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You just know the moment you walk through the front door

The Town Hall, Bartholomew Square


Bruce had called the taxi. "We donít want to be early," Nas had niggled. But here it is outside, waiting.


So now theyíre early, Bruce and Nas and their two sisters. After the short ride from Kemptown, the taxi deposits them outside the Town Hall, Bruce and Nas smart in jackets and ties, the two sisters in their big hats. (Nasís sister isnít really a hat person. Bruceís sister has lent her one.)


"Itís better than being late," says Bruce. In amongst the early day-trippers, they order coffee.


Outside, by the Town Hall steps, waits an elderly chap with a camera. Heís holding a wallet full of pictures of couples. "Itís £30 for six."


Nas ignores him, walking on, but the sister-witnesses in their hats insist they hire him.


Today Nas and Bruce will become the 600th couple to sign a Civil Partnership document in Brighton since the law changed on December 5th 2005. Like Nas, Bruce is proud to live in a place where things like this happen, but truthfully, as far as heís concerned, this is just a legal document. A partnership finally gives him and Nas something they had always been denied. After 26 years together, 18 as business partners, they donít need a piece of paper to prove how much they love each other. But what would become of the other if one of them should die? What if, say, Nasís family demanded a religious funeral? Bruce wouldnít have had a say Ė until today.


When they first met their relationship was illegal. Nas had been 18. Though Bruce was not much older, technically Nas had been underage. Ridiculous. It makes you realise how much has changed.


Now inside, before the registrar and the old photographer, the couple sign the Civil Partnership document and exchange the two second-hand gold rings that Nas bought at the last minute yesterday from Lambtonís.


Bruce has always been quite dismissive. Itís just a piece of paper. But right now, as he leans forward to kiss Nas, their sisters looking proudly on, Bruce feels a lump in his throat.


You just know the moment you walk through the front door

The Clock Tower at the junction of West St and Queenís Road, built in 1888 to commemorate Queen Victoriaís Golden Jubilee


Under Queen Victoriaís blank gaze, Monika puts the brake on the buggy and sits on the ledge that surrounds the Clock Tower.


It has been a hard morning for Ben. He had to have his injection. Here the doctors are all so stiff-upper-lipped. She just jabbed in the needle.


Monika twists the lid off the Boots Organic Pasta and Ham in Tomato Sauce, and watches the world go by as Ben gulps it down.


She and her husband hadnít intended to move to Brighton. They hadnít even wanted to move back to England after America, but his work has brought him home. To compensate, they fantasised about the rural life, a big garden for Ben and the dog. But the reality, they realised, would be too... commuter-ish, too claustrophobic.


Instead, they started to look around. Thatís how they found themselves drinking tea in a café in St James' street, looking at each other and thinking, This is great. People here seemed so laid back.


They have rented in Seven Dials; finding a house to buy is harder. They go so fast. By the time theyíre advertised in a magazine theyíre already sold.


Two weeks ago they trudged to Fiveways not thinking they stood a chance with this one. It was an open day with loads of others viewing it. At the top they found a lovely, double-fronted Edwardian house with a sunny conservatory, a Juliet balcony and an organic café nearby.


Itís like a relationship. There arenít necessarily reasons why itís going to be right. You just know the moment you walk through the front door.


Last week their offer was accepted. Sheís just been to the solicitor this morning.


A few days ago Ben started taking his first unsteady footsteps. In a bag at her feet is the baby walker sheís just bought from Mothercare. She wonders what this town will be like for them; how her husband is going to cope with the commute, whether theyíll be in by summer.


Reaching into her bag, she pulls out a jar of Organix Banana and Mango.


Date: 2015-12-24; view: 545

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