Archives for posts with tag: Suburbia

– The Tinderbox, 2014 –

William Burroughs: Some people like neat suburbs. I always am attracted to the rundown and the old and the offbeat.

Quentin Crisp: In an expanding universe, time is on the side of the outcast. Those who once inhabited the suburbs of human contempt find that without changing their address they eventually live in the metropolis.

Siouxsie Sioux: The suburbs inspired intense hatred. I think the lure of London was always there. I remember my sister taking me to Biba on Kensington High Street; I bought a coat and used to gravitate towards going there on my own later. But the suburbs were also a yardstick for measuring how much we didn’t fit in…I would definitely say that our early material, for at least the first two albums, was suburbia – where I grew up, and the circumstances.

It was an interesting kind of boredom. The days seemed to stretch out in an attempt to touch forever. One evening the local 7-11 was held up at gunpoint – the robbers were “from London”. Another time, some cows escaped from a nearby field and roamed the estate haphazardly mowing the suburban lawns. I lived in Kings Worthy for nine years and these are the two events outside of my own adventures that I can remember. It wasn’t so much that nothing happened there, more that what did happen never seemed newsworthy (it wasn’t until a long time after I left that Britain’s Biggest Love-Rat was revealed to be living there by The Sun “newspaper”- who knew?). If you were sensitive, intelligent, creative, fashionable, stylish or any combination of those things chances were you weren’t going to fit in very well. And you were probably either too young or had too little money to get out. So you worked hard at something that would buy you a one-way ticket to London.

During the Seventies and Eighties, there must have been tens of thousands of people joining this exodus from suburbs all over the country. Every one of them Hell-bent on recreating the city in their image – desperate to realise their fantasy of what an ideal London should be. And the city took them in.

In 2014, Chislehurst, where Siouxsie Sioux grew up is no longer a suburb, but has been absorbed into Greater London. And it’s widely acknowledged by the media that London has become more suburban in character. I think all us escapees brought the contagion with us – you can’t create the flipside of suburbia without carrying the values of suburbia inside you and one day they are going to want to get out.


The Tinderbox is the seventh track on the Cocteau Twins’ second album, Head Over Heels (1983). You can listen to it here. The whole album is ethereal and beautiful with just the right touch of bright steel to lift it from being an easy listen. Tinderbox (1986) is also an album by Siouxsie and the Banshees. You can watch them performing Land’s End on the Old Grey Whistle Test here.


Our relations with cities are like our relations with people. We love them, hate them, or are indifferent toward them. On our first day in a city that is new to us, we go looking for the city. We go down this street, around that corner. We are aware of the faces of passers-by. But the city eludes us, and we become uncertain whether we are looking for a city, or for a person.

(Extract from Some Cities (1996) by Victor Burgin)

I Wonder U, 2012

Elephants & Flowers, 2012

These were taken on the outskirts of Beckenham, Kent, UK. It sounds a long way out of town, but you can walk to London in ten minutes.

It’s Prince week here at The Future Is Papier Mâché. If you’re wondering why every post and photograph goes by the name of a Prince song, the answer can be found in my last but one post. But in short, this week’s posts are under the influence of this article. I would also like to point you in the direction of Obsolescence Project, where more questions (and jokes) about titles are being presented.

Untitled digital photograph, 2012

Untitled digital photograph, 2012

Untitled digital photograph, 2012

Untitled digital photograph, 2012

Untitled digital photograph, 2012

Air (for Nikki Light), 2012

1979’s Fear of Music was Talking Heads’ third LP, and their second with Brian Eno as co-producer. It came wrapped in a black cover with an embossed pattern reminiscent of checker plate metal flooring, designed by the band’s Jerry Harrison. There are a number of tracks with one word titles: Mind, Paper, Cities, Air, Heaven, Animals and Drugs.

When I got round to buying it in 1985, (having been entranced by a documentary on the band, which pre-dated Stop Making Sense, and featured footage of the band in rehearsal and live, interspersed with clips of TV evangelists, disasters, planes landing etc), it seemed like the most intelligent, dark, minimal, conceptual, artistically relevant LP I’d ever heard. Something about its urgent urbanity  tripped switches in my brain. I was living with my parents in Kings Worthy, a suburb of Winchester, and desperate to get out and do something real. The message I took from the album was that city dwelling was rich and strange and full of mystery. It was one of a few factors in making me decide to come and live in London, for which I am very grateful David Byrne et al. Now, I’m going to give the CD a spin.

If you want to know more about the LP, there’s a very good Wikipedia entry here.


RIP Maurice Sendak

Untitled digital photograph, 2012

Untitled photomontage, 2012

Untitled digital photograph, 2012

Untitled digital photograph, 2012

Untitled digital photograph, 2012

“There are no demons behind this – just men, Rufus. We’re creating Hell on Earth.”

Untitled photographic print 1988, rephotographed and treated 2011

Untitled digital photograph, 2009

Nowhere Fast is the sixth track on The Smiths’ 1985 album, Meat Is Murder. You can read more about it here.

Untitled photographs (1987) rephotographed and treated 2011.

Everybody’s Talkin’ is the first track on the Midnight Cowboy soundtrack album. It was written by Fred Neil and sung by Harry Nilsson. You can read more about it here.

Untitled digital photographs (2009) 

Amateur Hour is the second track on Sparks’ 1974 album, Kimono My House. You can read more about it here.

Tessa was about to make her third mistake of the day. A big, steaming, multi-headed mistake, bristling in anoraks and coats, between the condensation on the peeling door and the fake-wood counter.

About two feet from the spot where they should have been greeted, the family was waiting for a signal to release them from the confines of the cool, cream corridor into the warmth of the restaurant. The man had checked his watch several times and taken care to make just enough eye contact with Tessa to elicit a response.  But Tessa could not and would not respond, no matter how much he stared at her.

It had been seven minutes since the family had crossed the threshold and collectively inhaled the sweet traceries of Louis’s Sunday roast.

Tessa’s attention traveled a precise and involved route around the intricacies of lace-work on her apron. After a third trip round, the uniform stubbornly refused to offer anything that could realistically be considered to be of interest – and she realised she would have to look up. If she could just make it through the next few minutes, Sarah, the senior waitress, would be back from table 3. She would greet them properly. Tessa lacked confidence.

The man coughed.  Eight minutes.  Tessa could almost feel his impatience growing under those thick, black fatherly eyebrows. Her face felt hot and dirty. She looked at her watch, willing the time on, watching the second hand crawl around its circuit. Sarah had told her to wait, but the man was looking at her. She was the waitress. She was there in black and white and it didn’t make sense for her to ignore them. The boy would get restless soon. Tessa’s hand searched blindly for the pad that hung at her side and stopped its gentle swinging. She could go over to them and confess that she did not know what she was doing, but she had already lost two customers that morning by doing that. She tried a smile.

Download a pdf of the whole sorry tale here

Minestrone was originally published in Fash N Riot (2001), edited by Flora McLean and Anne Hardy.

Untitled photograph 1988, rephotographed, treated and montaged 2011

Underpass is the name of the third track on John Foxx’s 1980 album, Metamatic. You can read more about it here.