“Cancelled: Jackie Kay and Zaffar Kunial”. Their appearance at the Brighton Festival I assume – not them. I saw Jackie Kay a few years back at The Festival and thoroughly enjoyed her calm, sorted, humorous and informed story. I was looking forward to hearing from her again. But not this time. As a gesture of goodwill we were offered up to 4 complimentary tickets to “Songs for the end of the world”. A good customer relations move.

My friend suggested we check out The Warren. A selection of bars placed sensitively next to St. Peter’s Church on the London Road. Alcohol, fringe shows and salvation within yards of each other. I thought why not. Let’s be young, free, wild and reckless. It was like being in a mini festival and because the area is walled off you don’t see the outside world. Or the traffic and taxis and buses that haunt the London Road at 7.30p.m. The seats and benches are surrounded by an array of mini theatre and show venues. A few burger stalls and a few stalls selling bags. In addition, a couple of bars. The tables were all a splutter with what felt like reams of flyers, mainly about the same few shows. And a couple of times we were calmly accosted by jovial, happy people sharing more flyers about award winning shows. It was a good environment to sit and chat and linger. Might be manic on a Friday or Saturday night. Nevertheless, an enjoyable space. What happens to these endless extra flyers? I remember coming out of nightclubs in my youth and taking, ditching and walking over endless flyers about some event, somewhere at some time. Of course you kept the flyers that gave free entry next week. There was a talk – I think after a show – about refugees and the camp at Calais. I often wonder about these things. Is it the right place? It’s raising awareness I believe. On the other hand, does it just help to wrestle from me a few moments of concern and philanthropy for those less fortunate than me. Before I get my Burger, Beer, ticket and a show.

There is something interesting about “London by the sea”. I hear about it being so diverse and open and welcoming. Brighton enveloped itself in a pro Europe stance. I agree with a friend’s assessment – it is not a diverse city but a cosmopolitan one. Because whenever I attend many events in this city I notice the lack of colour diversity. When I sit and people watch over my fry up on Blatchington Road I see this colour mix. But not here.  Why?


Sometimes I touched the handles of doors to public toilets and find them wet. Dry your hands you lazy……… On the other hand, I observe guys leaving and not washing their hands – don’t shake my hand. I think I may develop one of those behaviours where I only touch the handles with disposable gloves I carry for such an occasion.

It’s not paranoia but clear observation of the facts.

1- The CIA have been using Samsung T.V.’s to spy on us in our living rooms – even when they are turned off they can still hear our conversations.

2- Revelations continue about trump, Russian cyber invasions and now North Korea is included. They are believed to be behind the recent attacks on the NHS computer system.

3- Barack Obama announces a visit to Edinburgh.

4- I post on Facebook and twitter my apologies that I won’t be there- didn’t want him waiting at Cafe Nero on Princess Street for me.

5- All my data from my hard drive disappears. Files on my cloud storage are mysteriously deleted.

6- I am keeping an eye on the friendly new neighbours downstairs.

I’m selling my Samsung TV and phone. I may have to go underground until this all dies down. Moreover, I thought I would be safe living in Portslade.

A friend has just told me they received a letter from their children’s’ school asking for ten pounds this school year. And twenty-five pounds next school year towards school costs. They don’t agree. I don’t either. It’s for the running of the school. Not for any extra trips or events. Schools in Brighton and Hove face cuts. Equivalent to £193,425 pounds per school. Or £487 per pupil ( What a state we are in and some people don’t notice. Especially when they do not use the facility. Schools, The NHS or care services. In a year’s time the letter will ask for fifty pounds and then…….

A very successful morning sorting out problems with my cloud storage, tidying paperwork, checking my to do list, packing my bag for tomorrow and overall being wonderful.  After the longgg hike up the hill of Elm Grove I pulled into The Flour Pot Bakery. An artisan haven in Hanover.  A delicious coffee and chocolate and orange cookie. A chance to start typing this, refresh and prepare for dance. Still don’t understand certain things in life. As I sit with my coffee a young guy runs past in a blue dressing gown and flip flops to pop into the local shop. Some things aren’t right. I can imagine how my mum would rate that. Anyway – dance!


In 2016 I was invited to take part in the South East Dance programme – Dance Ambassadors programme ( An opportunity for non-dance people such as me to experience dance. I was invited to see the Belgian dance artist Vera Tussing at the intimate Dance Studio. I am always happy when I attend something and haven’t read the background. All I saw was dance and thought “o.k.”

This was a magical, stimulating and thought provoking afternoon with Vera and Esse as we explored with them a work in progress. There were about ten of us in the audience. Intimate. Connected and in the moment. It is such an honour to be allowed into the thought processes of artists. And especially when they are playing with and developing ideas.

Vera and Esse are Dance Artists from Belgium. This was their first time in Brighton. They have performed across Europe and usually London. Their work has moved through stages in their exploration of their dance – sight and now the physical. Safely wrapped in the imagination of dance and expression I was able to exclude the dreary May rain. I was entranced from the beginning. They showed us four pieces and each time we were able to be inside their thoughts. In addition, share our reflections that could help them think about how to grow the work. They move in “duoglide” ceaseless and creaseless harmony. It is wonderful to watch two women who are so in tune with each other and for whom touch and movement together is energy. We were given permission from the start to be part of this process. To speak, to take part in a dance, to change our angle and move to other parts of the studio. We had ownership of the space and this participation is integral to their work. The audience is done with not done to. They helped make this dance experience accessible to me on a physical and emotional level. Even bringing us all into parts of the dance -touching fingertip to fingertip with the dancers. I enjoyed collaborating with other audience members to narrate their movements in one piece. Some of their work is shown to audience members who are blind and use their vast array of other senses and methods to feel the dance. Touches such as braille notes designed by various artists increase participation and understanding. Contemporary dance of this calibre offers so many opportunities to break barriers and create avenues. Watching two women dance together without the male lead raises questions. How often do you see women dance without men leading? The women are the flexible feminine input. While the men are the “strong anchor”. Or so we are taught to accept.

Movement like this reflects and challenges some of the “isms” of Society. This graceful, strong, solid, confident pair reword some of that language. I experience this as “movement” and more than “dance”.


Dance for me was always jumping up and down to the latest or oldest disco classic. This experience allowed me to break down my barriers about dance being “arty farty” and immerse myself in movement. And in process. To imagine what this movement means to me. Even calling the experience “movement” allows me to feel more in it.And how others might experience it. And to be part of the endless flow to influence creativity. The dance they are creating will be shown around Europe and I hope one day in Brighton. If not maybe we will get another chance to reflect on their work. I sit in my cafe writing with renewed inspiration, colours, and the flow of movement around me and a slice of carrot cake. Stillness and harmony.


In the global safety of Cafe Nero five French teenagers sit and chat gently. Across from them there are two guys. One older, one younger sat together and reading their books. At once close but not separated. The future, the present and the past.


Keith Stewart – from Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England. A qualified TEFL teacher, Murder She Wrote and Colombo aficionado. A Spanish music and Motown fan.
JULY 2017  – BLOG #46
Only to be used with permission or attribution.