Brighton, yet more thoughts…

Dutch Steak
9 min readJan 15, 2023

This one’s for me. An outlet.

I’m struggling to get on with my life. I’ve always been one to stay in, shut the curtains and hide away, but I think I’d have got through that by now. So much I want to do. So much living.

I went to visit Brighton before moving there. I had lots of plans. I should have listened to the universe when it decided I wasn’t going to go on the tour bus or the ghost walk because it decided to make me ill the whole time I was there. I remember another sign; a homeless guy saw me stubbing out a cigarette and had for me the words “Begone from here!” Quite why he’d taken a dislike to me I don’t know, but I should have listened. My world was better at that point. I was living in Kemptown and nothing had fallen apart, though it would do within weeks or months. I’m unsure of timing. I do know I only lived there for a few months. How can one experience tear you up so much and so deeply for six years?

I don’t think therapy worked in any way. Therapy is around making changes to enable to you feel better. It’s about managing and making the changes where you can. I can’t change this. I can’t change the fundamental belief that many people in Brighton were told by a very loud Londoner that I am that horrible thing beginning with p. How can anyone live with that? I don’t care if I never see these people again, or in fact if they know what I look like, that on its own is too much to handle. For me.

I remember the day I was getting my stuff out of the flat. It was so horrible. I mean I wanted to leave, of course. I remember when I first chose the place, I was really excited. True though it is that I’d not put much thought into location; I knew it was really close to the sea and had a nice bit of wooden floor. A nice size lounge. I should have been put off the first day I’d got the keys as the neighbours’ television was so loud. But at this point I was glad to be leaving.

I’d arranged a man with a van. This was from the hotel. You know the weird thing…actually it’s all weird. It’s all screwed up. I remember whilst at the hotel I could hear the guy outside. He couldn’t have been but I could hear him and believed he was. I don’t know how I made it to work in those few days. I suppose one up side was that the place I was staying had a bar and served food so I had steak and chips almost every night. I didn’t care. My health wasn’t so important. I suppose in times of trauma it isn’t for anybody.

Anyway. I recall my friend Chris had said he’d come down to help me move out. I desperately needed the support and given how, despite the note from him, my neighbour had been chewing me up and spitting me out and ruining everything in my life, one might say the layer just above the foundations, I was terrified he’d kick off. That he’d get in front of the removal men and start shouting and kicking off about how I was this p-word.

I’d been dreading this day because of the neighbour, then to make matters worse my friend let me know he wasn’t coming. I remember crying in the hotel, not because he wasn’t coming, but because I didn’t know how I’d got where I’d got. How I’d got to the point of staying in a hotel, trying to make work happen, or how I could ever have ended up terrified of everybody outside the hotel in case they’d listened and believed my neighbour.

The removal men arrived. God knows how but I’d managed to pack all of my things up in the course of a day. Whilst packing I could hear the neighbour outside ruining me some more. Yes it hurt, but somehow it had hurt so much I’d gone numb. “Oh, there’s a man outside, breaking me, ruining me, destroying everything…but it’s okay, right? I’m used to it now.” He’d done it for so long that I just had to get on and pack.

I’d written my last note to my neighbour which explained that I wasn’t what they were saying. That it was ruining my life, that I was leaving, and with a date and with a plea that he would let it happen peacefully. Oddly he did. My stuff was packed into some storage based in Lewes and at that point I didn’t know what I was doing.

I am very rarely rude to anybody, but in a desperate attempt to stay in Brighton I later organised a visit to look at a flat. I can’t believe I did that. I’d be scared to go back now. So I organised that visit, came down from Somerset to check out the flat, but once I’d arrived nobody was there to meet me and I emailed them and apparently the place had been taken. Thank you so much for letting me know you thoughtless pricks.

Odd, though. The reason, besides the annoyance of the estate agents, that it sticks in my mind is that I remember walking through Brighton. I could hear people talking about me. “I hate that guy”. “There he is!” And as my things were being moved out “Yeah, it’s him”. I don’t know if any of that was real. So Brighton remains terrifying.

I have tried to find out if any of it was real. A friend of mine has described that neighbour as paranoid but I can’t get that far. I mean if it happened then he wasn’t paranoid he was out of his mind. Does a paranoid person tell lies about somebody, loudly for days and nights on end? If it didn’t happen then he wasn’t paranoid at all and it all started because of my own mental health issues.

Rory was nice. He was kind. Rory was the LGTB…or is it LBTG…I don’t know what the fuck it is but he was the liaison officer. I’d gone to him because there was a lot of loud shouting along the lines of “I’ve got a pouf living above me and a pouf living beneath me and I’d like to put a bullet in both their heads”. What the hell were you doing in Kemptown? You were not exactly in the straightest of areas where you, eh? You cunt.

