“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 Bob Stanley, Lucy Mangan, John Grindrod and Andy Miller this summer for a series of events celebrating 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, Andy Miller and Bob Stanley are all authors who have strong links to the suburbs of South London. They have written extensively about the experience of growing up in the area and its influence on how they see the world. This summer they will bring Croydon to fashionable East London, to the foot of a Welsh mountain and to the heart of the town itself, the Fairfield Halls. In evenings 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, Bob, John and Andy take you on a journey to the (Whitgift) centre of the mind.