“It began that summer, a hot and sticky summer that made the air shimmer and the walls melt.”
We’re back in Brighton, for the third in our trilogy of books set in Southern England’s biggest seaside resort. The book we’re taking for a walk this time is a tale of bloody revenge set against a 1980s backdrop of shifting sexual politics and wrenching political change. Our guide is Bella, who woke up one morning and realised she’d had enough. She’s the heroine of Helen Zahavi’s controversial bestseller and literary tour de force Dirty Weekend – and its film adaptation, a curious affair brought to you by Michael Winner.
Bella gets under your skin – sometimes with a hammer – so to get under hers we tracked down her basement flat in Brunswick Place, where a sex pest with the unholy name of Tim begins making nuisance calls, only to pay the ultimate price.
We hunt for the Hotel Samara, scene of Bella’s second murder, but with limited success, though we do find Kylie Minogue’s favourite hotel in Brighton. We track down the gun shop in which Bella tries and fails to buy a gun, and then we ourselves try and fail to find the pub where she actually gets a hand on one.
Then it’s over to Hove and a multi-storey car park, where evil dentist Reggie meets his end, crushed between a Mercedes CE and a wall of brutalist concrete. Finally, we visit the old goods yard behind Brighton station where we discuss the rancid history of lager louts on the site – now transformed into cosy flats – of Bella’s fourth, fifth and sixth kills.
Each month we road test a work of fiction that appears to be curiously specific about dates and locations. We go to the places mentioned and see if descriptions are accurate, journey times credible, dates and days all in order. Along the way, we learn things, about the book, and its author.
Sources & Credits
Michael Winner and Dirty Weekend – http://www.helenzahavi.com/michael-winner-dirty-weekend
The Worst of Times: ‘I wasn’t paranoid this was terrorism’ – https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/the-worst-of-times-i-wasnt-paranoid-this-was-terrorism-helen-zahavi-talks-to-danny-danziger-1480683.html
Strangers, John Lanchester – https://www.lrb.co.uk/v13/n13/john-lanchester/strangers
Weather 1989 – http://www.london-weather.eu/article.128.html
Panic on the Streets of Woking: Rise of the Lager Lout – https://boakandbailey.com/2017/08/panic-on-the-streets-of-woking-rise-of-the-lager-lout/
Is Brighton really Britain’s worst holiday resort? – https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/shortcuts/2013/aug/26/brighton-britains-worst-holiday-resort
C&H Weston – http://airgunexpress.co.uk/
Drakes of Brighton – https://drakesofbrighton.com/guestrooms
“Who out there remembers Chaplins bar under the Royal Crescent Hotel?” – https://www.mybrightonandhove.org.uk/topic/royal-crescent-hotel-chaplins-bar
Stanley Price, Crusading for Kronk – https://books.google.co.uk/books/about/Crusading_for_Kronk.html?id=co5LAAAAIAAJ&redir_esc=y
Interview with Helen Zahavi – http://www.kaliber38.de/features/zahavi/zahavi_english.htm
New England Quarter – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_England_Quarter
Killing Eve official trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kk0PyD-XNZA
Dirty Weekend full movie – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a9QerkRmv_k
Kill Bill Volume 2 ‘That Woman Deserves Her Revenge’ – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l4L9Yi-lXbo
Kelis, ‘Caught Out There’ – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N3JFwd1bk4Q
The Beguiled trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iBoLK5z_FHo