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24.09.2011 (Sat)

I spent last night tucked into the little curtained alcove of the Bee's Mouth, discussing relationships with my friend Lucy. Lucy has been happily ensconsed in a relationship with the same man since we were teenagers. Lucy therefore, of course, has very different views to me - and most of society - when it comes to the ease of finding a partner.

Me, I lean towards the school of thought which says numbers are diminishing and if you meet a decent one every five years, you're doing well. In Lucy's happily settled mind, however, the world is positively teaming with great men, all of whom are just waiting to spend their lives making you happy. It can therefore lead to rather frustrating conversations where it feels like most of my lamenting gets a little lost in translation. When I say I'm tired of being alone, Lucy tells it could be worse: you could wake up with dirty underwear shoved down under the bottom of the bedsheets. When I say I'm tired of being the only single girl I know, Lucy cocks her head pityingly to one side and says with utter conviction I'll meet someone. It is for this reason I tend to avoid the topic of men altogether with this particular friend, so I should have known better than to bring it up last night.

I love the little alcove in that bar - you get to hide behind the heavy curtain and peep out every once in a while to spy on all the awkward dates going on at the tables below. Watching other couples on dates fascinates me. I don't mean in a pervy way - although given I was enjoying this particular vantage point from behind a curtained alcove, I can see how you could suspect this. I just find dates riveting. Like the couple who have obviously been together forever and mirror one another's movements exactly, or the first daters who, no matter how great their connection, have those protracted awkward-as-hell silences every ten minutes where they both end up sipping their drinks with intense concentration while they stare into their glass, desperately racking their brains for something witty to offer up.

It's been a long time since I had a first date. Lucy took great delight in telling me this is because I am too fussy. Although I'd never admit this to her, I suspect she may be right. Years of dating Mr Wrong after Mr So Wrong I Honestly Don't Know What I Was Thinking, have led to me feeling - yep, I'll say it - jaded. To me, Lucy is lucky, not typical. As the evening progressed into so many empty bottles of wine I honestly thought someone else was placing them there as a sick joke, I took great delight in repeatedly calling her Lucky Lucy, in a sing-song voice which at one point became so loud, drunken and generally obnoxious, even the random daters peered around the room to see where the offensive din was coming from.

As the night drew to a close, Lucy staggered home to her boyfriend and I skipped up the hill to my dirty underwear-less bed. At least in that respect, I'd say I'm pretty lucky myself.

12.09.2011 (Mon)

My quest isn't getting off to the best start. Since I've been back it's been pretty much non stop: catching up with friends, networking, re-establishing old contacts, setting up my new apartment... sadly, not much time in amongst all the mad activity for any developments in the love department. There has, however, been plenty of time in amongst all the chaos to develop and re-embrace one particular love: Brighton. What a beautiful little city we live in. I have finally reached the stage where I wake up in the morning and don't have to stop and wonder where I am. London feels exactly the way I want it to - like a distant memory fading further each day.

Not that I didn't have an amazing time in London. I will forever be glad for those few years and the madness they brought to my life. I learned more about myself and the world around me in those five years in London than I had in all 25 of the years I'd spent prior, living here. I travelled the world from my little base in the city, I made lifelong friends and I found adventures waiting round every hectic corner. London was exactly what I needed, and I'll always be grateful to it for that.

Maybe I needed to leave Brighton so I could come back to it. I definitely needed to travel and experience a multitude of other cities to know this will always be the only place I'll call home. I feel settled here already, and instantly comfortable at being back. I forgot how much I loved simple things like sinking into the pebbles as I strolled along to the marina, or lying back in the sun and listening to the music flowing through the Pavilion Gardens. And then of course at night, laughing 'til it hurt at the Dome's latest offering or knocking back overpriced cocktails at Browns before stumbling home up and down more hills than I'd ever care to count.

So as you can probably tell, I'm pretty thrilled to be back. I plan on making the most of my time here and if anyone wants to come find me, I'll be the only person in Brighton still determined to paddle in the sea in the middle of September.

13.08.2011 (Sun)

It seemed fitting that I begin my blog on the day of the year where Brighton is filled to overflow with every kind of love imaginable. It positively spills out onto the streets, through the parks, and, inevitably, into the bars as evening approaches. Today is the one day of the year where Brightonians not only burst - sometimes literally - with pride, it's the day where they throw a huge party in its honour and parade that very pride through the loud, crowded, rainbow coloured streets.

For the majority of people living in Brighton, Pride represents a day of, well, drinking. Of course there's the parade in the morning, the party in the Park in the afternoon and the multitude of street parties taking place across the entire weekend, but the general consensus is: it's a day to get pissed. In the sunshine if possible, though even the heaviest of downpours would fail to dampen this day's spirits.

As Brightonians, we're pretty proud of Pride. I'm no different in this respect - any opportunity for love in all its shapes and sizes to be openly proclaimed throughout the city I live in is one which must be grabbed, if you ask me. This year, I was all set to help out behind one of the stalls in Preston Park. My friends run a local organisation and for several years have held a little pitch fairly near the entrance, affording them the chance to grab people's attention before they get too far in and too far gone. I headed down this morning, muttering my usual Pride prayer for sunshine, and helped set up. At that time in the morning, the deserted Park was almost eerie. Stalls were being erected all around us and breathless workers were lugging boxes and barrels in every direction, no doubt mentally preparing themselves for the onslaught which was to follow.

And follow it did. By mid morning, the Park was as heaving as ever - a relief I think to all stall-owners given this was the first year where an entry fee was to be charged. My friends and I spent the day chatting to thousands of revellers, all of whom adorned the usual expression of elation and inebriation. It always makes me feel cheered to watch couples of all shapes and sizes, flaunting their love for one another as though their partner was a precious jewel they'd just won in an auction. Which I suppose is exactly what a partner is to most. As I stood watching the couples pour past, the love emanating from their giddy embraces, I started to think that about my own loves and how little pride I had in them, or myself throughout them. When I left London behind a few months ago and sloped back to Brighton, tail between my legs, I couldn't have had any less faith in love or in myself at finding it, let alone retaining it. It simply wasn't possible. Yet watching those couples this afternoon, I started thinking maybe it wasn't such an elusive concept after all. Brighton has come so far and trail blazed the rest of the country in so many ways. We've made love something to be proud of. As a Brightonian, surely I'd be doing the city a disservice, possibly even insulting it, to so staunchly deny the existence of a concept it practically invented.

As we exhaustedly but happily watched the last merry revellers pour out of the park past our stall, much less stead on their feet than when they'd first passed us all those hours ago, I realised I've had enough of hiding in the shadows. I want love to be something I'm proud of too. I want to wear my colours and blaze my own little trail. After all, it's clearly possible - that much was obvious from the expressions on the faces of the tired but happy crowd, filing out of the Park arm in arm.

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