Lewes – Brighton’s smug, narrow-minded neighbour

I have often have the misfortune to visit Lewes, county town of East Sussex. Indeed, I have even lived in the surrounding area, much against my better judgement.. Meetings down there make me desperate for the pandemic travel restrictions. It is mainly famous for a bunch of largely posh folks dressing up and burning the pope every year but that actually makes it look more exciting than it is. The charming country market town facade is maintained by a District Council that puts ghastly things like waste incinerators or badly thought out traffic systems in the surrounding towns, like the charming human wreckage that is Newhaven. Lewes sits pristine and smug like an overfed spider at the heart of a web dangling with corpses. Overhanging the town is the mass of Mount Caburn, an orphan lump of the South Downs that once produced Britain’s deadliest avalanche during some Dickensian 19thC winter. The tragedy is that global warming makes it unlikely to happen again.

Some towns are terrible because of deprivation but the sheer odious poshness of Lewes is what makes it unbearable. It is full of London professionals, pseudo intellectual numpties from the nearby University of Sussex, pretentious artists and faux bohemians living off some inheritance, divorce settlement or the fading glow of a famous relative. Many have top lips pulled back over their upper gum as if they just necked a pint of screen wash. They live in a bizarre bubble where everything revolves around their own niche interests and where they are oblivious to the grottiness which they live on top of. If you get trapped in conversation they will often try and assure you that ‘everybody’ goes somewhere or knows someone, meaning people like them and not you. They also have a nasty habit of trying to pass their entitled existence off as a bit of ironic fun by making observations about the cost of living that begin, ‘I know it sounds bad, but my cleaner told me…’ One resident once castigated me for paying rent, ‘oh no, you must buy, otherwise you’re just giving away money to someone else’ as if it was some revelatory piece of wisdom that would turn my life around. The only joy these people provide is if you stand on Cliffe High Street and listen out for parents calling out implausible names, ‘Saturnalia, Lucinda, Edwin, Gabriel, come back to mummy, do you hear?’

To keep all these wasters from having to do their own cleaning there is a conveyor belt of knuckle draggers from the surrounding dreary coastal towns. North of Watford you can blame a lot on deindustrialisation, rant about migration or pick a political party to hate about. Rural Sussex has none of these excuses. Its inhabitants are descended from forelock tugging, pinch faced, mean spirited trash whose forebears didn’t build the industrial age or travel from afar for a new life, they have added nothing to Britain but cocaine smuggling, jellied eel consumption and casual bigotry. If you are normally happy to walk around Brighton in alternative attire or holding a same *** partner’s hand, then a day out in Lewes and its surrounding districts can have a few nasty surprises behind its farm shop loving twee facade.

How grim is your Postcode?

The lack of schools in surrounding towns means that Lewes’s train station and bus stops often attract the offspring of Lewes’ untouchable caste. This can create some weird situations: cafes full of blue rinse old biddies and florid men in pink trousers and tweed jackets with padded elbows sitting in blissful ignorance of the tracksuited teen yobs on the next table trying to speak London style ‘roadman’ English. Some strange optical effect stops either side seeing each other. Visitors might not be so lucky. I recently had the pleasure of getting hounded down the street by a crowd of yobs yelling anti-goth slurs and I’ve heard of it happening to less posh gay visitors too, it’s as if only the truly middle class are immune, but woe betide anyone from outside who isn’t prone to cousin marriage, drab conformism of dress and preserving anti Catholic traditions as good natured family fun.

Lewes epitomises the ghastliness of the Southern Counties, smug undeserved wealth held by gob-smackingly pompous people, utterly incapable of relating to those who insulate them from doing chores, resting their buttocks on the backs of a servile menial class descended from those who surrendered fastest to their new Norman masters and have been joyously licking boot leather and waving union flags ever since. Everytime I feel the LNER pull out of King’s Cross and send me North bound again I feel joy to be on the final leg of an escape run from this odious, self-satisfied puckered **** of a place.