Town and country

This week I read 

by Nick Papadimitriou. I was expecting something like Richard Mabey’s 
or
by Michael Symmons Roberts and Paul Farley, or perhaps Iain Sinclair’s
. Scarp is set in my part of the world, the northern and western fringes of London. And I love these books about the way the countryside invades the city – the buddleias in railway sidings, the rampant ivy over a tumbledown garage, the supposedly rare but actually common as muck newts on every building site, the red kites hovering over the A40 and so on.

Also, we can’t be reminded often enough that the UK is a mainly rural country; as Kate Barker’s reports set out (see the 2006 Interim Report on Land Use Planning), only 8.3% of the land in England is urban, less still in the other three nations.

[amazon_image id=”1444723391″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Scarp[/amazon_image]

I enjoyed Scarp but it’s stranger and ultimately more moving than the other books listed above. It’s also a memoir, in effect, of an unloving, lonely and poor London childhood. I don’t know if it’s strictly autobiographical, but it strikes me as an authentic account of the experience of all too many children. Beautifully written, almost magical realist in some passages, odd, revealing.

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