Brighton, once the vacation home of the Prince Regent, now more commonly referred to as ‘The Slag Riviera’, has seen better times. Forget its beachfront facade, ruined by greedy developers and dodgy council decisions. Ignore the mounds of trash on the beach that a handful of workmen were hopelessly attempting to clear up. Avoid the insulting chain hotels, trashy bars and chain shops. Even simple problems, like falling-apart seaside benches, are ignored in favour of building yet more junk-food outlets on the beach.
Brighton’s strength lies in its vibrant backstreets – in roads like Sydney Street, with its bookshops and craft stores, in the small independent cafes where service comes with a real smile, not the Manual of Staff Behaviour (UK branches). Brighton’s individuality is the part that works, and one can only hope the people of Brighton wrestle their once-fair city back from the forces of development Hell in which it currently languishes.
My mother and her family grew up there, and when my brother took her back to see the old town she spent the day crying, unable to believe her eyes. She wanted to know why the council had been ‘allowed to destroy everything that was beautiful here.’
FantasyCon has always been driven by the passionate people who love books in a world of shrinking literacy. It makes no sense that we do this year after year, yet here we all are again, and Brighton is an ideal setting. Its location on the South coast certainly didn’t keep Northerners away. This year the top quality panels, meetings, readings and events were well organised and hosted by MC Sarah Pinborough – but next year’s event is in the middle of nowhere in the Midlands. Why move something just when it’s working so well?