Brighton Pierrots 1915, Walter Sickert
“Despite the assocation of seaside pierrots with carefree holiday fun, the pervasive mood of Sickert’s painting is one of tension and melancholy. The contrived atmosphere of a stilted performance is suggested by the stiffness of the figures on the stage… The Brighton Gazette gamely reported an upbeat mood in the town but also printed the weekly casualty lists recording heavy losses from the front.” (Moorby, Modernism-on Sea)
I had a very pleasant afternoon yesterday showing Iain Sinclair around Shoreham airport and environs. Unfazed by the bleak weather (I think he rather liked it) and impressed by the archives, the low-tide river, and my tales of the 1912 UK-version of Hollywood that was built in what was then called Bungalow Town, now called Shoreham Beach, he grew more and more excited. The link between the burgeoning film industry, the glamour of the silent movie stars and the military personnel based at the aerodrome is an enticing one.
I have booked him and Chris Petit to run a workshop on creative writing and a sense of place, using Shoreham Airport as a point of inspiration. The spaces are limited, I know it’s going to be very VERY popular. I’ll be shoo-ing wannabe participants away at the doors, alas.
After our walking and talking he has decided that he wants to interview ME to talk about how I have engaged with the airport, gained access to these research materials and information, and how this infuses my writing. These poor people who want to see Mr Sinclair but get me, they’ll probably start hurling water bottles and rotten tomatoes at my head.
Recently, I made a discovery in the archives that made my hair almost drop out with excitement. A character that I am in the process of conjuring into being in my mind was there; or rather, I found him. Or he found me. A ghost from the past – a gift – like a haunted story that wants to be whispered through me.
I discussed with Iain Sinclair the peculiar nature of, to use his word, channelling stories. He insisted that when the flow is there, the story ripe to be told, the stars in line and so on, then it is as if the universe throws up everything one needs. This is certainly my experience. It’s eery, and a part of the writing process that I love the best, but also it unnerves me.
What’s that Goethe quote? … just googling it: oh yes, ‘at the moment of commitment, the entire universe conspires to assist you’.
The famous music hall entertainer Florrie Forde had a club, ‘Flo’s Club’ on Shoreham Beach (Bungalow Town) in the 1920s. She moved there in 1905. It was infamous and frowned upon for much drinking and rowdy behaviour. The club disappeared before the end of WW2.
am looking for more info on her.