Treetops: Brighton Pier
From time to time I like to write creatively and this is part of a book I’ve been writing with the working title of Treetops. So, I thought I’d share it with you. Written in the first person, it’s a love story with a few twists and this is a scene set on the amazing Brighton Pier — one of my favourite go to places in my 30s. I hope you like it. If you want more leave me a message. Thanks.
I’VE always been in love with Brighton Pier. I blame it on Bob Hoskins. Remember him? British actor who, to coin a cliché, died too soon at the age of 71. Bear with me here, there is a point…sometimes it just takes me a while to get to it. What us journos call the dropped intro.
Well, Bob — I feel like I can call him Bob, not Sir Bob or Mr Hoskins, as he was what my dad would have called a real ‘salt of the earth’ kind of chap — starred in one of my all-time favourite movies — Mona Lisa — which was set in, you guessed it, Brighton.
The last few moments of this amazing film centre around the pier — shown in its full glory as Bob’s character tries to keep a prostitute safe from Michael Caine’s rabbit-loving mobster and his cronies. Yes, really. It’s not a comedy…honest.
Anyway, ever since then I’ve loved the place, so Brighton Pier was where we ended up that special day. Where many couples and would-be couples end up, watching the waves, playing the penny falls or, my favourite, the zombie apocalypse.
Some of us even stopped for a chocolate and chemical-covered waffle or fish and chips in a polystyrene tray — a uniquely British experience.
Combine this culinary adventure with whatever the weather gods decide to throw at you and it holds a strange charm all its own. Maybe something only us Brits can truly appreciate.
On this day, everyone and everything was out — tubby middle aged men with red paunches and bald patches in equal measure, teenagers lobbing chips at over eager gulls, adolescent parents peppering the air with expletives as ice-cream-covered toddlers strapped into buggies screamed their frustration, and women, so many women, feeling the need to give their flesh a good airing. Bliss.
On days like this, when the sun comes out, all of life comes out too. Wonderful — especially wonderful as we could put that amazing pastime into action. And that’s what we did. Sitting on a bench opposite the little ‘gypsy’ caravan, we were on Homo sapiens watch. We laughed a lot, we flirted even more. Buoyed on a sea of possibility.
The scene fades and I feel the lump in my throat tighten. It takes all my concentration to breathe down the sadness and go back to the seafront to a time when things were just beginning for us. But I do it.
Within 10 seconds I’ve travelled back to that pier — a move even Doctor Who with or without a TARDIS would be proud of.
I see the me of then. I’m laughing and squinting at the same time. Not my best look, but I’m actually trying to focus in the sunlight. It’s raining down on the pair of us as we tuck into one of those sweet polystyrene ‘delicacies’ complete with plastic fork.
Licking my lips, I hear the fork snap as it makes contact with the waffle. I turn and see it rattle around the polystyrene tray, squeaking as she tries to wrestle it under control. “Whoops,” she says, her eyes bright with mischief as they meet mine.
For one beautiful moment amid that silly, mad chaos of breaking plastic and seaside tackiness, we look at each other, into each other. Really look.
My heart, in true British gymnast form, completes a perfect routine worthy of a 10 and perfects its signature move — the double flip. I take a shallow breath in and feel myself shaking from the inside out.
My heart’s now reached Olympic standard. This is getting serious.
We laugh out loud — so loudly, in fact, that an elderly couple on the bench next to us stop eating their tray full of fish and chips, look over and smile too.
Leaning over conspiratorially the old guy, in his 70s maybe, tips us a wink and, from his pocket, produces half a dozen knives and forks. He passes one over .
“Always keep a spare few; must have broken dozens over the years,” he says, looking her in the eye. “Good to always be prepared, eh?” My eyebrow raises a little. Was he flirting just then? I look at his wife and she’s grinning.
If he is, my girl — can I call her that? Yes, my girl, doesn’t seem fazed by it. Beaming brightly, she takes the fork and says thank you, then attacks the waffle with renewed enthusiasm.
Then a weird thing happens and I’m fighting a losing battle as her long fingers curl around the cutlery.
Just to make things even more challenging, a stray strand of chocolate sauce attaches itself to her bottom lip. Before she can remove it, I’ve gone the colour of a lobster with high blood pressure. Everyone — and I mean EVERYONE — must know what I’m thinking.
I look around, anxiously waiting for the guffaws of laughter, the pointers. I hold my rather ragged breath. But nothing.
The elderly couple are currently reading the Brighton Evening Argos, engrossed in another story about a shortage of hospital beds. And she, completely unaware of my thoughts, is scraping the tray in a futile attempt to transfer the last bits of sauce onto her fork — an impossible task.
How can she make me feel so horny just by eating a chemical-covered waffle with plastic cutlery?
I allow myself a silent laugh.
‘I think it’s called love… to be in love’ a little voice tells me. My inner voice has spoken.