Learning about learning

How do you feel when you have to learn something new? Do you feel a sense of excitement, or do you encounter an initial sense of negativity that stays with you for a long time?

For many people, especially those of the younger generation, learning a new skill comes with a sense of aspiration and idealism. They see the skill and what it can offer to their lives, not just in terms of the skill and direct benefits itself, but also for the fame and recognition. For example, someone wishing to take up singing has ideas of being able to make it big as a singer-songwriter, and being the object of attention of millions in a big arena.

The unfortunate thing with learning a skill – if you can call it unfortunate at all – is that it takes time to do well. Skills take time to be familiar with, to acquire, and to refine, so that every action benefits. A lot of people go for the product and not the process, because they want to end-gain, to get to the final product immediately, because they are hungry for the success. This means they short-cut their way to the end, without any idea of how they’ve achieved it.

You see this in young children. When they are asked to do a piece of writing, for example, and are not willing to do it, they fill a piece of paper with words – perhaps written not very nicely, as a form of protest – and will insist they have completed it, when the paper is full of words, without any form of whether what they have written is of substance and neat. They have gone for the product, in order to complete it, rather than think of the process.

Perhaps it is a good idea to learn little craft skills to subconsciously learn the life skills of patience and practice. Rather than discover – when the stakes are too high – that one has chosen to do something ambitious without having the will or aptitude for it, it may be prudent to do little artistic skills, slightly less ambitious tasks in order to develop the patience and willingness to graft, and develop a mental framework of what it takes to learn a skill. If you’re ever on the Brighton seafront, you will find a myriad of ideas just looking at the craft shops around you. Try candle-making, or perhaps making your own shampoo. Try learning to play the guitar with a few chords. Try knitting, or join a weekend cookery class. There are many things you can try. Not only will you make many friends and meet like-minded people, at the same time you will learn about learning – it is a skill that will benefit you for life!

The benefits of homemade shampoos

Brighton bristles with crafts and hand made items. You can find things such as beeswax candles and homemade soaps that are good for your skin. If you are feeling crafty, why not consider making your own shampoos?

There are hundreds of shampoos on the market and each one of them promises to leave your hair shinier, softer and more beautiful than the rest. Realistically though, these shampoos rarely live up to their lofty promises, and in fact, for a number of reasons that we’ll go into, by far the best option is to simply make your own natural shampoos at home. While the vast majority of us grow up believing that using store-bought shampoos is the only option, it’s never too late to understand that there is actually a better alternative. After thoroughly investigating store-bought shampoos, I highly recommend you give making your own toxin-free, natural homemade shampoos a try, as these products are far better for your hair, your health, and the environment.

You’re probably wondering why you should spend the extra time and energy to make your own shampoos when you can easily grab a bottle off the shelf in your local supermarket? Well, here’s a rundown of facts that will help you understand why homemade shampoos are most definitely better than the store-bought variety!

1. Natural homemade shampoos take fantastic care of your hair.

Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t necessary to wash our hair with chemical shampoo every day. The reason for this is that over-shampooing strips the hair of it’s natural oils, and due to their harshness, this is particularly true of store-bought shampoos. However, when you begin using homemade shampoos you’ll notice that your hair will look healthier and that the right amount of protective natural oils will remain intact.

2. You can make natural homemade shampoos in small amounts and keep them in non-polluting, reusable containers until you need them.

Most shampoos can be stored in the fridge for at least a few days, and up to a couple of weeks, saving you from having to regularly make new batches. Although a regular shampoo container can be used to store your homemade shampoos, the best way of storing them is in glass containers. The reason for this is that glass is inert meaning no chemicals can leach out into your shampoos. As these containers are reusable and made of non-toxic material you’ll also have the peace of mind that you’re not just doing what’s right for your hair, but also what’s right for the environment!

3. Store-bought shampoos are often full of potentially cancer-causing chemicals.

As we are all well aware, cancer is a truly awful disease! Therefore it’s important that we do whatever we can in order to reduce the risk of ever suffering from this terrible condition. Cocamide DEA, a chemical found in nearly a hundred types of store-bought shampoos in the USA, has a proven link to the formation of cancerous cells in humans. Most shampoos also contain vast amounts of sulfates and parabens that may poison the scalp and the kidneys, and could also play a part in the onset of allergies. When you’re using store-bought shampoos, you’re exposing yourself to a vast array of chemical nasties, and in so doing you’re putting yourself at risk of potentially damaging your body’s tissues and organs.

