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Guide book gets cheeky with city landmarks

The Marina is a monstrosity, Embassy Court looks like plastic surgery gone wrong and the Aquarium Terrace should be, well, sunk.

As city guides go, it's hardly going to get the tourists flocking.

But it's only a snapshot of the sights and sounds Brighton and Hove has to offer, according to The Cheeky Guide to Brighton.

Now in its third year, the straight-talking bestseller has become the definitive manual for anyone wanting a window into life in the city.

It pulls no punches when it comes to the weaker aspects of Brighton and Hove's credentials, however.

Under a section called Brighton Embarrassments, author David Bramwell describes the marina as "a concrete jungle", Embassy Court as "Michael Jackson's face on a bad day" and London Road as "the visual equivalent of waking up after a heavy party to discover that someone's emptied an ashtray in your mouth".

There's no escape for devotees of Brighton's bristling West Street either.

Described as "Brighton's answer to Las Vegas but without the glamour and more violent", he adds it's the perfect place to go clubbing - for the under 12s.

The city's parking comes in for a mauling too.

In A Short Rant About Traffic Wardens, he takes a swipe at "the council's answer to the SS" and the authority's parking ticket windfall.

However, David finds plenty good to shout about too.

The energy and vitality of Kemp Town village make it a must see for anyone wishing to witness the power of community spirit.

And an entire section is devoted to Wonderful Things to Do which lists Brighton Pavilion, Hove Museum and The Sealife Centre as prime attractions.

Taking a stroll with the Bard of Brighton, guided walk expert Glenda Clarke, is listed as one of the best ways to see the city.

For the more adventurous, llama trekking, turning up at a seance and visiting a clairvoyant are all well-advised under the Weird Things to Do section.

For star-struck autograph hunters, and where better to come than Brighton, the book provides a points system for people wanting to dabble in some celebrity spotting.

Sir Paul McCartney tops the chart with a 100-point windfall for anyone catching a glimpse of the Beatles icon (1,000,000 points if spotted in a yellow submarine).

Chris Eubank, despite starring in his own reality TV show, scores just half a point, apparently because he is as ubiquitous as Brighton's squawking seagulls.

Writer Julie Burchill fares little better with four points. "You'll find her down the Arts Club having a good old whinge," it says.

The book certainly takes no prisoners.

David, 35, thinks it is the guide's honesty which will attract the readers.

He said: "We get the best representation of Brighton and Hove because we are honest.

"I think people appreciate a book that's straight talking.

"For example, if you ask people what they really think of the marina, most will say it's a dump, even though the council tries to portray it as a great place.

"It's important that we are the only guide in Brighton where we can say, hand on heart, that we have visited everywhere in the book.

"So we've got a really good response from the editions we've put out so far."

Producing the book has been a labour of love for David, who is also a part-time music teacher.

And he can't be faulted for the depth of research.

As well as the usual sights and sounds, there is also a chapter on local heroes, legends and eccentrics.

Artist Neel, who spends his days photographing himself in weird guises in photo booths (previously seen in The Argus), merits a mention.

Mad Jack, an eccentric character who frequents cafes around the North Laines, and Sir Ralph Harvey, one of the country's leading authorities on the occult, are also included.

For those in search of the city's sleazier side, David can point you in the right direction.

Whether it's leather and bondage, piercings or sex toys that tickle your fancy, he has sussed out all the fetishists' favourite haunts.

He describes Brighton as traditionally "the place where fat London bosses with hairy bums bring their secretaries for more than just a telesales conference".

He adds there is also always something kinky going on around the corner.

From Ann Summers to the Torture Garden fetish night at the Honey Club, he puts Brighton and Hove's naughty heritage down to the "liberal nature of the citizens rather than anything else".

And, of course, no description of Brighton would be complete without a homage to our beloved Palace Pier.

Described as the epitome of seaside fun, David says "Brighton without the Palace Pier would be like Tommy Cooper without the fez".

David said: "I hope that people will also get a feeling of our love for the place.

"I have been here for 12 years and it feels like I'm in love with the city, with all the pitfalls that involves."

The Cheeky Guide to Brighton, third edition, costs £5.95 and is available from local bookshops.

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