Troubling times.

The more I see of Boris Johnson, the more depressed, the more angry – and the more worried- I get.

This ex-journalist knows exactly how to get his photo on all the front pages.

The jokey, clownish architect of Brexit, who happily had himself photographed during the Brexit campaign supposedly ‘stuck accidentally’ on a zip-wire, brandishing two Union flags, went on holiday yesterday.

He seems to have completely shrugged off any responsibility for the queues of vehicles outside petrol stations all over the country, (because we don’t have enough tanker drivers), the planned culling of thousands of pigs and turkeys, (because we don’t have enough butchers) and the rotting of crops in the fields, (because we don’t have enough agricultural workers to pick them!) Thanks a lot, Brexit!

But at least we have ‘Taken Back Control’ and ‘Got Brexit Done’ and, more importantly, we have finally got rid of all of those pesky foreigners who used to do all of this work for us. Well done, Boris!

So now that we have walked out of the huge EU market on our doorstep, we are, at last, free to make deals with that mighty economic world power on the other side of the world, Australia. Now we can import large quantities of cheap lamb, and effectively undercut our own lamb producers at the same time.. Good move, Boris! Makes us proud to be British.

And there are other worrying trends going on with this government. For example, you almost never see a cabinet minster interviewed on television without them being framed by huge Union Jacks, the national flag that is supposed to represent the ‘unity’ of our increasingly divided nation. This arrogant and divisive Conservative party seems to have appropriated the national flag as its own party symbol, implying that if you are not enthused by this crude display of ‘patriotism’, then you are not being loyal to your own country.

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Clown Johnson pulls a funny face and pastes himself to the national flag.
How dare he?

Someone should remind Boris Johnson that, as long ago as 1775, his namesake, Samuel Johnson wrote that “Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.” And so it has turned out to be.

And speaking of scoundrels, but now more seriously, it is perhaps no coincidence that two years ago a new and rather scary far-right party called ‘Patriotic Alternative’ was founded in this country. The party is anti-semitic, anti-LGBT and denies that the holocaust ever took place. It calls for the deportation of “people of migrant descent” and propagates a white supremacist ideology that aims to combat “the replacement and displacement of white British people by migrants”. It has been described as a ‘neo-Nazi’ party, and it claims to have attracted some 15,000 members in its first two years of existence. Other estimates put the membership at nearer to 5,000, but 5,000 neo-Nazis is still 5,000 neo-Nazis.

Its website offers conferences, camping trips, lots of flag waving and men carrying out healthy outdoor physical fitness training. Any of this sound familiar?

Returning to our own government it should be remembered that at a time when people who cannot feed their families are increasingly turning to the ever-growing number of food banks, Johnson’s government has just spent £163,000 on Union flags to frame its ministers when they are on television. Repeat, £163,000 to drape the Conservative party leaders in the national flag.

The last time I can remember a regime whose leaders used every possible opportunity wrap themselves in their national flag, things didn’t end well.

Indeed it ended in the Ruhr being obliterated and Berlin in flames.

And the top prize goes to…. drum roll, please!

Tell me that’s not ‘street art’! The best I’ve seen so far, but who knows what’s down the road?

Perhaps a huge mural of Saint George on his white horse. Look forward to it.

Prize for the poshest street art goes to…

A restaurant that is due to open right next to Brighton’s Theatre Royal.

That’s art, that is!

Opening a restaurant at any time is a risk. Opening one in the current circumstances is brave.

And when you practically have to demolish the existing building to accommodate it, well that’s downright foolhardy!

We,, let’s hope they do well, once the pandemic has receded. Courageous entrepreneurs or perhaps a Saudi prince seeking a base from which to launch his bid to buy Brighton and Hove Albion football club!

Why? Beats me!

It has been great fun taking photos of the endless variety of Brighton’s street art, (or ‘graffiti’, depending on your point of view.) Most of the examples that I found were self-explanatory and it was not difficult to see what the artist, (or ‘hooligan’, depending on your point of view), was trying to achieve.

But some of the creations that I discovered just made me shake my head in confusion.

What, for example, does this mean?

It was scrawled on a pillar outside a supermarket. Why?

And then there was this.

