A day trip to Brighton and a film about breast cancer

Last week, I hopped on a train for a day trip to Brighton.  My real reason for going was to watch a film (more on that in a bit) but I thought I may as well make a day of it, and so I headed off bright and early in the morning.

I love Brighton, I really do.  I have only been there a couple of times, but I've always had a good feeling about the city whenever I've been.  This time, I was planning on doing proper touristy things, so I started at the Royal Pavilion.  It's a beautiful building, incredibly extravagant and very much OTT.  I'd found a 10% discount online for adult entry (every penny helps!) and was soon wandering around.  I'm not a fan of audio guides, I much prefer reading information rather than have a voice in my ear tell me what I should be looking at.  So whilst the audio guide is included in the ticket price, I declined to have one.  The audio guide machines don't have headphones, so annoyingly you can hear what other people are listening to - this is a tad frustrating when the man in front of you and the lady behind you are not in sync and you're hearing two different things!  But this is a minor quibble.

No photography is allowed inside, but a quick internet search will bring up lots of images.  I loved the banqueting hall, with an amazing dragon chandelier hanging from the ceiling - if I ever have a property with a banqueting hall (imagine the heating bills!) then I will be having a dragon chandelier!

My favourite area was where there was some restoration work going on with the walls and wallpaper - it was interesting to watch the men on the scaffolding work, and there were displays around the walls showing you bits of the original wallpaper, the process of restoring what they could, and the parallel process of trying to replicate the original in order to restore the whole room to its former glory.  Very interesting and informative.

It had taken me about an hour to walk round, so I felt it was time for tea.  The Pavilion does have its own tea rooms, but I was rather put off by the sandwich board advertising tea's and coffee's (I know it's not just me!) so instead I decided to find somewhere else in the city.  I stopped off at the gift shop and bought a few postcards, including this rather lovely one of Sussex.  

As I came out of the gift shop I realised it had stopped raining (hurrah!) so I headed for the pier.  That's another thing I love about Brighton, it's really easy to navigate around and there are lots of tourist maps at road crossings so it's quite simple to work out where you're going.

The rain might have stopped, but it was still bitterly cold, and very windy.  There were lots of big waves and I stood and watched them for a while.

At the entrance to the pier there were quite a few small groups of tourists, and I did my Brownie Good Turn for the day by taking lots of photos for them all.  Turns out I can't use Samsung phones, as I had to ask its owner to reset it for me three times.  I do hope her photo came out well after all that!

I kept walking along the pier, in order to get to The Best Funfair in the South.  Unfortunately, as it was mainly shut, I cannot say how accurate this sign is.  

As I turned back and walked down the west side of the pier the sun had come out more and Brighton looked all lovely.

I do like piers.  

Ben had requested some rock, so I obliged.  I noticed it was almost midday so I left the pier and went on the hunt for some lunch.

After an excellent burger for lunch (Brighton may well be full of very good vegetarian and vegan places to eat, but I just wanted a burger) I whiled away a few hours shopping and a couple more hours sitting in a cafe drinking tea and reading a book.  Quite an idyllic way of spending a few hours.

Finally, I headed to a nearby venue to watch a screening of Pink Ribbons, Inc.  It's a documentary about the pink ribbon associated with breast cancer.  My PhD was about the experiences of men diagnosed with breast cancer, and naturally the pink ribbon and associated campaigns featured heavily in the interviews I did with my respondents, as well as in academic reading and reading more generally.  I submitted my thesis early last November, and my introduction focused on that October's breast cancer awareness month (BCAM).

It would now be incredibly difficult to separate breast cancer awareness and campaigns from the pink ribbon - as far as I still know, the pink ribbon is the only colour of ribbon to be associated with just one medial condition or event or awareness campaign.  It's also one of the few colours that multiple charities and organisations are agreed upon and share.

In my research, I found a variety of opinions about and feelings towards the pink ribbon - some people I spoke with loved it, loved having an icon and a wider community of which they were now a part, others didn't really have an opinion, and others were close to disliking it  - partly because pink is associated with femininity, further alienating men diagnosed with this form of cancer, partly because it tries to inspire hope and optimism for the future, when often people with cancer simply don't have that much of a future.

I thought the documentary was very well balanced - there were interviews with staff members and ambassadors for the major North American contributors to various pink ribbon campaigns (such as Avon and Ford) as well as interviews with people who disagreed with some of the strategies of these companies, as well as women who had been diagnosed with breast cancer and were fully supportive of the pink ribbon and women who had been diagnosed with breast cancer and did not like it - with one woman even saying it was 'evil'.  

A focus was on how companies use pink ribbon marketing in order to increase sales - such as one yogurt company who would donate 1 cent to a breast cancer charity for every yogurt lid sent back to them during the four months of the campaign.  As the documentary pointed out, if one person ate three yogurts a day for the entirety of the campaign, collected and cleaned all the lids, paid for a stamp and envelope to post them off, the company would only have donated $34 to the charity - arguably, the individual would have been better off donating that money in the first place (unless of course they do like yogurts and would have eaten three a day anyway).  

Personally, I've often wondered about products which say something like '50p from every item sold will go towards this charity' and the small print then says something like *up to the value of £10,000.  So how do I know when that amount has been reached?  If I buy this product rather than a competitor, because I want 50p to go to charity, if that amount has been reached, who keeps the 50p?

The documentary also looked at 'pinkwashing' where companies get involved with breast cancer campaigns to improve their image, yet manufacture products that may be carcinogenic.  The argument continues that out of all the millions of dollars raised each year, barely any goes towards prevention, or exploring risk factors.  In fact, does anyone really know where the money does go?

There were also interviews with the 'IV League', a small group of women diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer (there is no stage V) who were increasingly frustrated with the pink ribbon - the language used such as fighting cancer, trying to beat cancer, working hard to combat the disease, then losing a battle if your diagnosis was terminal and eventually losing the fight.  These women explained how they had been made to feel they hadn't fought hard enough, as their cancer was terminal, they weren't going to be survivors.  

Overall, it was a great though-provoking film that I'm pleased I've finally got round to seeing.  The group of women who organised it had arranged for a discussion afterwards, which I missed as I needed to get home - although judging by the chatter as I was leaving, I can imagine it was a lively debate!

A train going to my destination just happened to be sitting at the station when I arrived (love it when that happens!) so I got home at a reasonable time, having had a good day out.  It was lovely to spend some time in Brighton, and then engage with a film that made me think about the knowledge I have. What with currently being unemployed, I do sometimes feel as though I'm losing brain cells, so it was reassuring to know they're still there waiting to be used!


  1. This sounds like an ace day out, you've inspired me to go wandering on my next day off and explore a new town on my own.

    1. Much as I love company, sometimes it is quite good to just be on your own...you can wander round as fast or as slowly as you like, stopping for as many cups of tea as you like!


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