I went along to Brighton Pride yesterday.
I have never been to a Pride before, but it seemed a good idea after a dull and depressing week.
So off the London train, and in the drizzle, I followed the crowds to the park venue.
It was still only mid-afternoon, but some apartments were putting up balcony shows for the passers by. Men dressed as sailors and policemen waved and blew kisses.
Down below, the mood in the crowds was light-hearted.
By the time I got to the soggy park I was springing forward and cheerful. And I actually stayed in this mood all day.
The park was a cross between a fancy dress fete and a November 5th fairground.
I quickly became used to same-sex couples holding hands; so much so that after one hour I looked twice at a mixed-sex couple holding hands.
However, the event at the park had no focus. I did not see a main stage. Perhaps it was the wrong time of day.
It was just people milling around.
Brighton Pride did not really seem to be an event; it was a grand day out.
So I also milled about.
A lovely old man was in his electric chair, with a sign attached: "The Oldest Gay in the Village". He chatted happily to some delighted teenage girls. I posed for a photo outside the Christian tent. I ate a god-awful Veggie burger. I walked past the kilt stall doing its brisk business. I gave a half-hearted hard stare at the police recruitment lorry.
And I got on the bus just before it started pissing down.
Back in the centre of Brighton I ended up at a lesbian pub and watched some great stand-up from Claire Parker, an excellent comedienne wittily reflecting on her transgender journey.
After the show I talked with Claire and her girlfriends, and I heard this absolute gem.
Lemmy from Motorhead is called by a tabloid journalist.
Scandal, he is told, will lead the following day's edition. Indeed, a scandal about this very man who has supposedly slept with thousands of women.
The paper can reveal that Lemmy has - shock horror - slept with a transsexual.
But Lemmy couldn't care less.
"If she has got the balls to cut them off, then I certainly have got the balls to fuck her".
And the paper didn't bother with the story.
Everyone was happy on the train back. I am a veteran of last-trains-home from around the UK; and this was perhaps he jolliest, though for once I felt sorry for a ticket inspector, as he reasoned with Anthony (with a "fer") who simply waved his belt of plastic bullets in First Class.
It was all great fun, but I suppose I expected more - some - politics. I did not hear a speech, or see a slogan, or even a single red ribbon. Pride - like Bonfire Night - may have been in its origin a political festival; now - again like Bonfire Night - it is a colourful date in the diary.
I do not know whether this shift is a good development or not; but, insofar as there was joy and liberalism in almost everything I saw, Pride is undeniably a very good thing.
Jack of Kent.