Friday, 29 February 2008

The Great Escape launch party

As I may have mentioned before one of the perks of my jobs is getting invited to all sorts of dos, and last night was the launch party of the Great Escape festival. For those not in the know the Great Escape is a 3 day music festival where hundreds of bands will play in various venues across the city on the 15th,16th and 17th May. It's a great oppurtunity to see some great acts in intimate venues before they hit the big time.

When we first arrived I was surprised not to know anyone there as usually you see the same faces at these opening of an envelope events, so I assume that these people must have all been groovy music folk. Although we did meet a chap from the Ocean Rooms and I recognised a lady from Pride but that was about it.

Anyway after we had all picked up a complimentary glass of Tuscan Mule and munched on a mini chocolate brownie, one of the organisers of the event came on stage to intoduce the Festival. Unfortunately although he kept saying he was very excited about it, he didn't actually sound like he was, perhaps he wasn't used to public speaking as it was quite difficult to hear him and he was umming and erring quite a bit as well. He then brought Jay Jay Pistolet on to the stage, who will be one of the acts playing at the festival. He sang a couple of acoustic guitar tracks, although he seemed a little embarrassed as people weren't paying that much attention to him. We were particularly annoyed as there was a trio of tall guys stood in front of us who weren't even listening, they were just having a chat, surely they could have stood at the back to do that rather than blocking us and giving the poor singer the impression that no one was interested?!

All in all I was a little disappointed as the evening did not reflect the excitement of the festival. I am a big fan of the Great Escape, I had a fantastic time last year, I saw about 15 acts over the three nights, manically running across the city to catch the next band. One of the best gigs I've ever been to was seeing the Pigeon Detectives during last year's festival, just before they became really popular and getting to see them in a small venue, soaking up the atmosphere and everyone bouncing around like idiots - great stuff. Clearly they did not need to sell the event to me, as I am already a fan, I've got my ticket and am raring to go. However for the uninitiated I doubt last night would have ignited their fire. Perhaps a more charasmatic and enthusiastic speaker would have helped, they could have also had a slideshow of images from previous years or better yet a montage of video clips. And while I really liked Jay Jay Pistolet's music it probably would have been better to have a more energetic act on to get the crowd jumping around and to start to generate a buzz of excitement about the festival.

Anyway as I said I still can't wait to go and there is still time to get your Early Bird 3 day passes to see if you can spot who will be the next big thing. So come on you know you want to!


Thursday, 28 February 2008

Seven steps to Brighton...

Did you know the final episode of M*A*S*H was aired today in 1983? Apparently, it was the most watched television program in history.

Which got me thinking about Alan Alda, which for some bizarre reason, then got me thinking about that 7 seven steps to Kevin Bacon thing. You know – that process where you need to trace a connection between a Hollywood actor to Kevin Bacon in a maximum of seven steps.

So I thought, hmm, can I get from Alan Alda (in M*A*S*H) to a Brighton connection in 7 steps? Well, knock me down with a line from Suicide is Painless, I did:

  • Alan Alda was in What woman Want with Mel Gibson
  • Mel Gibson was in Lethal Weapon with Danny Glover
  • Danny Glover was in The Color Purple with Whoopi Goldberg
  • Whoopi Goldberg was in Girl Interrupted with Angelina Jolie
  • Angelina Jolie was in Tomb Raider with Daniel Craig
  • Daniel Craig was in The Power of One with Morgan Freeman
  • Morgan Freeman was in Driving Miss Daisy with Joan Plowright, who

    Lives in Brighton…!
I'm off to put my 'smart a***' pants on now...


Wednesday, 27 February 2008

What musical bus genre would you choose?

I was sat on the bus last night and moved 3 times. It seemed as though the vehicle was teeming with hormonal teenagers, looking as though the end of the world was nigh (maybe they'd had prior warning of the imminent earthquake?!). The cacophany of deafening Ipods and mobile phone ringtones was so loud, I felt in dire need of my spongy Boots earplugs (or a large hammer). Which made me think of Caitlain Moran. Miss Moran, if you remember, was a big whig in musical journalism in the 90s and now writes for the Times. I met her once and she was lovely, and, dip me in honey and throw me to the teenagers with their raucous Ipods, she's VERY funny. I'm clearly not alone in my irritation at bus music polution. Alas, these are her words not mine!