Other chemicals to beware of include:
•Formaldehyde. Yes, that’s the same formaldehyde used for embalming the dead! While it may be OK for the dead, it’s certainly not something we want to be introducing into our bodies while we’re still alive! Formaldehyde can play a part in cancer formation and can reportedly cause our body’s organs to stiffen. This in turn may contribute to the onset of organ damage.

•Sodium Lauryl Sulphate. This chemical slowly damages the hair by breaking down it’s natural protein structure. An additional downside is that it can in some cases lead to lung or eye irritation.

•Polyoxyethylene, Sodium Chloride, and other Thickening Agents. These chemical agents are used to help shampoo lather easily. However, they can actually cause your scalp to become dry and itchy as they remove the natural oils which work to keep the hair and scalp healthy.

•Synthetic Colors. These chemicals can cause irritation of the scalp and skin.

•Siloxane, Dimethicone, Silicone and other Hair Sealants. These ingredients are reported to make the hair shiny, but due to their harsh chemical nature they can actually prevent the scalp from being able to coat hair with it’s natural oils. This in turn can lead to dry, frizzy and hard-to-manage hair.

•Mineral Oil, Petroleum, and Lanolin. While these products claim to moisturize your hair, they actually have no proven benefits. Like most chemicals in commercially available shampoos, they can strip away the natural oils and moisture from the hair and in extreme cases may even cause the hair to thin or, at worst, fall out!

•Propylene Glycol or Anti-Freeze Agents. You may be wondering “Why on earth would there be anti-freeze in my shampoo!?” Well, quite simply it’s used in order to stop the shampoo from freezing while in transport. This is the same anti-freeze that you might use in your car and, needless to say, it`s NOT something that you want to be rubbing into your scalp! Anti-freezing agents may cause allergic reactions as well as skin irritation.

•Alcohol. The relatively high amounts of alcohol found in some of the shampoos available on store shelves may dry the hair and make it heavy and brittle. As you can see, there are a wide range of potentially harmful ingredients in some store-bought shampoos. If we really care about the health of our hair and our bodies, perhaps we should think twice about using them and give alternative options a chance.

4. Natural homemade shampoos are packed full of natural goodness.
A lot of people are going organic these days when it comes to their diets. While it’s important to be concerned about what we eat and drink, it’s also important to think about what we are applying to other parts of our bodies. When we use natural products on our hair, we don’t only look good, we can also be sure that we’ll feel good, too.

Some of the wonderful ingredients that we can use in our natural homemade shampoos include:

•Apricot. A natural nourishing agent that’s not only good for soothing the skin, it’s actually great for the hair too.

•Avocado. Avocado contains lots of great natural fats and proteins that can play a big part in helping to keep our hair looking healthy and lustrous.

•Chamomile. Chamomile is not only soothing, it also smells great and revitalizes the hair!

•Honey. Honey acts as a natural hair softener and gives the hair a beautiful shine.

•Coconut Milk. Coconut milk has been used by people for centuries to help keep their hair looking and feeling soft and smooth.

•Fenugreek. A very powerful Indian herb which has anti-fungal and revitalizing properties. This ingredient could be a little difficult to find, but if you decide to take the time to source it you can be sure that it will definitely be worth the effort!

•Rosemary. Because of it’s great smell and its calming properties, rosemary can help to relax us. For this reason it’s used in numerous recipes within this book. Luckily, it’s super easy to find in almost any supermarket and it combines well with almost any of the other ingredients.

•Peppermint. Peppermint can leave your hair and scalp feeling fresh and cool. It’s also said that peppermint can play a part in helping hair grow faster.

•Mint. Has similar revitalizing and cooling effects to peppermint.

•Strawberry. Strawberries contain natural compounds that are extremely nourishing for both the hair and scalp, so adding a few strawberries to your homemade shampoo a sure way to create a shampoo which will leave your hair lustrous and healthy!

•Tea Tree Oil. This amazing, natural antibiotic is a marvel of nature! It leaves the hair with a silky shine and can even act as a natural insect repellent, driving away bugs such as mosquitoes! A truly brilliant ingredient for your homemade shampoos and for your bathroom cabinet if you ever have cuts or blemishes!

•Arrowroot. The hair needs protein to grow and Arrowroot will help provide this protein via the scalp. Also said to strengthen the hair.

•Shikakai. This Indian ingredient is sure to bring your crowning glory back to life due to it’s invigorating qualities.

