Republicans have been putting faces to names – and what a pleasure it has been!
This week, I have met more than 20 “PRoBaHs” that I had never before laid eyes on.
(Oh! PRoBaHs? – People’s Republic of Brighton and Hove-r – how you say that – as in the sentence “If a politician can’t open a door for you – use a PRoBaH!”)
On Monday I met our splendiferous Honourable Figurehead Jason Smart and our rumbunctious Minister for Misinformation Peter Stlyes, for drinks, laughter and just a hint of plotting. More briefly, I met Brighton Belle and Carisbrooke Creed, who, like myself, do not tend to go by those names in real life.
In all cases, it was about a million times more interesting and enjoyable than speaking to any of them online. The internet has its place – without it, there’d be no Republic at all – but we all know it can get tricky.
And then there was yesterday, the unofficial under-launch of the Badge People Agreed On, as I like to call it.
In response to a number of requests to be at certain times and places to provide badges in my ministerial badgery-type role, I decided to meet as many of them as I could and embarked on a Ministerial Tour of the Republic.
I was ably accompanied by someone who should be appointed as the Minister for Bringing Lightness and Joy, Mandy Pannett-Green (pictured celebrating her new status as First to Wear the Badge People Agreed On).
Sitting at the clock tower in Preston Park, waiting for people to arrive for their badges, and wondering if they would, Mandy struck up a conversation with a young man. They spoke at some length, the content not to be repeated here. At the end of their chat, unprompted, he donated some coinage and put on his badge. Many badges were sold yesterday, but that was the one that meant the most to me. He liked the concept of our little Republic, wanted to identify with it and be part of it – so he gave us what he could. This is the role our lovely badges can play.
As they chatted, the people who said they might arrive, arrived. These included such luminaries as the Minister Without a Clue, Louis Loizou; Sally; Tracy; Ali; Anne, and Andy and Becky.
A bit of a saga developed as messages from a beleaguered Sally arrived from London Road, where she was stuck in traffic, only to find when she did eventually arrive that her husband had trundled along unbeknownst to pick up a badge for her.
Much friendly chatter, hand-shaking and even the odd hug ensued – mostly things you can’t do online.
Mandy and I sauntered off in the direction of Joni’s shop in Gloucester Road to give her a badge batch for bartering purposes.
Joni, a fellow PRoBaH, has selflessly made the first Ministerial Item, a lovely usherette’s tray, the pride of the Department.
While there, Mandy and I enjoyed scarily accurate Tarot Readings based on the turn of a single card.
We are delighted to report that badges are now on sale at the shop, which should save the Minister’s tired legs for now.
Dinner followed at the Alcampo Lounge on London Road, where Colin was hosting a meeting of the entirely worthy Compass organisation. Supported by Caroline Lucas, Labour luminaries and the TUC, it brings together “left progressives” to work together on beneficial projects. They will be at Sunday’s party if you want to meet them there. Every man Jack and woman Jill of them bought a badge following a small word of introduction from Colin.
In addition, the very agreeable young man and equally agreeable young woman behind the bar asked about the Republic and agreed to wear badges during the entire shift and tell people what we’re all about, if asked.
Post-prandial drinks were enjoyed at The Crown & Anchor, just off Preston Park, with the thoroughly engaging Steve. A Peckham boy and Millwall fan, he explodes the Green Party stereotype.
He imparted to Mandy and I that the Greens are taking PBRH “very seriously”. So, it seems now, is the Argus.
A final stroll home before heads hit pillows following a thoroughly enjoyable day.