Four strawberries and a fish? Why did somebody risk prosecution to convey this message? And what was the message, anyway?

And clearly someone was trying to say something to somebody with this. But it beats me. (Suggestions, please.)

And finally, just to show that street art can adorn absolutely anything, I give you…..

Brighton’s derelict, and now iconic, West Pier. It just goes to show that you should never leave anything lying around in the street when the graffiti artists are around.

Somebody’s watching you!

Some of the boldest examples of street art adorning the backstreets of Brighton were faces , some of which filled a whole wall. Perhaps the most frightening was a twenty foot portrait of Alfred Hitchcock.

Followed by a couple of characters that you wouldn’t want to meet in a back lanes on a dark night!

But wouldn’t you just love to be able to paint a face like that – before the policeman caught you?

And rest assured! I’ll be back!

Just for fun

And then there were the contributions that seemed to have been painted just to amuse either the artist or the passer-by. Well, they certainly made me smile!

Perhaps we should all take a leave out of this artist’s book and ‘pop our bubbles’. The cat certainly seems to like the idea.

And then, down, down, down in the deep blue see…

This long mural certainly cheered up an otherwise dull and uninteresting wall!

See what I mean?

And then I found this. Don’t ask me what the artist was trying to convey. Far too deep for me.

And finally … sound advice for anyone trying to encourage children to go to the circus!

Where do all these ideas come from?

Get the message?

Although there were many pieces of street art that serves to adorn buildings, entertain the spectator and give free expression to the creative talents of the artist, there were small number that conveyed a definite and unmissable message.

Two very cute little monkeys.

From the environmental to the spiritual -or perhaps more accurately to the grateful. “I believe in Angels. I’ve seen them,” above a banner for the NHS.

And then there was the wall that reflected the darker side of Brighton that the tourists, and most of the residents, don’t see.

This painting took up a whole wall in a back street not far from where we live.

That’s not a graffito. That’s a piece of art!

Oops! Forgot a couple more scary ones!

Anything you say, pal! Living free, it is!

Just imagine wandering through town on a Saturday night after a few drinks, then turning the corner and seeing this!

Then there was the downright scary!

Some of the street art around Brighton has obviously been produced to terrify some of the more impressionable members of the community…

Walking at night around the more dimly lit areas of Brighton can be a pretty frightening experience.

There is no shortage of images that are designed to keep you awake at night!

Sometimes you stand and stare and wonder what kind of mind comes up with these weird creations, but then I suppose that many people will stand in front of a Picasso masterpiece and think “What on earth is that all about?

What could be more comforting than a furry bunny in a space helmet? Unless, of course, there is a huge scary bug-eyed monster behind it.

Look out! He’s behind you!

Whole buildings can be transformed into the artist’s vision of hell. (But don’t you wish you could draw like that?)

I told you to look out! Now there’s two of them behind you!

And they ain’t thinking nice thoughts! Don’t be fooled by the fluffy bunny.

And finally, if you are still not convinced that you have fallen into a dystopian nightmare … study this!

Sleep well, dear reader!

…. but is it art?

A couple of years ago, I wrote about the street art, (or graffiti, depending on your point of view,) that you can find all over Brighton, if you dare to stray into some of the remoter side streets.

Recently I have once again been trawling through these very same backstreets and have been amazed at how the creative spirit of some of Brighton’s citizens seems to find expression in all sorts of different forms through the medium of spray paint, chalk, whatever. So I started to take some pictures…

The first group of subjects that I identified were the ‘tags’.

To those of you who are not ‘down with the kids’ and fluent in the language of the street, ‘tags’ are the brazen signatures of the artists who have decided to adorn whichever piece of spare wall you might be looking at.

They scream “Look at me, I’m here!”

Sometimes you wonder what substance the artist was taking when he or she came up with their tag, but some of the resultant creations are works of art in their own right.

Sometimes, the artist makes no effort to hide their identity as in the example below:

And sometimes you get the feeling that they are beyond caring…

But as far as I am concerned, I think that their attempts to make something entertaining and sometimes beautiful out of some the areas of town where beauty is in lamentably short supply is to be applauded.

So, Ladies and Gentlemen of the spray can and the nighttime…

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