Making your own shampoo is a good skill to learn when you are younger. Take a look inside one of the craft shops in Brighton, or sign up for a course and you will find that it will be more than worth it!

Brighton’s link with Beethoven: George Bridgetower

Of West Indian and German parentage (his father Frederick was an ex-slave from Barbados), but born in Poland, this violinist, dubbed ‘The Abyssinian Prince’, was a child prodigy. After coming to the attention of the Prince Regent in 1791, he lived in England for most of his life. Under the patronage of the Prince, who paid Bridgetower’s father £25 to become his guardian, he studied under François-Hippolyte Barthélémon, leader of the Royal Opera; Croatian-Italian composer Giovanni Giornovichi, Thomas Attwood, organist at St Paul’s and professor at the Royal Academy of Music and, most significantly, Haydn.

In December 1789, he performed at a concert in Bath, in the presence of King George III and guests; the Bath Morning Post reported ‘There were upwards of 550 persons present, and they were gratified by such skills on the violin as created general astonishment, as well as pleasure from the boy wonder. The father was in the gallery, and so affected by the applause bestowed on his son, that tears of pleasure and gratitude flowed in profusion’.

For 14 years, Bridgetower was employed by the Prince as first violinist with his personal orchestra at his homes in Brighton and London; he also performed regularly with the Royal Philharmonic Society orchestra. In 1803, while on a tour of Germany and Austria, he performed in Vienna with Beethoven, who subsequently dedicated his Violin Sonata No. 9 in A major (Op.47) to Bridgetower — ‘Sonata per uno mulaticco lunattico’. Beethoven described Bridgetower as ‘a very able virtuoso and an absolute master of the instrument’. However, the pair fell out over a perceived slight made by Bridgetower to a woman friend of Beethoven’s, and he changed the dedication of this work to violinist Rudolphe Kreutzer. A letter from Beethoven to Bridgetower and a miniature of Bridgetower fetched over £2,000 at a Christie’s auction in 1973.

He was elected to the Royal Society of Musicians in 1807, and became a Bachelor of Music at Cambridge University in 1811. Bridgewater died in Peckham and is buried in Kensal Green cemetery. In 2009, the Pulitzer-prize winning poet Rita Dove dramatised the relationship between Beethoven and Bridgetower in her Sonata Mulattica. In the same year, Bridgetower – A Fable of 1807, a new jazz opera about him, starring Cleveland Watkiss, and composed by Julian Joseph, was produced at the Hackney Empire Theatre, to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act.

Sarah Forbes Bonetta

In 1850, anti-slavery advocate Captain Frederick Forbes of the HMS Bonetta, visited King Gezo of Dahomia, West Africa. During his visit, Forbes saw that a young girl, aged about eight years old, was to be ritually murdered in a ceremony called ‘the watering of the graves’. Forbes ascertained that the girl was a princess from a neighbouring tribe and that her parents had been massacred in a Dahomian attack at Egbado, during the Okeadon war. He later wrote, ‘It is usual to reserve the best born for the high behest of royalty and the immolation on the tombs of the diseased nobility. For one of these ends she has been detained at court for two years, proving, by her not having been sold to slave dealers, that she was of good family’.

At Forbes’ behest, King Gezo agreed to give the girl to Queen Victoria, as a ‘gift’: he explained that ‘She would be a present from the King of the blacks to the Queen of the Whites’. For a year, Sarah (sometimes ‘Sara’) Forbes Bonetta — as she was subsequently christened — lived with Forbes and his wife; she was presented to the Royal Family in November 1850 and her education and upkeep were paid for by Queen Victoria.

Both the monarch and her foster father were impressed with their young charge, of whom Forbes wrote, ‘She is a perfect genius; she now speaks English well, and has a great talent for music. She has won the affections, but with few exceptions, of all who have known her. She is far in advance of any white child of her age, in aptness of learning, and strength of mind and affection’.

In 1851, Sarah returned to Sierra Leone, but returned to England in 1855 and lived with the Rev. James Schoen and his family in Gillingham. She was invited to the royal wedding of Princess Victoria and Prince Frederick William of Prussia (the future Kaiser and father of Kaiser Wilhelm II) in January 1858.

During her stay in Sierra Leone, she had come to the attention of James Pinson Labulo Davies, a widowed former slave who, after being educated in Sierra Leone and coming under the patronage of the Royal Navy, became a prosperous merchant in Lagos. After his first wife’s death, he wrote to Sarah, proposing marriage; he was then living at 9 Victoria Rd.

