The taxi rank outside the Brighton Conference Centre
Valentine’s could be miserable. At work it was always, Who’s getting roses? Who’s getting cards? Not Stella.
So when a friend asked her out to a party, it was, "Yeah. Definitely."
The irony was, the night called Love2Love was organised to launch a dating agency. Stella didn’t date; she’d given up on it. It was pretty much a New Year’s resolution.
Stella had been single for years. She’d tried speed dating, Guardian Soulmates, lots of things, but they never led anywhere. Non-smoker, didn’t drink. Even if the men she met spoke about commitment, they didn’t want it.
She hadn’t expected to end up this way. Her sister got married last year. That has been a big thing; she was four years younger. Stella concluded if wasn’t going to happen, she couldn’t make it. She should relax, enjoy herself instead.
They’d decorated the Lo Lounge with heart-shaped balloons, and hired Cupid, bare-chested, with feather angel wings and jeans.
She might not have actually been dating, but she circulated, talked to a few men, had a good time. But then, around ten, there was this man sitting at the bar who looked a little left out so she tapped him on the shoulder and said, "Hi."
He was Chris. He’d been to Australia. Stella had too. Chris was a mechanic. Stella was really passionate about Formula One. She suddenly became aware how... comfortable she was talking to this man. Really comfortable. He was really nice.
"Look," she said. "I’ll catch up with you later. Perhaps have a dance."
And she left, to chat to others. Later, when they danced, he was still nice. She liked that he wasn’t all over her.
At midnight in the ladies’, they demanded, "Ooh. Have you met someone?"
Much later, the last two to leave, they wait outside the conference centre, looking for a cab to share. They haven’t yet swapped numbers. She’s trying not to expect too much. In her hands are the balloons she’d asked him to fetch her from the party.
No flowers, no cards, but this year she does have balloons.
BRIGHTON: 41 PLACES: 41 STORIES
41 Places is a city-wide artwork of 41 true stories, installed in the place where they happened – stories of people who live, work and play in Brighton.
With new printing techniques arriving by the day, you can now put words almost anywhere. 41 Places is a bold experiment at putting stories into the built environment – you could call it site-specific publishing. With 41 Places, a piece of writing becomes a crafted artefact, part of the landscape and architecture of the town. Changing the context of where you read something can dramatically affect how you read it. These are stories published in their own context.
The result is that in 41 Places, narrative non-fiction miniatures become something between a giant work of art, scattered through the city, and a treasure hunt of stories.
The narratives were collected by Shaw between September 2006 and April 2007 and designed and installed by Richard Wölfstrome, John Easterby and Tom Snell.
William Shaw is a writer living in Brighton. He’s the author of several non-fiction books, including Westsiders: Stories of the Boys in the Hood, based on the time he spent in South Central Los Angeles, and Superhero For Hire, a collection of his Small Ads columns for The Observer newspaper.
Richard Wolfströme is an award-winning designer and typographer with a radical approach to how information can be communicated visually. Client list includes Arts & Business, London Fire Brigade, Creative Partnerships, DrugScope and Brighton Festival. Richard is a member of the International Society of Typographic Designers.
John Easterby and Tom Snell are part of Standard8, a Lewes-based exhibition design and installation company with a unique record of working with artists and institutions to create exceptional outdoor work. Their client list includes The British Council, Magnum Photos, Oxfam, Tom Stoddart and Hiroji Kubota.
41 Places: 41 Stories is a pocket-sized version of 41 Places.
Published as an Unmadeup edition, this paperback book contains all the 41 stories, introduced and afterworded by William Shaw. It was designed by Richard Wolfströme.
It is available directly from us either: In the UK via paypal for £8.99 including postage and packing; Outside the UK, it is £7.99 plus postage, and if you want to pay any other way please contact us. During May, it will available from the Brighton Festival book stalls at literature events and shops all over Brighton including:
Amnesty for Books / Aruna's Newsagent / Borders / Brighton Museum and Pavillon stores / Castor and Pollux / Jubliee Library's Booklover store / Sporting Colours / Waterstones
If you are shop that would like to stock the book please get in touch // An e-sampler of the book in Acrobat format is available here// We now have a podast on iTunes with chapters read by John Telfer of The Archers