David Bramwell Interviewed About Communities, Secret Italian Temples, And Why He Loves Bom-Bane’s

David Bramwell is someone that does many things well. On his occupation roll call he’s got author, journalist, documentary maker, podcaster, public speaker and musician (God, he’s probably really good at cooking too).

Perhaps not surprisingly, he’s electrically engaging company so we’re delighted that he’s coming to PLATF9RM to give a talk about his book, The No.9 Bus To Utopia. He wrote the book after a difficult break-up and, deciding he needed to get better acquainted with the art of sharing, went off in search of Europe and America’s most unique communities.

We grabbed David – a Hanover resident and also co-author of the massively successful Cheeky Guide To Brighton – for a chat to talk happy communing and the best of secret Brighton.


PLATF9RM: To the uninitiated, can you describe the premise of No.9 Bus To Utopia?

David: I spent a year traveling around Europe and America, visiting the strangest and most inspiring alternative communities. I went to anarchist communities, free love communities, fetish communities, spiritual communities. My favourite was Damanhur in the Italian Alps. They built an underground temple that’s the size of St Paul’s Cathedral. No-one even knew they had done it! They also claim to have built a time machine and to have taught plants how to sing…


Woah. Can anyone go to Damanhur?

Yes. I love encouraging people to go there! People should cross the Pyramids or the Sphinx off their bucket list and go to Damanhur instead.


How old were you when you were doing this?

I’m 50 now and it was nine years ago so you can work back from there…


How do you relate to the person who wrote the book?

At that time I was immersed in the cult of individualism that western societies fought so hard for in the 20th-century. It’s like the Wild Ones sample used by Primal Scream (in the song 'Loaded'): “We wanna be free to do what we wanna do. We wanna get loaded and have a good time”. There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with this but there’s a lack of community and sharing and we lead more isolated lives. There’s a price to pay: we have spiraling depression; increased suicide rates; people having a lack of meaning and purpose.


Do you think people are now starting to become more aware of the importance of community?

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I do. Look at something like Sunday Assembly. It has the community aspects of church, but does away with the need to believe in an interventionist God. So you attend, sing along to Cyndi Lauper or ABBA, have some cake and watch a great speaker. I think we’re turning to experience-based community sharing.


You are a freelance writer so you must encounter periods of solitude. How do you combat this?

I do, absolutely. Last week i did some voluntary work and spent the day handing out tote bags and stickers at Brighton Digital job fair. It gave me a sense of sharing and being involved in my community.


Were there any common traits in the communities you visited?

Pride is a troublesome word but I’d say pride in the place, the life and the system they’ve chosen to live by. Also the necessity of compromise when you’re living with a bunch of people. Neighbourliness! When I was in Christiana, an anarchist community in Copenhagen, a guy was doing massive changes to his house. I told him he was going to have to hire some professionals. He said, “Why would I do that? My neighbours will help me.”

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Did you find that people were happier?

People were happier in these communities because they’d made a choice go there. They were mindful of their neighbour’s health. I was massively struck by was how creative the architecture was; when people are left to their own devices they don’t just build their ordinary homes; the build really amazing buildings.


You also wrote the Cheeky Guide To Brighton which has been a huge success. What three secret things would you recommend to do in the city?

Club Silencio at Subline: the best, the weirdest, the most funny underground cabaret night. It’s run by Stuart Warwick and is just brilliant; it could only come from Brighton.

Bom-Bane’s on St George’s Street is the home of Jane Bon-Bane. She’s a wonderful human being and a great performer who does a lot of nights in her 27-capacity room downstairs. Despite its size she’s had people like Stewart Lee, Jerry Dammers from The Specials, and Robin Williamson from The Incredible String Band. Big name performers go there because they love her.

My number three would be Brighton’s weirdest piece of outsider art. It’s on the beach between Concorde 2 and the Palace Pier; a stone grotto created by fishermen that continues to grow. It has strange figures looking out to see, it has creatures, 12-foot high stone statues, archways, all built from flint from the beach. When you walk past it – it’s big and and there’s a fence round it – you almost don't see it. But when you look for it, you’ll think, ‘How did I not see this before?’.


We’ll be sure to check it out. Thanks David!
 
David’s talk is on Wednesday, July 4th. You can buy tickets here and all proceeds go to our 2018 partner charity, Clock Tower Sanctuary.

Member of The Week - Jesse Sharp

Introducing one of our newest PLATF9RM members, Jesse Sharp - travel counsellor, proud motorbike owner and born and bred Brightonian.

So, Jesse, you grew up around these parts and have been travelling the world for quite a few years. So what has brought you back to Brighton?

The main reason is my family & friends, I have 4 siblings and 6 nieces and nephews, so that was a big part of it. Also Brighton is bloody awesome, and in my opinion (I may be biased) the best place in England to live.

