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(Photo a slightly modified version of this original by Matt Davis aka Hassocks5489 that he was kind enough to put into the Public Domian)

I was listening to a radio dramatization of Robert Rankin's The Brightonomicom last week and one episode, The Monstrous Mystery of the Moulsecoomb Crab, caught my special attention.

For, as the title suggests, it was set in Moulsecoomb and many years ago (1977-1978 to be precise), I lived there. I was a student at the University of Sussex at that, my second year, and myself and a small group of friends had taken a house in Moulsecoomb as a place to stay.

It was a miserable location. A characterless housing estate that seemed to radiate an aura of implacable stasis. Nothing about it encouraged any desire to stay there and the house became simply a place to sleep and spend as much of the day and night away from as possible. The fact that four of us were squeezed into a very small dwelling – I shared a tiny room with a friend called Paul – did nothing to mitigate the experience. One very good thing came out of it. I became so used to living in a tiny area that even modest sized houses seem vast to me these days and I have never become caught up in the desire to live in those barn-sized homes that have grown to cover up perfectly good crop fields on the outskirts of many American cities.

About this time too, I was slipping into an episode of major depression that had little to do with Moulsecoomb and a lot to do with my brain chemistry (as I now realise) but, in contrast to other places at the time, Moulsecoomb was so stunningly nondescript that it failed to assume that aura of stomach-churning antipathy that attached itself to many other better loved places in England. A set of revulsions that it took many years to overcome. Consequently, Mouslecoomb slipped out of my consciousness almost entirely and when rediscovered, through The Brightonomicon, is entirely free of any direct negative associations and even one positive one, a very drunken and enjoyable party where I took this photograph of a friend of a friend. Ramani was her name – I had a big crush on her that never went anywhere. 🙂

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