Starlings on the pier, Brighton

By Matt Lancashire:

Brighton has a split personality – it can’t shake off the fact it’s a Victorian seaside town of arcades on the pier and sticks of rock, but it’s also a vibrant, gay-friendly and modern town which hasn’t just rested on its laurels wondering why no-one comes to visit any more. Commonly known as London-by-the-sea, it’s only an hour away from its big brother by train and similarly filled with boutique shops and fashionable media-types. It exists as a half-way house for Londoners to dip our toes into the rest of the country and clear our lungs, without ever feeling that we’re out of our depth or too far from home.

My girlfriend and I decamped there for a weekend and were lucky that the weather didn’t realise it was off-season, while the crowds stayed absent. A late and lazy lunch was followed by a walk down to the pebble beach, and as the sun set flocks of starlings came to roost in the iron frame of the pier. The murmuration (to use the technical term) was silent in flight, apart from the thrum of the beating wings, though once they had settled out of sight they sang through the last moments of dusk.

In the distance sat the shell of the West Pier, which closed (thirty years ago) then collapsed and burnt down (ten years ago). Too beautiful to be widely considered an eyesore, it now stands as a monument for all the other struggling seaside towns as it waits for the ever-promised attention and renovations.

Words & Pictures: Matt Lancashire

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