After a series of discussions between the Palace and Mrs Schoen, it was decided in spring 1862 that Sarah should accept the proposal and, in preparation for her marriage, be sent to live with a Mr and Mrs Welsh in Brighton. Sarah was unhappy to leave her adoptive family and friends in Kent; she knew no-one in Brighton and felt increasingly isolated. She described, the Welsh’s home, 17 Clifton Hill, as a ‘desolate little pigsty’.

On August 16 1862, she and Davies were married at St Nicholas’s Church. According to the Brighton Gazette, the guests included ‘white ladies with African gentlemen, and African ladies with white gentlemen until all the space was filled. The bridesmaids [Davies’s sisters] were 16 in number’. Captain Forbes’s brother gave her away and the service was conducted by the Lord Bishop of Sierra Leone.

The party had a wedding breakfast at West Hill Lodge, Montpelier Rd, before the bride and groom left for London, en route to Sierra Leone. They had three children; the eldest child, Victoria, became the Queen’s goddaughter, of whom she was particularly fond. When she passed her music examination, the teachers and children were granted a day’s holiday and often visited the Queen at Windsor Castle.

It was during one of these visits, in August 1880, that news came from abroad: the Queen wrote ‘Saw poor Victoria Davis, my black godchild, who learnt this morning of the death of her dear mother. The poor child was dreadfully upset & distressed…her father has failed in business, which aggravated her poor mother’s illness’. Sarah had died at the age of 37 in Madeira 1880, of tuberculosis. She had asked to be buried at sea, like her rescuer Captain Forbes; instead, she was buried in Funchal, Madeira.

Bear Road Neighbourhood and the Bedford Hotel

Bear Rd has an average gradient of 1:11 and a maximum of 1:8, and formed part of the boundary between Brighton and Preston until 1928. It took its name from the Bear Inn, a centre for bear and badger-baiting in the late 18th century; bear-baiting was legal until 1835.

On Bear Hill to the north of Bear Rd once stood the Bear Mill and, at the top of Bear Rd, stood the Race Hill Mill. The area to the north of Bear Rd, sometimes known as East Preston as it formed the easternmost part of that parish, was developed from the early 1900s and many of the road names have Boer War connections — e.g. Ladysmith and Mafeking roads. Most of the housing — 58% — is terraced and a high proportion of it (26%) is rented out as student accommodation — to the chagrin of owner-occupiers, who regularly complain about a variety of nuisances caused by this, including rubbish in the street and noise.

The parish church of the area, St Alban’s in Coombe Rd, was built in 1910-14 by Lacy W Ridge, in Early English style; on May 15 1974, the parish was merged into the new parish of the Resurrection. The parish room at the corner of Bear Rd and Riley Rd was built in 1902-3.

The lower part of Coombe Rd was dominated by two large factories on either side of the road. The southern one (Tyreco Ltd) was erected in 1917 for National Diamond Factories (Bernard Oppenheimer) Ltd, and ex-WWI servicemen who had lost limbs were employed there. The building was eventually occupied by Allen West and Schweppes in 1927 and, in 1945, by CVA Tools; this company was taken over by Kearney & Trecker in 1966 and the Coombe Rd factory closed in 1973.

In October 2000, the building was converted into deco flats; prices then were £87,500 for a 1- bedroom flat, £164,950 for 2-bedroom; in late 2009, a 1-bed flat cost £146,000. The impressive building opposite, now the Big Yellow Storage Company, was erected in 1918 as another diamond factory, and then became the home of Dentsply, one of Europe’s largest false teeth manufacturers, which closed in 1991.

Other businesses in the area included artificial limb makers Pedestros Ltd at 18 Coombe Rd Ltd and, at no.16, Brighton Asbestos Manufacturing Co Ltd. Nowadays, the Bear Rd area is dominated its cemeteries and crematoria, including the historic Extra-Mural Cemetery. Bevendean Hospital in Bevendean Rd closed in April 1989; it was demolished and the Sussex Beacon was erected, along with some housing.

The Bedford Hotel, 137 King’s Rd, was designed by Thomas Cooper and opened in 1835. It was considered the most distinguished late-Georgian building in Brighton after the Royal Pavilion. It had five storeys with two recessed Ionic porticoes facing south and west above the entrances, while the west wing was built back from the road and was decorated with giant pilasters. Inside was a Grecian hall with Ionic columns and a glazed dome.