'Let’s face it – we cannot uninvent the “teenager sitting behind you playing music on its mobile phone”. The genie is out of the bottle. Trying to end it would be as futile as trying to ban Brylcreem in the 1950s. Or sexually hysterical fainting in 1874.

What, then, we need is a pragmatic approach to the phenomenon. A logical attack. My suggestion is that, with immediate effect, we divide the nation’s buses into five categories – rock, R&B & urban, MOR, classical, rolling news – and stipulate all mobile phone use on buses concur with the designation. That way, anybody not wishing to get on the r’n’b bus can wait four minutes, and get on a bus more likely to play For Your Babies by Simply Red, instead.

As each bus’s “vibe” will be clearly stipulated, the whole thing would become effortlessly self-policing: there are few, I would imagine, brave enough to start blasting out the latest news from the Nasdaq on the “rock” bus. Obviously, every five years or so, the categorisation would have to be reassessed, in line with musical trends.

Should the reemerging psychedelic folk scene ever achieve chart dominance, for instance, a fleet of Six Organs of Admittance buses would have to be rushed into service – but only on longer routes, obviously, as all the songs last at least 15 minutes...'



Friday, 22 February 2008

The time is now...

Well as I am typing this it is exactly 2.32pm

Earlier Sarah was anxious to know what the exact time was and so ended up consulting the speaking clock, which reminded me of a bizarre Brighton related fact

Did you know that the current voice of the Speaking Clock is Sara Mendes de Costa from Hove who won a competition to become the new voice of the speaking clock as the judges felt that her voice fitted the criteria of: clarity, character and easily understandable

However the bizarre bit is that her predessor, Brian Cobby was from Brighton! So far he is the only man to voice the speaking clock, and Brian also recorded the Thunderbirds countdown.

Well there you have it, not quite sure what that says about us, except perhaps that we are good at telling the time and counting things?!

If you would like to know any more Quirky Facts about Brighton & Hove we have a lovely fact sheet on that very topic although let me know if I've missed any off...


Thursday, 21 February 2008

The names Bond, James Bond...

After my post yesterday about Genevieve someone else in the office started blinding us with all the Brighton Bond links and, blimey, there are enough to shake a dagger shoe at!

Here are our favs:

  • Timothy Dalton got all macho on Beachy Head in The Living Daylights

  • The mine in a View to a Kill was at nearby Amberley

  • Brighton resident Anna Quayle played Frau Hoffner in the original Casino Royale

  • Steven Berkoff, also a Brighton resident, played Russian General Orlov in Octupussy

  • Desmond Llewelyn (who played Q) used to live in Brighton

  • The music to Live and Let Die was composed by the one and only Mackers, who has a house in Hove

  • Ian Fleming recouperated from a heart attack in Brighton in 1951 and again from pleurisy in Brighton 1964

And winner for the most tenuous link ever - Simon Vance, who reads the Casino Royale audio books, was born in Brighton. Really, its true!

Quite franky, all these Bond references are making me want to rush home and play with my motion combat training simulator and exploding alarm clock. Oh, poo I can't - I blew it up at 7.01am this morning...

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

A Brighton National Treasure?

Did you know its Robert Altmans Birthday today? He'd have been 83 if he was still around. I love his ensemble films and having just lent a colleague Gosford Park, I started spouting forth to who ever would listen (which wasn't really anyone to be honest) about the merits of Genevieve, which I watched last night. No, not Genevieve Nnaji, the, practically never heard of by anyone but me, Nigerian actress, but rather the 1953 film comedy about veteran cars.

