TRAVEL: THE PLACE THAT CHANGED ME - PETER POLYCARPOU

He still finds himself drawn to Brighton, where he spent the first six years of his life in a children's home

A very important place for me, and also for my sister, is Brighton. Specifically a place in Brighton called St Angela's. That was the children's home, originally a convent, where my sister and I spent the early years of our lives and where we forged our very close bond. She was the only family I had at that point. The home was for children of parents who were too poor to look after them. Though we didn't know that at the time. I would say that my time in Brighton helped me to gain my strong sense of myself and my independence.

I was born in Brighton but my first memories are of the home and I didn't see my parents for a long time. In fact I didn't really know them until much later in life. Apparently they came to visit us. I have snapshots of me on a donkey riding along Brighton beach, and also riding one of those motorised elephants, the children's rides on the pier that you have to put a penny in to make them move. My father is alongside me in the photos so he must have come for visits. But my first memories of them are when my sister and I were about six years old. We were picked up by my parents who told us ,"We've come to take you home". And all I could say was, "Who are you?" I really did not know who they were.

We still have a lot of family in Brighton. There is a big Greek Cypriot community there - they own all the steak houses. Preston Road is practically one long row of steak houses. But most of my memories of Brighton are of being taken, crocodile fashion, to the Saturday morning picture show. And of the sea. It was always in view from the upper floors of the home. And rather like that policeman in Under Milk Wood, I always had to go back and check that it was still there.

There is something very special about being on the beach and looking out to sea. At the risk of sounding pretentious, it is where I now like to go to meditate. Water has a wonderful effect on me. Brighton is the place I come to settle my mind. I know that it is where I can relax. And I have an incredible sense that everything has come full circle. St Angela's has now turned into a Buddhist centre and Buddhism is something that is very important in my life.

I guess I will always associate Brighton with my emotional learning. A few years back my sister helped on a documentary on Channel 4 about middle- age crises in men. It ended up with my sister and my father going back to visit Brighton. The first I saw of the programme was when it was broadcast. The visit had such a profound effect on my father and seeing him being very emotional, and on television, was very moving for me. I had seen him cry before - we Greeks are naturally emotional people - but it was still strange.

The atmosphere in Brighton is very special. It is unlike other coastal towns I know, and I have played in quite a few (including Brighton Theatre, too). I would say of all the places that I have been worldwide, Brighton is the place that has the most pull for me. I love living in London but Brighton is a place that I keep going back to. It has such a very special community feeling and I love the fact that there are all sorts of disparate groups living side by side - so many ethnic groups, a big gay community, lots of artists and actors. You always meet the best people travelling down from London on the train!

Peter Polycarpou (aka Chris Theodopoulopoulos, Pauline Quirk's husband in BBC1's `Birds of a Feather') will play Bologna in the new musical `Dick Whittington' at Sadlers Wells (tel: 0171-863 8000), 16 December-29 January.

Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister
TVSPOILER ALERT: It's all coming together as series returns to form
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
art
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Guru Careers: Events Coordinator / Junior Events Planner

    £24K + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an Events Coordinator ...

    Royal Yachting Association Cymru Wales: Chief Executive Officer

    Salary 42,000: Royal Yachting Association Cymru Wales: The CEO is responsible ...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Manager / Marketing Communications Manager

    £35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...

    Ashdown Group: Technical IT Manager - North London - Growing business

    £40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A growing business that has been ope...

    Day In a Page

    Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

    Abuse - and the hell that follows

    James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
    Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

    It's oh so quiet!

    The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
    'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

    'Timeless fashion'

    It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
    If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

    Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

    Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
    New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

    Evolution of swimwear

    From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine