November 9, 2017
We arrived in Brighton around 3 pm and checked into our hotel.
Yes, ridiculously I have an hotel room when my home is just a hop and a skip away.
We are having work done and the dust is stifling.
Added to that the early start and my late nights. I need to sleep as best I can on a schedule as exacting as this.
My room is on the third floor of an old building which does not allow for lifts, so Vinny helps me lug my case, heavy as dark matter, to my door, up the twisting narrow staircases.
I think I pass Debbie Harry on the stairs.
Could it be?
I notice her because of the downcast eyes set to discourage the ‘It is, isn’t it?’ approchement, that I illustrate in my Ipswich blog.
I relate and don’t try to engage her.
Then there is that face. Iconic.
Our teenage crush of boys and girls alike.
Such a singular beauty.
I ask the crew on arriving at The Dome.
Is it possible?
Yes. She is paying tonight at the Civic Centre.
Vinny later said he had wondered too, but hearing her speak, she was patently American.
Well yes, she is.
He had assumed her British.
So ours has she been.
Brighton is my home.
I had known little of it some six years ago, having rarely visited and then, only to play a show, or for one singular day out at the stony seaside.
The name, however, was a fixture.
My mother, on finishing her A levels, came here to do her teachers training in the municipal college which was situated on Eastern Terrace, below Kemptown.
I had brought her back in the year before she died and she took me to the building, now a house, and pointed up to the attic room where she and her friends climbed out to sit on the roof and look out at the sea.
She remembered the Tea Shop where she and they would share a slice of cake, between three.
When she died, we found her sketches of the arches and a brewery once here.
When we, at home, could no longer bare the isolation and humdrum of suburbia, and my husband favoured a vicinity near to water, Brighton was the name that came to my lips and the deal was done.
I came not knowing the city and live here now like the prodigal daughter.
Like my blood was brewed here.
The Dome is currently an external mess of scaffolding and restoration, but inside is warm and I am comforted to be here.
My quarters are both familiar from repeat visits in this venue to perform, and are well appointed.
As usual, I have dinner alone because I need time between eating and the show that the others do not, and then, I am met by Jonathan, my friend and Hairdresser from Shine, who is here to watch, with his wife and daughter, and has come in to do my hair as a kindness, while I fix my face.
After he is gone and I have dressed, I meet with the group of Brighton Samaritan volunteers who are here to raise money and for which tonight’s profits are to be allocated.
It is a happy encounter.
Tonight my friend, and Brighton neighbour, acclaimed actress and musician Heather Peace, is opening the show and has generously gifted too her fee to The Brighton Samaritans.
We meet and hug on the stairs and promise to make time when space finally allows.
She goes on stage to much love and warmth and is very greatly appreciated.
I expected to be more anxious than I am.
I have my people in tonight.
My husband and youngest, my neighbours and friends and in-laws.
Normally I feel more inhibited when that is the case, but tonight I feel uncommonly invincible.
Perhaps it is that I arrive here having already been touring for 2 months.
I haven’t had voice issues.
My muscles have earned their memories.
Before our leader track is played, Daniel, the previous head of the group, and he with whom I engaged in order to organise this benefit show, gives a presentation for Brighton and Hove Samaritans and does a fine job.
I am heartened by the attention and reception he is given.
It all feels right.
Then we go on.
I look for my beating heart and tight throat but they are both playing nicely.
From the outset my pieces are in place.
I look out at this beautiful auditorium.
Large and round and red and warm, and it is full with people that I love and people that I belong to, with whom I have community.
I embrace every last minute of this night.
I feel no ounce of inhibition and I am buoyed by everyone in it.
Immediately I am done, I am returned to my hotel.
David makes his way to me soon after, having said goodbye to our friends, and we sit together.
Me with Gin, he with tea, and both with load-out sandwiches.
We debrief the evening briefly, for even with him, my talking must be rationed.
He returns to our house and our cat, and I to my sleep.
Here at least there will be no early alarm.
7am and a false fire alarm.
Best laid plans and that.
I bet Debby Harry wasn’t best pleased either.
My father. Lost to us 3 years ago today.
French man of the sea.
I am reminded of the story he told of coming here for a day trip with my mother when first married, to visit her old haunts.
As he always did in France, he stripped to his shorts, ran the length of the beach to the water, on this occasion though, hobbled and unmanned by the stones he hadn’t expected, dove into the water, only to shoot straight out. He, rather than the sea, a Tory shade of blue.
He was less keen on my return to electronica.
The last show of mine he watched in Southend he had this to share.
Said in his broken English.
I din’ like eet.
Nuffink you can whistle to.
I miss you, you mad, crazy, thug. Xxx