Hate cars? Would rather chew off your own ear than watch the London to Brighton Veteran Car run? Think again. This film is a gem! If it was a human being, it would be Michael Palin or Victoria Wood. Its quite simply the national treasure of British comedy... and yes, I've seen the Lavender Hill Mob and Titfield Thunderbolt. It conjurs up the differences between men and women perfectly and, excuse the terrible pun, but the cars really are just a vehicle for what are very worldwide themes - love, romance and good old fashioned competitiveness!

The history of it is really fun too - only a day was spent filming in Brighton, due to dire budgets and most shots of Genevieve being driven from behind masked the fact that it wasn't Genevieve at all - rather a mock up, which was actually pulling a lorry filled with the entire cast and crew - it was cheaper that way! John Gregson also couldn't even drive when he got the part - no-one had thought to ask.

So, why not check out the Special Edition DVD and you'll get the film as well as a fascinating documentary with these and lots of other filmic facts. Its a snip at £6.97!


Monday, 18 February 2008

Online booking

February seems to be an innovative month here at VisitBrighton as this time last year we launched our new online accommodation booking service and now you can start booking your train tickets online as well making it even easier for you to come and visit Brighton :)

Equally I was delighted becasue this also makes it easier for me to book my trips up to London, including going to see Editors next month, wahoo!

Well there you go just a quick one from me today but it makes you wonder what we'll introduce in February 2009 though......


Wednesday, 13 February 2008

A quiet Tuesday night

Well I haven't written anything on here for a while and now you are getting two posts in as many days, aren't you lucky?!

Last night my friend and I had planned to meet for a drink at the Bath Arms which is in the Lanes, however she found out that the Brunswick has an open mic night on a Tuesday so she wanted to go there instead. So I said as she was driving over from Eastborne could she pick me up from my flat in Hove and then I could direct her to the pub, unfortunately she doesn't really know the area and I am hopeless at directing people as I never drive anywhere. So in the end I said not to worry she could pick me up from Brighton Pier instead.

Anyway I am glad that we did decide to do this as I ended up walking, and I cut down in order to walk along the seafront from the Peace Staute (any excuse to include this image, I love it - well done Sarah!) which was great as there were not many people so I could march along and to my right I had the sea, which was very still and calm, it was a clear night so the stars were out and then to my left was the stunning architecture from the Regency Adelaide Cresecent, the art deco Embassy Court and the Victorian seafront hotels - The Metropole and the Grand

Then when I got to the Pier, I hopped into my friends car and we went to the Brunswick for the open mic night, which was free. All the acts had great voices and all seemed to be singing their own original material. Although I have to say my favourite was a chap who's name I've forgotten (sorry, it might have been Phil John?) who sang on his own with a guitar but I was particualry impressed as he did a trumpet bit without a trumpet a la Hugh Laurie in his A Bit of Fry and Laurie days, I was just waiting for Stephen Fry to come out and start mixing up a cocktail :)

All in all it was a great way to spend what would have otherwise been a quiet Tuesday night, and reminded me what a talented bunch of people live here!


Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Alternative ideas for the 14th February....

While some of us here at VisitBrighton have been getting all loved up and excited about Valentine's Day, there are others who view February 14th as just another day so here are some alternative ideas for things to do which do not include the L word or hearts...

Escape the smooching couples and visit the Theatre Royal Brighton which celebrated it's 200th anniversary last year. This week you can see Legal Fictions, a double bill of 'The Dock Brief' and 'Edwin' by John Mortimer. Coming from the creator of Rumpole of the Bailey you are sure to enjoy a night of wit and wisdom, the plays star award-winning actor Edward Fox.

Alternatively you could pop down to the country's oldest cinema The Duke of York's, they have big comfy chairs, home made cakes and they have a license so you can take your drink in with you while you watch the film. On Thursday they will be showing 'The Diving Bell and the Butterfly' which tells the remarkable true story of Jean-Dominque Bauby the editor of French Elle magazine who awoke from a coma with locked-in syndrome, so he was mentally alert but physically paralysed. He could only communicate by blinking and managed to learn a blinking code for the whole alphabet. Oh la la!


