Archive for the ‘4 Gossips & Grumbles’ Category

This week Andrew Osbourne-Smythe gives us an insight into how he relaxes over a weekend.

Commuting can take its toll on the nerves. Monday to Friday I have to suffer the constant rudeness of people invading my half of the train seat arm rest in an enduring territorial battle not unlike the pointless Great War; the endless typing of neurotic sadists out to rile me; the idiotic chatter of telly addicts from Preston Park; the deliberate broadcast of tuneless bleeps set to override my classical music and the messy pastry flaking bombs exploding from the mouths of pie-eating thugs of Haywards Heath. Thank God for the peaceful weekends in West Hill.


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After 20+ years at the Seven Dials, Kevin John of Classic Cuts at 64 Dyke Road is hanging up his scissors and returning to his home town of Liverpool. Kevin has cut hair across many generations of Brightonians – many of his clients were brought in as children to have their hair cut, they continued as adults, and then brought in their kids for Kevin’s famous cuts. He’s been a sounding board and a father confessor to many. We’ll miss him.
The wonderful thing about the Dials is that it keeps going round and round (let’s hope that continues once all the road lanes have been narrowed) and so it’s goodbye to Kevin but hello to Alex Burt, who has opened Teddy Edwards Barbers at 83 Dyke Road – just opposite Classic Cuts. Alex has a great smile – he will fit right in!

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Lianne Hall, who runs the Music Club at West Hill Hall and deals with all the bookings, is warmly welcomed back to Seven Dials after a 3 month writer-in-residency at an Arts Centre in Germany.

Bay TreeRichard Ford, an ex-postie who used to live in Centurion Road and who normally delivers The Whistler, has been ill for the past few months so we’ve had a series of other helpers braving all weathers to deliver the paper to our readers, including your editor, Colette. On one of her rounds, she spotted this amazing bay tree in Clifton Street, along with many other exotic trees which grace the gardens in the road. If you’re the owner of this magnificent beast do drop us a line and tell us how long you’ve been growing it.

Last edition we wrote about Kevin Freeman’s designs for Santa’s Tickly Tale at the Imabic Arts Theatre. The show went really well, great review in The Argus and on ChildFriendlyBrighton.co.uk and the weekend matinees were sell-outs.

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Kevin Freeman

Kevin Freeman

I met Kevin Freeman at the Brighton & Hove Business Speed Networking show mentioned in the Oct/Nov edition and there was something about this stylish and gentle man that I wanted to find out more about. Kevin is the creative powerhouse behind Renaissance Design, a truly multi-talented Renaissance man, a dress, costume and installation designer. It’s only a hop, skip and a jump from the West Hill to Western Road where Kevin has his studio on the top floor above Fabric Land.

He creates bespoke bridal gowns, evening wear, costumes for singers and actors (including Frances de la Tour, Saffron Burrows and Ralph Little when he worked for the BBC, and more recently for Suzie Kennedy – the world’s No 1 Marilyn Monroe impersonator – Katherine Ellis, Sandie Shaw, Carol Harrison), and installations for many different events. His wedding dresses are not for blushing brides – he’s had many weird and wonderful commissions from people who want something different and eye-catching. “When I was little I used to have a set of Disney books and I remember drawing medieval princesses with pointy hats on the fly covers of them,” Kevin says. “I’ve always been interested in clothes and design and colours.” His bridal gowns start at £1500 and he designs to the specifications of his customers, who come in all shapes and ages but have one thing in common, they want their fun and adventurous characters to be reflected in the creations that Kevin designs for them. You’ll have to allow at least 6 months if you want Kevin to make you a wedding dress, but it’s normal for most people to start planning their big day 12-18 months in advance.

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Pizza Girl is on holiday this month but we have an exclusive and probing interview by 8-year-old Hermione Fisher-Gate of Guildford Road with our MP Caroline Lucas.

Caroline Lucas

Caroline Lucas

Are the queues long at the Westminster canteen? Do they have vegan options of the day?
I haven’t spent a great deal of time there so far – the odd rushed coffee! I’m not vegan, but I’m campaigning for meat-free Mondays in all of Parliament’s canteens.  I’m much more likely to snatch a sandwich and eat at my desk.

What is your office like? Does it come furnished?

It’s an older building, so it doesn’t have quite the flash modernity of Portcullis House where many MPs have offices but it’s got more space, so much more practicable.

When you won the election you were seen jumping for joy. Do you think this is correct behaviour for someone of your elevation?
I’m not sure if I was jumping for joy that much as I was pretty exhausted after the campaign and staying up so late – after all, it was around 6am when the result was declared at the count.  But, yes, I was obviously thrilled to have been elected so must, I’m sure, have shown some emotion.

