No. 14 – Theatre Royal to Brighton Station
Escape your family this Christmas by taking one of The Hussy’s celebrated series of utterly aimless ambles around town. John Higgs is your guide
* Time: 20 wasted minutes
* Difficulty: Easy
Start at the curvy wooden seating opposite the Theatre Royal in New Street. It’s a pleasant location and you could happily while away an afternoon here people watching. Instead, you will now take a pointless walk.
“We are not looking to gain insight into our environment. We are taking a pointless walk”
Stand up and head north along New Road. On your right you will see a life-size statue of music hall legend Max Miller. The statue stands awkwardly, with an enlarged left shoulder, as if suffering from a bad back. With its right hand it points accusingly at a chartered accountants’ office over the road. However, the statue cannot bring itself to look at the accused accountants, but gazes down instead at a bicycle chained to the railings. What does this tell us about Miller or music hall? Thankfully, nothing at all. We are not some urban psycho-geographer or a French situationist undertaking looking to gain insight into our environment. We are taking a pointless walk.
A complete waste of time
Cross over the road and walk up Jubilee Street. It will not escape your notice that there is currently an exhibition of photographs outside the library. Big, haunting photographs of Iraqi families at home before being carpet-bombed or terrorised. Looking at these might be a poignant, empathetic experience; it may even rouse you to political thought or action – entirely defeating the point of a pointless walk. Walk on, you’ve had a narrow escape.
“Be aware of the dangers: a pointless walk should not be so long that it could be classed as exercise”
At the end of Jubilee Street we can see two further roads north. To our left is Kensington Street, home to Brighton’s finest collection of graffiti and street art. We, however, take Robert Street to the right, and discover that there is nothing interesting down there.
At the end of Robert Street turn left up Gloucester Road and, a short time later, turn left down Queen’s Gardens. After walking a reasonable distance, suddenly realise that you are going in completely the wrong direction. You must then decide whether to turn around or continue with your current course in the hope things will get better. Elect to keep on your current course but be aware of the dangers: a pointless walk should not be so long that it could be classed as exercise – so we will have to get back on track soon. Down the street you may see a sign in a window that reads ‘The Witch Is In!’. Don’t pay this any mind.
Nothing to see here
At the end of Queen’s Gardens, turn right and trudge up North Road. You will pass all sorts of interesting shops, including a drum emporium, a place that purveys brightly coloured fake hair, and a shop that sells Samurai swords, statuettes of Confucius, and ninja whatnots. Keep your head down, look at your feet and you will not notice any of this. Look up in time to see the frightening red horror that is the LA Fitness gym, however, as this is your cue to turn right down Frederick Gardens.
Frederick Gardens is a long alleyway with a row of tiny little houses on your left – homes that appear to be inhabited by the many garden gnomes you will notice. As you walk you will entertain a pleasant fantasy about how one day, maybe when you are old, you might live in one of these cottages, with the gnomes. You may also notice that one or two houses are up for sale. However, when you exit this lane you will completely forget all about these thoughts and you will never live in one of these cottages with the gnomes. Turn left at the end, by the pub, and trek up the hill towards the Queen’s Road. You will have an option of walking up steps with a helpful rail or walking up a ramp. Use the ramp. Everybody uses the ramp.
Really, really devoid of purpose
Turn right and you will see the station in front of you. You will notice not one but two clocks on the front of the station, displayed high and prominent. If you were planning to catch a train, these would inspire you to break into a jog. You don’t have to do this, of course, because you have no intention of catching a train. You have no business at the station at all. Indeed, it is completely out of your way. Congratulations, you have now completed this pointless walk.
John Higgs is the author of I Have America Surrounded – The Life of Timothy Leary (£8.99 The Friday Project Limited)