"Oh I do like to be beside the seaside,
I do like to be beside the sea,
I do like to stroll along the prom, prom, prom,
Where the brassbands play
So just let me be beside the seaside,
I'll be beside myself with glee."
Yesterday I spent the day in Brighton, by the sea, catching up with my friend David.
We've been friends since 91 when we both moved to Brighton. David and I worked as care assistants for the same person, thats how we met. I lived in Brighton about 18 months in all and then I moved back to London. David has continued to call Brighton his home ever since.
It was a cold and rainy day yesterday, not conducive to much flânerie. So much of our time together ended up being spent inside cafes etc.
David is a very generous friend and he paid for most of our time, but it still made me realise how much it kind of bugs me that generally our public space tends to be business space, cash register space, rather than free space. Or at least the social choices we most often opt for tend to be consumer social experiences rather than free social experiences. Spending and Consuming are considered to be almost the natural heart of any time spent with friends outside the home. I find myself suspicious that as a society we generally take for granted the idea that friendship goes hand-in-hand with consumerism, as though they were one and the same thing, as though there were really no other means of having a good time out of the home unless loads of money has been spent.
The pleasures of Human Interaction and Public Space have become conflated with Consumerism and Profits. I think its important to pay attention to that conflation.
And don't get me wrong- while i'm sat here sternly wagging my typing finger at the world, pontificating here on my web soapbox, -it was nonetheless lovely to be catching up with my friend yesterday, and being in multiple locations throughout the day is always one of my favourite experiences, even if they're homogenised spaces that demand we consume something. And its unfortunate we were compromised by unfriendly weather out doors.
Its just, I guess it highlighted for me that these past few years here in London I've been consciously trying to find alternative ways to spend time with friends in public spaces, without money being involved, without equating love with consuming material things etc etc.
I'm still learning and realising just how huge Free London is and how broad and varied all the Free available options are here, everyday. Discovering Free London is like discovering a secret garden, and much of it is often hiding in plain site, a parallel universe to the world of cash registers and muzak.