t enough, we had two cats, both female, Toodles, a purebred Siamese, and Popsy, a tortoise-shell and white. Toodles was brought in to the pet shop as a kitten for treatment.

I’d better explain that in those days anyone could call himself an ‘Animal Practitioner’ and treat sick animals. Most pet shops did this and provided basic care. Dad had three treatments for dogs and cats: worming powder, flea powder and Epsom salts, I believe. He also doctored tomcats and put animals to sleep. Anything more complicated he referred to Mr. Balfour-Jones, an eminent vet who lived not far from the pet shop. He also had a weekend course of treatment for overweight dogs that had lost their appetites. They were locked in the cellar with a bowl of water, a bone and a brick. When they started on the brick they were cured, and returned to their owners, who were invariably delighted by the improvement in their pet’s appetite. Continue Reading »

Dear Editors

Surely those who ‘die for their country’ are entitled to know why?

It is understandable The Whistler should join the mass media publicity celebrating the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War by offering a brief overview of the ‘major new exhibition at the Brighton Museum and Art Gallery’ – ‘War Stories: Voices from the First World War’.

Personal stories and anecdotes from letters and postcards from the front line help recapture the everyday experiences of those who served – and indeed, it’s often humbling to recall sacrifices made by individuals who, although long dead, remain an essential part of the nation’s collective memory. Continue Reading »

Peter Batten has Romantic thoughts…

Do you know that beautiful song from the 1930s? It always reminds me of those years in the 1950s when I was learning to play jazz. There were certain songs that I wanted to be able to play and this song was high on the list. It also reminds me that by the 20th century the word ‘Romantic’ had become meaningless. Anything could be ‘Romantic’: a perfume, a view, a novel, a dinner by candlelight, a song, a picture…

But the word does have one meaning which is very significant. During the 18th century an important change in the culture of Europe and North America began to emerge. Eventually the word ‘Romantic’ began to be used and the new artistic movement was dubbed ‘Romanticism’. By the middle of the 19th century the movement was considered to be dying. Not everyone agreed, but after World War I many critics began to use the term, ‘Modernism’ to describe a new cultural movement which, they felt, had replaced Romanticism. But has the era of Romanticism really passed? In my literature teaching in recent years I have found myself frequently involved in discussions of this question. My belief is that we are still in that era. Continue Reading »

Off! Off! Off!

During a screening of ‘The Exorcist’ in La Pampa cinema in Rio de Janeiro in 1974, the audience was entirely distracted by a rat scampering to and fro before the screen. What little attention they were paying to the film was further diminished when an usherette appeared and pursued the rat with a mop.

Since this blocked the audience’s view and completely ruined a crucial vomiting scene of religious significance, the usherette and the rat were greeted with disgruntled cries of “Get ‘em off, get ‘em off!” Continue Reading »

Audience Power

Cavaleri-at-tableIn 2011 something extraordinary happened in our city. For many years up to 200 people turned up on six Sunday mornings each winter for a concert in the Old Market in Hove, later at St Nicholas, Brighton. The performers were almost entirely string quartets, usually of world-class standard. Then, for financial reasons, the whole thing folded. Instead of bemoaning the loss, a group of audience members decided the concerts were too important to lose, formed an association, called it Strings Attached, and approached Andrew Comben at Brighton Dome and Festival with the idea that, if he would provide the venue, Strings Attached would provide the audience. He said he would and agreed to engage the players too. Continue Reading »


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