Wednesday, August 11, 2004

pride and packing

As Pete will testify, it's pretty appealing letting a boiling hot Saturday pass by without venturing into the centre of town, and we often manage it, leaving Churchill Square to the masses and the peruvian pipe bands. A sunny weekend in Brighton, naturally, seems to sap the space from the streets and the air from the pavements, as London spills over into the sea.

Last Saturday was gloriously bright and Brighton was more packed than ever - the result being the most sunny and cheerful Pride I can remember seeing. That said, I seem to have developed a habit, in recent years, of needing to go to the shops on the morning of the parade. So on Saturday, when everyone else was standing, grinning in the sun watching all manner of colourful and interesting floats, I was pushing my way through the crowd trying to get to Churchill Square. Still, last year I had to buy a suitcase and was forced to struggle back through the crowds with it. This time my shopping list was more compact.

All the same, it seems as if every year I am the only person battling to get to the shops (it really isn't easy advancing up through town when there are upwards of 90,000 people on the streets), ironic when I spend the rest of the time trying to avoid it. Having got through, Churchill Square was like a graveyard, and eerily cool. In the shops I was frequently the only person in there (literally, as invariably the staff themselves were standing outside the door trying to see the parade). Leaving one shop I saw an elderly woman nearly bump into a shop assistant who had climbed on top of a stool so that she could see. The woman berated her, intensely, complaining that it was bad enough to have her path blocked by 'queers', let alone shopkeepers. Ahem.

Yet, (miserable old women aside) it's damn neer impossible to be intolerant about Pride. I saw gangs of lads standing with their faces broken into wide grins as they watched the floats pass, cheering and clapping along to the music. The synchronised dancing on the parade itself was, I need scarcely add, a joy to behold.

Ten hours later, the pubs operating late licenses, people kept fighting and falling over outside our flat. But I think that's what 12 hours of drinking does to you.

Meanwhile, we packed.

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