When I was 18 I lived in Australia for a year, then spent three years in London but was still travelling a lot during that time. I then spent some time in Asia and Valencia but Brighton feels perfect for now – there’s enough to do that you don’t get bored but you still can get everywhere easily.

What was the first trip you ever made?

The first solo trip I did was driving the whole way around Australia in an old 1970’s camper van... it died many times along the way.

Is there a particular low-point of any trip that stands out to you where you thought ‘Ok I am really in the sh*t here’?

Too many! The scariest one was when I went to Israel during the war in 2006 and went to a diving town called Eilat, near the border of Egypt. It was pitch black and we were waiting for our taxi back to the main town. A car pulled over which had just come from Egypt and four men jumped out and told us to get in their car, they didn’t speak any English and were shouting at us in Arabic. We had no idea what was going on but after about 30 seconds, an Israeli army patrol vehicle showed up and we shouted for help. They came over and arrested them. It was absolutely mental. Don’t let that put you off visiting Israel though, it’s one of the best places I’ve been to! Just avoid the border areas if you do go.

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If you had to recommend one country outside of Europe to PLATF9RM's members which one would it be?

That’s always a difficult question because everyone is different and wants different things from their holiday. A country which is perfect for someone might be someone else’s idea of hell. That being said, Uganda, Sri Lanka and Argentina are personal favourites.

Uganda because it’s unbelievably different and I wasn’t expecting the scenery to be that green and beautiful. Sri lanka because the people are so friendly and once again the scenery is amazing. I really enjoyed the Argentinian music and way of life, I found the people very passionate and they liked to party. We were in the far far north in villages and towns and kept stopping off at different bars.


What sealed the deal for you becoming a member at PLATF9RM?

The vibe and atmosphere here felt very welcoming and warm and the staff are all lovely.


If you could go by any name what would it be and why?

Jesse Attenborough so I can try and blag that I’m related to big Dave.


What is the most useless talent you have?

I can make a water droplet sound with my mouth.

Where is your spot of choice to work at PLATF9RM?

I like the sofas on floor 6, its nice and sociable and closest to the beer on Fridays.

With £100,000 to splash what is the first thing you would do?

Well, on the side of my job I also help run a charity building libraries in developing countries, so a big chunk of that money would go towards that. But also, maybe a Triumph motorbike would end up in my driveway as well and then maybe me and that triumph would somehow find ourselves doing route 66 in America. I’d probably also take my family away on an amazing adventure to the Antarctic.


Cheers Jesse!

If you think you want to be a member at our space, get in touch for a tour and trial.

Father’s Day Is Coming So PLATF9RM Members Told Us How Their Dads Inspired Them (Warning: Contains Cute Pictures)

You know who’s great? Dads. We think they’re so rad that we’ve asked five PLATF9RM members to write about how their Pop inspired them. It’s Father’s Day this weekend so get on the phone and tell yours why he is, quite literally, the man.


Kerri Lush

Earlier this year, my Dad was falsely diagnosed with lung cancer and given 3 months to live. I'm not sure what most folk would do with such a diagnosis, but he remained calm and maintained his composure. He carried on going to work, learning and improving, all whilst bearing the burdens of life, almost in opposition to his adversity. Whilst his loved ones prepared for the worst, my father set about putting his life in order far sooner than he had planned.

For several weeks, my Dad walked the line between order and chaos. It felt like he had been to the abyss and (thankfully) survived to tell the tale. His bravery in the face of an unexpected death sentence was incredibly inspiring. I hope that I will be ready to face my own mortality as bravely and courageously as he has when the time comes.

 

Kerry Lockwood - PLATF9RM Location Manager

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Growing up people always remarked on how much I resembled my Mum, especially those who had known her as a child. We’re alarmingly similar. However it’s in more recent years that I have attributed more and more of myself to my Dad (not just my forehead!).

My Dad is naturally introverted, one of life’s great observers, and maybe because of this his quick wit and cheekiness are all the more enjoyable. I think men of my Dads generation had no option but to be grafters, and I know that my work ethic derives from his influence ~ report cards from school were always judged on my effort over my grades.

My Dad was predominately raised by women, and perhaps as such has always been an empathetic and kind presence. Though his teasing (particular of my teenage dress sense) has always been relentless, my dads belief in me is boundless, and though he’s not a verbally loving man, he shows it to no end in his actions and small, considered gestures. In a family of non-stop talkers, I love my Dad the listener, sat taking it all in.

 

David Hillier - David Hillier Writes

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My brother once told me that my twenties were a “gap decade”. For this period of extended post-pubescence my Dad (ably supported by my Mum) gave me constant encouragement as I strolled through a number of questionable career and life choices. Bear in mind my Dad is a man who ran his own business for over 40 years, considered 12 hour days normal, and for whom a day off involved carting me to football on a fuming February Sunday afternoon to watch my team get habitually thrashed 8-0 before I sulked all the way home.