So I messaged Rory from the hotel. It’s amazing how you can sort things out on a phone. He asked me to come to the station because he was concerned because I didn’t feel safe in my home. I said I didn’t want to, I just wanted to leave. The police had originally told me that without a name and a description they couldn’t do anything. How does that fucking work? I could give an exact address but without a name, which they could probably have looked up, they couldn’t do anything? Did they think I was out of my mind? But Rory was kind. So thank you Rory.

To find things out, I have emailed him as I was able to track him down online. He said he didn’t know either. He did have a vague recollection of this happening, and thought it was probably a mental health issue, but couldn’t be sure. I tried emailing the estate agent who was just across the road. I thought he’d surely have known something being so close but he didn’t get back to me. I also tracked down one of the other agents on Facebook and he didn’t respond either. I feel like I’m out of options. I’ve written to every single flat in that building in an enormous mail shot which wasn’t cheap and nobody has been in touch. I would question the people I was working with at the time in case they’d noticed anything, one lived close to my flat, but I assume they’d have told me if anything had gone on.

I was beginning to think I was moving on. But I’m not. If I could find out if it happened I might find it easier either way. Of course it’s easier to believe it didn’t. I am open to my mind screwing with me as it had three times since.

The note from my neighbour: “Ash, we are confused. Your neighbours from above. We weren’t sure if these notes were for us. We barely know you. We have nothing against you.” That’s not word for word. What got me, though, is that a man who’d been banging on my ceiling, screaming at me, would he really have had the idea in his head that he had to introduce himself? Is it possible that the sound stimulation from outside my flat was enough to push me over the edge?

Why would they write such a convincing note? Is it likely that they knew I’d gone to the police? Were they scared he’d get arrested? Do you know, the fucking police actually said that all they’d do if they had a name was put a fucking note through his letter box to explain if he continued he’d be arrested? He should have been fucking arrested anyway! You surely can’t legally stand outside someone else’s flat and come out with that filth?!

I can’t help but feel that the best thing for me would be to go back, get a work from home job, not in that order, and get used to the area again. Teach my brain that it’s safe. Because I don’t think it is. And I don’t know if I have the guts.

My friend, Chris, who I’d explained the situation to during the madness told me not to leave. He said the police would help me. He was wrong. He told me to get some backbone. Backbone. Backbone? Do I lack backbone? I think we all have a backbone, you know, but I think anybody would have struggled with this. There have been studies into what people saying this about somebody does to a guy’s brain. It’s not as simple as backbone. Actually, I think he’s got fed up with me obsessing about this for the last six years and we don’t talk any more. He might as well have told me he didn’t want to be my friend because I couldn’t cope with my anxieties. So it’s probably for the best.

There’s the note. That indicates that it didn’t happen. The thing is that would have been a gamble. My neighbour had absolutely nothing to gain from telling me that they were confused and that they didn’t know me and that they have nothing against me, and they didn’t even know my notes were for them. So from that perspective it looks good for me and my new life in Brighton. From the perspective of them being a liar…I can’t get my head around why they would bother. After all of the shouting and screaming at me through the ceiling, why would they do that? Why would they even say “Here are your notes back?” Why do that? The note is and was extremely confusing.

On reading the above, I realise I’m trying to convince myself it wasn’t real. Because I would be happy to know that. I could convince myself it wasn’t real, but then moving back is still a risk and could wreck the idea. Still, whilst I’m there, I’d built up the guts to go outside and post those notes to them. I have to admit, on going outside, I couldn’t hear anything. The shouting stopped. At this point I could become dramatic and start crying and say “What’s wrong with meeeeheeheee!?”, and indeed I did get upset when I realised that the Bournemouth episode was in my head and even feared some kind of schizophrenia. But actually, I think I’m just extremely sensitive in every sense of the word, and extremely empathic so I form links mentally with people, even if they are one sided. I think I have the mental susceptibility to fall into a fog of noise as I become overly stimulated with sound and to then turn those noises into insults as the anxiety dives deeper. That doesn’t explain the banging on the ceiling. But I shouted out a few times, and also in sending those notes, maybe that caused a reaction. I just don’t know. All I do know is that I’m a nice guy. You know if you know. I feel like I’m growing as a person and learning to be myself, not feeling guilty when I swear, heh, and trying to make a mental space for me rather than the usual feeling of being nobody but having a view into the world I’m not part of. If I go into the city, will I be safe?

If I am to fully embrace the idea that it didn’t happen, then I must go forth and try to enjoy the place. Because otherwise I’m living without fully believing myself. I have to believe myself.

I may not get there in the end; the prices have gone up and I’d really rather have somewhere a bit more detached than any of the flats I could afford. I mean where would one put one’s drum kit? And for God’s sake the sound proofing was so bad in both flats that I don’t know how anybody actually lives.

Funny. I start off deeply upset and then talk myself into the idea that it didn’t happen. That note was convincing though. I can’t go on like this.

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Dutch Steak

A coder, a rambler...and now wondering if maybe design and actual art, very different, should form my future...