After the conference finished last week in London I met my friend and colleague Qin off the train and took her to Brighton. I’ve been telling her for a while that it’s somewhere she had to visit, and I’d arranged for us to stay for a couple of nights with my former students, Shaun and Amelia. We also met up with Matt, another of my prodigies (or is it progeny? Is that rude?)
Having lived there four years I can safely say I never did the whole touristy bit so I took her to the pier, the funfair, the museum and the Pavilion (which, let me say, is absolutely fantastic inside. I never realised. You have to go). Qin was fascinated by the chinoiserie inside, the Western idea of what China was like in the 18th/19th centuries.
I took my new Flip video camera with me and followed Qin around so she had a souvenir. Here’s the video. My favourite moments: in the seaside rock shop after she’d spend several minutes looking for messages appropriate for her friends, Qin pointed to sticks of rock that said ‘Man City’ all the way through them. I thought for a few seconds and then realised her mistake: “It’s short for Manchester City, the football team” I told her.
Then at the end of the video, about three minutes out, we’re on a roller coaster. I hate roller coasters but decided to risk it. Just before we set off I felt my harness come undone but we started going before I could point this out to someone. So I went round the whole thing clinging on for dear life. As we went round each bend my feet came out of the car and I tried to push back down. Meanwhile I was also trying to point the camera somewhere meaningful.
Turns out my harness wasn’t undone after all, but that’s not the point. Qin told me the views from the top of the roller coaster were amazing. I missed them all. “You have to scream!” she told me. I told her I was saving my last breath so I could say something poignant as I was flung out into the English Channel. Something to be remembered by.
“What were his last words?” people would ask. “You should see the view from here!” perhaps…