I attended Brighton Girls from 4-18 (1981-1994). I met my best friends Liz and Rach there, aged four. 1980’s and 90’s Brighton was a cool place to grow up with a lot going on. School was good – academic but never hot-house – and creative. We were taught to believe we had a voice. People said you could spot a Brighton Girl from the way she walked down the street because of her self-confidence (I’ve moved back recently and sent my daughter there).
CRAZY FOR YOU by Madonna (1985)
I wasn’t very cool (we listened to Chas n’ Dave in the car) and aged 9 a friend publicly dared me to recite the lyrics to Crazy for You. I couldn’t, obviously. Aged 10, I played Anne of Green Gables at a local drama group and the pianist teaching me solos told me she knew every Madonna song off by heart. She said, ‘Madonna is everything.’ She was older and cooler than me. I nodded and agreed.
ESPECIALLY FOR YOU by Jason Donovan and Kylie Minogue (1989) or the Neighbours theme tune
When we got home from school it was a religion. 5.10pm you sat down for Home and Away followed immediately by Neighbours at 5.35pm. My oldest friend, Marie, whose house I’d go back to after school, said, ‘I couldn’t LIVE without Neighbours.’ She was older and cooler than me and I nodded and agreed. Even my mum loved Neighbours to wind down to after work. It was the only time we weren’t allowed to speak to her.
“People said you could spot a Brighton Girl from the way she walked down the street because of her self-confidence (I’ve moved back recently and sent my daughter there).”
IT MUST HAVE BEEN LOVE by Roxette (Released 1987 but a major hit in 1990 following the release of the movie, Pretty Woman)
This was the first single I ever bought. Pretty Woman was massive that summer and we all fell in love with Julia Roberts and learnt every word of the movie. My best friend Rach looked like her. I always seemed to be the youngest in any group I was in and on holiday that summer I was the youngest in that group. I remember yelling, “Almost 14” every time someone asked my age, willing myself older.
UNBELIEVABLE by EMF (1991)
Me, Liz and Rach used to hang out on Sunday nights at the King Alfred Rollerdisco. Only Rach could really rollerblade but we hung our Bauer blades over our shoulders and hung around trying to look cool. They played this song every week and we made shapes with our hands to it (oh dear).
“By the Sixth Form, you’d either been a BROSette with beer bottle tops on your shoes or you were into Take That or you liked New Kids on the Block.”
RELIGHT MY FIRE by Take That (1993)
By the Sixth Form, you’d either been a BROSette with beer bottle tops on your shoes or you were into Take That or you liked New Kids on the Block. For some reason I didn’t feel that strongly about any of them (I blame Chas n’ Dave) but I remember walking into some heated debates in the Sixth Form common room about who was the best-looking member of Take That.
I WILL SURVIVE by Gloria Gaynor (1978)
Brighton was brilliant to go out in, in your late teens – the Fortune of War bar on the seafront is still going strong. We’d buy ‘hooch’ and sit out on the beach till late. Play pool in The Smugglers pub on Ship Street and go on to Jazz Rooms or Horatio’s nightclub – now Hotel du Vin. The night always ended with this song – we’d belt our hearts out in what is now a respectable hotel courtyard.
TAKE ON ME by A-ha (1985) and I SAW THE SIGN by Ace of Base (1993)
I have strong associations with these two songs but I can’t remember any stories except for a Morten Harket poster I can clearly visualise on my friend Sarah’s wall and the fact that they both induce extreme happiness in me whenever I hear them. My school days were very happy ones.
Beth Cordingly is a TV, stage and film actor. She has played lead roles at the Royal Shakespeare Company, the West End and nationally. Beth is from Brighton but her most successful roles have often been playing Essex girls: Veronica in Charlie Brooker’s Netflix series Deadset and Mistress Ford in the RSC’s TOWIE version of The Merry Wives of Windsor. She is in the Paramount Plus series The Burning Girls out later this year, with Samantha Morton.
GDST Life Alumnae Magazine 2023/24
Our interview with Beth Cordingly was part of our 2023/24 edition of GDST Life alumnae magazine which also includes a whole host of features and articles including stories, tips and viewpoints from a range of alumnae contributors, GDST and school news, our latest alumnae book listings and and how you can keep in touch.