As I rounded the corner into my 30s I finally got a grip and managed to carve out a career doing the one thing I’d always wanted to do. I feel so blessed to do a job I love and, weirdly, I’ve become a workaholic with a drive to succeed that still surprises me. I wonder who inspired that…

 

Myles Lucas - Myles Lucas Studio

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My dad is probably the most driven person I know. He has raced competitively for the same running club since he was 25, been running for Team GB veterans since he was 40, and has a world record for the men's over 45s at 4x400m relay. He is now close to 70 and still going. He is always focused on getting faster and fitter, which usually involves going training about 4 or 5 times a week. He managed to keep this up the whole time he was a deputy headteacher, until he retired five years ago. I’ve always felt that if I’m able to be 50% as focused on my hobbies and career as he has been, I’ll be on a good path for the future...

 

Tess Agnew - The FitBits

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My Dad is my hero. Strong, caring and the hardest worker I know. As well as teaching me the value of money, how to work hard and be nice to people, he gave me the greatest gift in life and taught me how to ride a bike. This has led me to so many new and exciting adventures; not just for play but for work too. He let me be who I wanted to be growing up, and encouraged me to follow my heart and not my head. To do what makes me happy. He’s the only person I listen to when I really need advice, and even though we don’t see each other much, when I need him, he’s right there. My Dad’s mega.

 

Matt Miller - PLATF9RM Front of House


Since I was a little fella,

There was this crazy old bloke,

He was a fire place seller,

That dealt with old women and unidentified smoke.


From day one he was a wonder,

A mere sight to behold,

Kept me safe from thunder,

Kept me warm when I was cold.


People say we look the same,

I share his looks and overly feminine persona,

Luckily the belly never came (not yet),

And with him as my best mate, I’m never a loner.


But that’s enough of the soppy,

These days he prefers humour,

His dad jokes he claims I copy,

But that’s just a vicious rumour.


However, I leave you with this…


What is the difference,

Between a blind archer and a constipated owl,

One can shoot but not hit,

The other can hoot but not sh**.


I’ll leave you to decide the creator.

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Member of The Week - Philip Berman

Philip Berman is the Creative Director of Larchmont Films, an ex-BBC and C4 producer/director, and one of our longest standing members at PLATF9RM. We finally managed to pin him down to chat about football fanaticism and 80's music.

Hello Philip! So you've been a loyal PLATF9RM member since the beginning. How did you first hear about us?

It was thanks to a neighbour, James Christie-Miller who used to work with former PLATF9RM front of house, Daisy.


What has been your favourite PLATF9RM event so far?

It was the quiz you hosted in September, it was a good chance to mix and mingle. It had a nice, friendly ambience and the cheese tasting was a lot of fun.

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How do you feel about being interviewed, I know some people have aversions to talking about themselves!

I don’t mind being interviewed too much if it’s a subject I’m very well prepared for. I don’t have fixed views on lots of things. I'm a case-by-case person. Also with my background in journalism it's normally me asking the questions.

Tony Benn was renowned for always recording his own interviews - he was slightly suspicious of journalists and worried about his words being skewed or misconstrued.


If you could interview anyone in the world who would it be?

At the moment it would be Arsene Wenger. There are thousands of questions I would like to ask him. I would be very interested to know how he’s coached his defensive line over the last few years. However you would have to ensure he takes some kind of truth serum drug beforehand in order to have a genuinely honest, open interview.

*This interview was conducted just after Wenger stepped down. If Philip was asked the same question today he would say Theresa May to get the spill on Brexit.


What did you have dreams of being when you were younger?

A football journalist. In fact I was a football journalist for a little while. There’s a bit of a theme coming through here - my obsession with football. People often say it’s a childish thing you grow out of but I haven’t.


When is the best month to be in Brighton?

Well I don’t want to give the obvious answer but I’d be contrary to say anything but May. I could say April because you still have May to come and it’s also my daughter's birthday. But it has to be May, for obvious reasons (Open Houses, The Great Escape, Brighton Fringe etc).


Who are your favourite band that you don’t get bored of listening to?

Joy Division and New Order. Because they’ve been imitated so much. Purists would say they’re different bands and they are, and I might be criticised for lumping the two together, but the spirit is there with both.

They were ahead of their time and I think the bands that you loved when you were growing up have more emotional resonance. Some of their music still sounds really fresh. The 80's goth and synth revivals constantly remind me of their music. I lived in Manchester for a long while, and being interested in New Order, Tony Wilson, Factory Records and The Hacienda was woven into the fabric of it all.


What is the biggest change you’ve noticed at PLATF9RM since our opening?

More people. And the question is can PLATF9RM keep that community feel as it gets bigger? With people like Grace on the front desk we’re in safe hands! Always good to end with a bit of flattery!


Thank you for the insights (and the flattery) Philip!

If you think you want to be a member at our space, get in touch for a tour and trial.