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Pizza Girl is currently away completing her regeneration of St Leonards-on-Sea. In this edition we welcome new West Hill Road resident and guest gossip writer, Dame Hermione Leigh-Rant D.F.L.

Phew! What a special super, sizzling, sun-soaked summer it has been. Over in sweet little St Leonards-on-the Sea Pizza Girl and her house guest Biggins have had whole beaches to themselves virtually, but give me the tumultuous heady whirl, the raucous racy riot of hedonistic happy hubbub of the West Hill Dials. The Brighton mantra to be seen and be seen has never been more evident, as I sit sipping my triple thick avocado cocktail outside Foggs-Rat and Trumpet-Couch Bar-Compton Arms. We salute the terrifically tattooed and tanned who process past like catwalk predators.

This will be my new favourite corner to people-watch. From here I can see the comings and goings of the trendinista Tin Drum cognoscenti, eating their flavoursome portions of field-to-plate specialities; or the refined after-meal Blenio sophisticats intensely drawing smoke into their scarred lungs with a satisfaction and fulfilment only matched by the satiating taste experience of a crème brulée. To my right, Cafe Lyons flies the flag for the last remnants of bacon and egg culture; and, next door, the sentinel purple of Moorish hosts to mysterious Moroccan delights of tangy tangines.

This cute, culinary cornucopia that is our beloved Dials capriciously continues its culinary-world catering convention. Thai to the left and the right, Sudanese Pizza, Szechuan Chinese and Kebabylon Hallal all straight ahead, and all spectacularly flanked by the Duke of Sandwich, Japanese noodles and tooty fruiting Anglo Italian. Outside of Paris, Istanbul and Oxford, and perhaps London and also, perhaps, New York and Toledo, where else could you experience such foody festival fun on your doorstep? Not even dire, tired, windswept Preston Street in its calorific hey day could match the ambivalent ambience of our wonderful homey inner city ghetto of tasty treats.

We may eulogise but why not? Let’s sing out, let’s praise style and innovation: the Grape and the Grain, the Spar, and the Dog Grooming Parlour of yesteryear, our Pubs and Insurance shops, post offices and posture chair suppliers. Hair by Yvonne and the dividend of not one, but two, Co-operative supermarkets. We have the architecture, the heritage and pound-swelling proximity to the station, London, Marks and Waitrose and, of course, the sea and KFC. Oh, the sea. Brighton’s raison d’être; our lung and our bowel; our horizon and our memento Kodak. Citizens of the West Hill Dials, I salute you all, one and all, and everyone to a woman and some men. Let’s rise up and fight to regain our rightful place on this year’s Guardian Cappuccino Index, (out next month). Celebrate our community because our community deserves new contemporary street lighting and street sculptures. Don’t let us be forgot lest we forget them and property prices stop their spiralling, effervescent cork-popping, fizz-bang for your buck journey to cloud nine. We are Little London-by-the-Sea and that is the way we want it to be.

Now as the nights draw in, our satiated bellies turn to the cosseted comfort of our stuccoed drawing rooms, where we sleep safely in the protective breast of our Green MP. We await new seasonal delights to adorn our pedicured muscular frames; Xmas lighting spectaculars; winter sales at local Fenwicks and Heals and, of course, chestnuts around a newly opened and restored gas fired open hearth. As I type, the leaves prepare to fall, crisp and golden and red and some yellow ones onto to the ground. The larks and robins, along with Pizza Girl, will have long flown to Marbella and Sitges on their journey into the warm heart of the sun. All is peaceful, all is calm, and even the local eateries have launched new, special, seasonal, locally-sourced menus. Go forth and enjoy. Hosannah Bongo.

Pizza Girl is back next edition, order your copy now.

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St George Cross Chair

Cross of St George hidden from view

We’re starting an occasional series, and we welcome your contributions to it. Send us images of things (objects, sights, people) that catch your eye round the Seven Dials, West Hill, or anywhere you live.

During the World Cup, there were many manifestations of the Cross of St George, the most striking one of which I spotted sitting proudly in the window of Posture People on Dyke Road. “I must go and get my camera,” I thought, “that really makes me chuckle.” No sooner had I got my camera next time I passed than England had been dumped, and this George Cross chair shoved, out of sight.

Flower display

Where are these flowers?

A simple, but elegant display, do you know who’s got these flowers in their window but does not sell flowers?


Pansies in a pot in a mug

And sticking with the floral theme, where can you spot these pansies in a pot in a mug?

Send your images and/or answers to whwhistler@aol.com

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