Yesterday I went to Brighton to catch a whiff of the Festival spirit. Everything is a-buzz with beautiful people. Brighton has, for some time now, been a very cool place to be, and not just as a playground for tired Londoners who want the life they had hoped for in London but easier, better, cheaper and with clean sea air. There is lots of good fringe activity all year round in the poetry, comedy and music scene, good cheap places to eat, and, if like me you live within reasonable driving distance, you can almost get everything you want (shops too, for those that like that sort of thing) without setting foot in London at all. Everyone was looking particularly exquisite last night in an out-to-party sort of way. There is a kind of Brighton chic that is hard to pin down – a way of standing in your black, sequinned vest with your slicked back hair as you drag on your cigarette outside heavenly café. A dusty glamour. Me? I wore my purple “crushed silk” (a.k.a. acetate shell-suit trousers found many years ago in charity shop) with cashmere jumper, red socks and black suede slip-ons. There is, must always be, a place for grunge. My hair, I think, did me proud. But more of this anon.
We went to the Dome to see a showing of the film Run Lola Run accompanied by a live soundtrack from The Bays. A couple of years ago it was The Battle of Algiers with music by the Asian Dub Foundation. Both brilliant. Anyone who has seen Run Lola Run will picture the running sequences which make up the bulk of the film – and Lola in her pale green jeans and sky-blue vest, her punk-red and orange hair flying back as her feet slap the ground and she tears through the city. The music, by anyone’s standards, was loud, with enough bass for it to feel as though it has come right into the body. I had come prepared with water bottle and drugs should my body wimp out on me, but it was ok. Sometimes, in spite of M.E. and all the attendant things, there are moments when it just is o.k. I had, I knew, not just to let the music and images come into me, I had to move out and go into them, lose myself.
There are moments when you meet a poem, an image, a piece of music, a film, when you stop in your tracks and say, yes, I am that. The girl running the fine line between destiny and her own will was me, was everyman and everywoman, but at that particular moment was me – my heart and soul out there, or where I wanted to put them both, with nothing but passion to bring down the rules, regulations and everything else that comes against her. There is a scene where she stops for a space to stake everything she has at a roulette table in a casino and begins to scream. She has twenty minutes to come up with 100,000 marks. As she clenched her fists and screamed the intensity of her desire and intention, half the audience in the dome began to clap and cheer and the music (which they do not rehearse) was with us. Of course she wins, must win, if the story is to be true, in the sense that fairy tales are always and forever true. The prince (for she was that) will capture the castle.
And my hair? A few days ago, contrary to my recent stated decision, I coloured it red by mistake. They didn’t have my usual colour and the packet said “Light Mahogany Chestnut.” Obviously a practical joke, as it is in fact a bold, rusty and robust red. At the moment only the top of my head really shows it (yes, it’s a beacon). I have decided to go with the flow and bring the rest up to scratch – at least it will match my socks. And if I’m not mistaken, there’s a sign to be read here. After all, the hair colour wasn’t planned. Lola, c’est moi!