The original Bedford Hotel was opened in October 1829 for William Manfield who, in 1835, leased it to the designer, Thomas Cooper; Manfield bought the lease back the following year and ran the hotel himself until 1844, when he leased it to Joseph Ellis.

In 1855, Ellis purchased the Bedford outright, and established it as the town’s leading hotel for the accommodation of royalty, the fashionable and the famous. Its guests included French Emperor Louis-Philippe, Louis Napoleon, Jenny Lind and Lord Palmerston. In 1963, the hotel was bought by AVP Industries Ltd, who said they wanted to replace it with a modern 14-storey tower block. On April 1 1964 — just two months after Brighton Council refused to make a preservation order on the hotel — the building was partly destroyed by fire. Two people lost their lives: guest Mrs Elizabeth Reed and hotel worker, Mrs Montserrat Gorriz. The hotel’s manager, John Ratcliffe, had the presence of mind to rescue a display for letters, written by Charles Dickens during his visits to the hotel, from a display cabinet on the ground floor.

A replacement Bedford Hotel — rather different in character to its predecessor — opened on September 16 1967. Designed by R Seifert and Partners, the 17-storey, 168 feet tall building was the first major new hotel development in the town for over half a century. It became the Hilton West Pier and Bedford Towers, and is now the Holiday Inn.

BHASVIC – the Brighton Hove and Sussex Sixth Form College

This originated as the Brighton Proprietary Grammar and Commercial School, founded in July 1859 at Lancaster House, 47 Grand Parade. Pupils were nominated and elected to the proprietary school by shareholders, to be transferred later to the higher school on approval. There, they were instructed in the classics, arithmetic, bookkeeping, accounting, etc, and also received a non-sectarian religious education. Non-proprietary pupils paid an entrance fee of one guinea and a quarterly fee of £2 10 shillings. On May 27 1868, the 180 pupils of the Brighton Grammar School marched in procession to a new, plain, three-storey school building in Buckingham Rd. The headmaster from 1861 until 1899 was EJ Marshall, to whom a plaque has been erected on the adjacent 79 Buckingham Rd. Due to the increasing number of pupils, the Grammar School moved for a second time in September 1913 to a site off Dyke Rd; the Buckingham Rd building at the corner of Upper Gloucester Rd then became the Sussex Maternity Hospital. The new school, designed by SB Russell, was known as the Brighton, Hove and Sussex Grammar School; the playing fields occupy 15 acres. The murals in the school hall were painted by Louis Ginnett, master at Brighton School of Art, between 1913 and 1939, on the theme ‘The History of Man in Sussex’: they were ‘Prehistoric man in Sussex’, ‘The Roman prefect builds at Bignor’, ‘The siege of Pevensey’, ‘After the battle of Hastings’, ‘Rye after the Armada’, ‘The old boys’ war memorial’, ‘Sussex ironworking’, ‘The pavilion, George IV receives a loyal address’ and ‘Hollingbury camp, full circle’. The first three panels were unveiled in October 1913 and another two were unveiled in August 1914, when the school was requisitioned for use as a military hospital. The hall bears the names of those who died during this time, and Ginnett’s fifth panels were dedicated to ex-pupils lost in WWI. Ginnett also designed — with one of his ex-pupils, the painter Charles Knight — the school hall’s stained glass windows. The school continued after the Great War as a grammar school until 1975 when, after a reorganisation of secondary eduction in Brighton, it became a sixth-form college, known as ‘BHASVIC’.

About 60% of its students come from Brighton and Hove, but many come from other state and independent schools throughout Sussex. There are approximately 1740 students, of whom approximately 90% follow GCE or AVCE Advanced courses. The majority of students are in the 16-19 age range, and following full-time courses. About 70% of its advanced level students go on to a degree course at university or a specialist course at a college of further education. The College was last inspected by Ofsted during the Autumn Term 2007. Following the publication of the Ofsted Report, BHASVIC was awarded Beacon Status in July 2008.

A new Sports Centre was opened in April 2003, and planning permission was granted for further development during 2008-2009. Disabled access ramps and steps were built in 2005 by Nick Evans Architects. Well-known former pupils of the Grammar School include the artist Aubrey Beardsley, writer and broadcaster Tony Hawks, composer Howard Blake OBE (best known for The Snowman) and barrister and former Conservative MP Sir Ivan Lawrence. The school celebrated 150 years of its history with a lunch for more than 140 Old Boys and guests, in the school hall on July 4 2009.