Monday, 11 February 2008

Your wake up call...

Just incase any of you with cats are thinking of neglecting them this Valentines (as you pay your other half extra special attention on the morning of the 14th)...BEWARE! You could be in for BIG trouble. Watch and learn cat lovers...

It's my cat to a tee and I nearly passed out laughing...

Or, if you want to make sure your cat still loves you, you could always feed it some raw oysters! Check out our VisitBrighton Romantic podcast to find out the proper way to eat these slippery little love inducers...


Thursday, 7 February 2008

Civil partnerships in Brighton

December 2005 was a milestone in the UK for gays and lesbians, when civil partnerships between same sex couples finally became a reality. As colourful Texan politician, Kinky Friedman, put it 'why not let 'em be as miserable as the rest of us'. Well quite! Although I'm not quite sure how I feel about being termed one of 'them'! Reminds me of a serial curtain twitcher called Gladys who used to live down my friend's road, who would pout knowingly, left eyebrow slightly raised, as she warned the milkman to keep his back to the wall at number 5, because the bloke inside was 'one of THEM'...

Thankfully, most of us have moved on since then and Brighon is such a gay mecca that I can now walk proudly down the street with a gay male friend as he brandishes a newly bought bright pink hyacinth to all and sundry. (Not that people take much notice in Brighton. Our Head of Tourism walked to work this week and passed a man dressed head to toe in a bright silver boiler suit and no-one batted an eyelid.) In fact, I became so caught up in my friend's delight at the prospect of 'enormous pink blooms' and gorgeous bursts of aromas' that I bought one too. I even named it. (It's called Henrietta.) Its now sitting proudly on my desk - vying for the accolade of possibly the campest thing this side of Supermarket Sweep.

Anyway, I digress, going back to my original point, if you're getting all amorous on the lead up to Valentines and are thinking of embarking on a civil partnership, Brighton is right up there in the top places to get one. Think we're only number 2 to London in fact... I mean, we've got a thriving 'gay quarter', gay and lesbian hotels and even a great big ornate Palace for goodness sake!

You can find out more about gay Brighton and civil partnerships here.


Friday, 1 February 2008

Romantic Brighton film stars...

Well, I thought it might be cathartic to share with the world that I'm a bit upset today. According to VisitBrighton's Valentine's Quiz I'm about as romantic as a small time gangster and think Valentines is for losers. Hmm... And here I was thinking I was the female equivalent to Casanova. (Although he apparently ate 50 raw oysters a day to boost his libido so perhaps that's where I'm going wrong.) Yuck, the mere thought makes me feel far from amorous!

Anyway, I digress - check out the VisitBrighton Valentine's Quiz to see what I'm banging on about. You could win a scrummy 3 course meal at the New Steine French Bistro or a rather lovely VisitBrighton MP3 player with a romantic podcast on!

Hopefully you'll come out of it a bit more romantic than I did!


What's in the box?

We really are a mixed bunch here at VisitBrighton.... some like eating out and partying, some enjoy taking friends to our numerous local attractions, whilst a few of the team like to while aways the hours in the hunreds of shops that Brighton & Hove has to offer, and then there are the others who are into things that, well quite frankly, the Pope would disapprove of! (Note how there is no link for the latter activities!) :o)

I myself have a particular penchant for photography. So I was very happy to work on one of our latest little projects - our VisitBrighton Gallery that we have setup with the award winning print company Photobox.

We've taken some of our favourite Brighton and Hove images, and put them online, so that you can now purchase those them as prints or various photo gifts. We will add more images throughout the year.

The website if very easy to use, simply click on the image that you would like to buy, select which product you would like to order, enter the quantity and then add to your basket. Photobox deal with all of the card payments, printing and despatch, with prints normally arriving through your letter box a mere 48 hours after your order has been placed!

So whether you would like a seagull mug (with a personal caption) for your Auntie Bab's evening cocao, a Royal Pavilion mousemat, or just a good old fashioned print of seafront life for your lounge wall - head to our online gallery!