First night of four at Bookseller Crow May 21st
“I think it’s the most derogatory thing I can say about somebody or something: God, it’s so f**king Croydon!” David Bowie (ex-Tin Machine)
Join authors Lucy Mangan, Andy Miller and John Grindrod for a celebration of the cultural life of the suburbs.
The borough of Croydon has borne the brunt of decades of mockery from the likes of Bromley’s David Bowie, a tradition that stretches back to the general distaste for the suburbs expressed by intellectuals such as Virginia Woolf, T.S. Eliot and E.M. Forster and in books such as The Diary of a Nobody. In fact, the cultural life of the suburbs is rich and varied, and modern music, art, architecture, film and literature would be radically different without the influence of the people who live there and whose work reflects suburbia’s perennial outsider status.
From Bridget Riley to Sam Taylor-Johnson; from the black composer Samuel Coleridge Taylor to Kirsty MacColl; from Richard Seifert’s iconic No. 1 Croydon tower (aka ‘the 50p building’) to Croydon College of Art, whose alumni include Ray Davies, Malcolm McLaren, Jamie Reid, Mervyn Peake, Noel Fielding and FKA twigs, Croydon has long played its part in the cultural life of Britain. The Fairfield Halls, opened in 1962, has hosted concerts by The Beatles, Kraftwerk, T.Rex, The Who, Tangerine Dream and Pink Floyd; famously, both Captain Sensible and Rat Scabies of the Damned cleaned the toilets of the venue.
John Grindrod, Lucy Mangan and Andy Miller are all authors who have strong links to the suburbs of Bromley and Croydon. They have written extensively about the experience of growing up in the area and its influence on how they see the world. In an evening of readings, conversation and debate, they will talk about their work and the debt that the metropolis owes to suburbia. Urbanistas, lose your preconceptions – and let Lucy, John and Andy take you on a journey to the (Whitgift) centre of the mind.
John Grindrod comes from New Addington. He is the author of Concretopia: A Journey Around the Rebuilding of Postwar Britain, described by the Independent on Sunday as “a new way of looking at modern Britain”. He has written for everything from the Guardian to the 20th Century Society magazine, runs the website dirtymodernscoundrel.com and can be contacted on Twitter @Grindrod.
Lucy Mangan grew up in Catford but struck out for the heady delights of Bromley for her A-levels. Then went back to Catford. She is a features writer and columnist for the Guardian, Stylist, Puffin magazine and others. She has written four books – the latest is Inside Charlie’s Chocolate Factory, a history of the Roald Dahl classic to celebrate its 50th anniversary – but prefers reading. She is currently researching her new book, about the history of children’s literature, which combines the best of both worlds. She would love you to follow her on Twitter @lucymangan because it saves going out.
Andy Miller is a reader, writer and editor of books, a passion born in the municipal libraries of South Croydon. He is the author of the acclaimed The Year of Reading Dangerously: How Fifty Great Books Saved My Life, as well as books about the Kinks and how much he dislikes sport. His work has appeared in the Guardian, Mojo, Esquire and many more. His website is mill-i-am.com and he is on Twitter @i_am_mill_i_am