Monday, July 09, 2007

Hanover Day

Each year Hanover, perhaps the prettiest part of Brighton - a series of colourful, narrow interconnecting streets which clamber up the east side of the city - hosts an event called Hanover Day. It's a small, homely festival which plays on the strengths of the area, focusing on the bright and lively streetlife and the many awesome pubs. Two of the central roads are lined with small stalls, in effect a kind of outdoor jumble sale, and the churches and community centres are open and serving tea, cakes and unusual, spicy curries.

The stalls are always great fun, not least because Hanover residents often have a delicately bohemian bent, meaning their tables are laden with small surprises as well as junk. People seem to resist the urge to mark everything up, too, so the many boxes of books and records yield inexpensive delights - in the course of an hour or so's browsing I'm able to pick up nostalgic treats by Dinosaur Jr, Teenage Fanclub, The Blue Aeroplanes and a great collection of early Creation Records stuff, paying no more than a pound for anything.

Lots of the stands specialise in home made, or home grown produce; clusters of white-green spring onions, jars of garlicky salad dressing or fairy cakes topped with hundreds and thousands. Along the way stands can be spotted campaigning for justice for Palestine and against US intervention in Cuba, alongside the usual Labour and Green Party stalls. More surprisingly, at one point, warm in the rare July sun, I gingerly approach a stand piled high with books. Then a logo, printed on laminated paper and pinned to a bookshelf, catches my eye.

I start to retreat, recognising it as the blue and green logo of the party now branded with a small c: 'conservatives'. Rudely, I murmur, 'Oh, fuck', and instinctively give a filthy look to the blond guy standing there. The look he returns is no more generous, and we stand eyeing each other for a second, wrinkling our noses. I'm mildly offended by the way he looks at me, despite my initial rudeness. As we walk away Siobhán reminds me that he's probably looking at my specs, floppy fringe and brown cardigan and thinking 'fucking Guardian-reading liberal poseur', just as I am thinking 'disgusting Hanover-encroaching right-wing fuck'. Later, Siobhán sits bolt upright and cries 'that Tory wanker is a TV doctor', recognising him from sporadic appearances on This Morning.

We've retreated to the pub by then, alarmed by the unusual warmth and the prospect of getting caught up in a part of Southover Street which might spring to life with Morris Dancers at any moment. Cooled down a little, we take our beers out to the pavement and sit in the sun, admiring the many, grinning dogs climbing back up the hill as the party quietens. At one point a family emerge from the pub behind us and their little boy stands before us, smiling. He is wearing a t-shirt printed with a little waistcoat and a red neckerchief. Siobhán says hello to him.

'I like your T-shirt', I tell him, 'I wish I had one like that'.
'I'm a cowboy', he tells us, earnestly.
We both laugh.
He furrows his little brow and rebukes us. 'It's not funny'.

This year's Hanover Day has a Doctor Who theme. I bump into my friend Iain, who reminds me that the man who voiced the TV dog, K-9, lives on Washington Street. Perhaps it is his idea. We don't see any Dr Who stuff at all, except for one stand which stands in front of one of Hanover's pretty terraced houses. Hanging from the upstairs window is a sheet upon which a Tardis has been crudely painted.

The man running the stand looks disappointed that no-one else is getting into the spirit of the thing.

I really like Hanover Day.

3 comments:

Powerful Pierre said...

Sorry I missed it - didn't get home in time. Does anyone know why it was in July not August this year?

jonathan said...

I don't know - to get the benefit of the weather?

Shame you couldn't make it - we should go for a pint or even have a play in the next week or so; will drop you a line x

Anonymous said...

Sadly, the Doctor Who theme was not my idea, but I did manage to get the old tin dog, a full size Dalek, an 80s Cyberman and the TARDIS for the day... mostly in church to keep them a little safer... although the Dalek and Cyberman did go outside at various times... sad ya missed us!!