Scarp by Nick Papadimitriou (Sceptre £20)

This is one of the wackier books I’ve seen published by a corporate press in recent years. It is a mix of memoir, north of London local history and drug-fucked fantasy. It comes across as the written equivalent of a Godfrey Ho movie where various elements are cut together with a total disregard for narrative and logical sense. Does the Godfrey Ho school of exploitation film-making work on the written page? Well if you wanna know the answer you could do worse than check out Scarp.
My favourite line: “And the entire suburb is a groove sensation, a humming colony lit deep in ancient woodland.” That’s about Moor Park, which is just a bit south of Watford! Elsewhere Papadimitriou attempts to merge with the landscape and ‘become’ Middlesex (a historic English county that disappeared in 1965). He also narrates a flash fiction history of Stanmore in the language of the birds – which may well fly over the head of anyone who doesn’t believe themselves to be an occult initiate. By way of contrast the most accessible parts of the Scarp are the autobiographical sections: Papadimitriou was a teenage arsonist who ended up in borstal for setting fire to his school and burning down a neighbour’s house.
Imagine a working class Iain Sinclair (of recent vintage such as Ghost Milk rather than White Chappell, Scarlet Tracings) who is high on speedballs instead of knocking back red wine. Papadimitriou isn’t slumming it, he’s from the ‘lower depths’ (hence his obsession with sewage and sewage systems). This is documentary-fiction with the difference that it is just about possible it might all be true. And one final pedantic note: like my novel Down & Out In Shoreditch & Hoxton, Scarp seems to suffer from a dedication that wasn’t sent to the author for proofing. When Papadimitriou offers special thanks to John Regers surely that’s a typo and should read John Rogers! ‘The devil is in the detail’ and there is a lot of detail in Scarp.
And while you’re at it don’t forget to check – – you know it makes (no) sense!


Comment by Guy The Bore on 2012-07-01 14:51:35 +0000

Psychogeography rides again?

Comment by Hitch The Hiker on 2012-07-01 15:17:09 +0000

West Ruslip is a groove sensation….

Comment by Paul Smith on 2012-07-01 18:21:15 +0000

I see they reviewed this in The News of the Bleeding Hearts today too – and mostly compared it to Monty Python…..

Comment by Sarah Chapman on 2012-07-01 19:09:36 +0000

Going back to your previous blog: why are you reviewing books when you were just providing us with 10 reasons to get rid of all our books?

Comment by Fred Flintstone on 2012-07-01 21:37:36 +0000

Southgate rocks! Yabadabadoo!

Comment by Gerry Mallon on 2012-07-01 22:11:38 +0000

Nick is the hero of the hedgerow. Scarp really is a remarkable achievement.

Comment by John Rogers on 2012-07-01 22:35:21 +0000

That’s a great review – and I like the pointing out of the misspelling of my name.

Comment by The Man in the Iron Mask on 2012-07-01 22:39:59 +0000

Sebald Self Sinclair and now Gerald Scarp – another one for the university module in Psychogeography… I blame John Bunyan for starting all this by fixating on Slough and other Protestant edgelands.

Comment by Walerian Borocwyck on 2012-07-01 22:58:22 +0000

@ John Regers I thought you’d changed your name by deedpoll

Comment by GPO on 2012-07-01 23:21:04 +0000

As the newly crowned doyen of the coffee-table set, I would think it behoves Nick to come clean about the real Mr. Regers, his probation officer…

Comment by The Man in the Iron Mask on 2012-07-01 23:58:53 +0000

Nick should also come about his underpants: Janet Reger’s, aren’t they?… And, you Walerian, have got your own deedpolls in a twist: I thought your surname had a ‘z’ in it, ie Borowczyk…

Comment by mistertrippy on 2012-07-02 00:53:54 +0000

Good point…. looks like typos galore then…. and just some “Beast” pretending to be Borowczyk….. (I pronounce it ‘borrow chick’ but I’m never sure if that’s actually right).
@ Sarah Chapman – this is also available as an ebook and I didn’t ask to be sent a print copy, shit happens….

Comment by Deborah Simms on 2012-07-02 13:36:33 +0000

Could you say a little more about Papadimitriou’s obsession with sewage and sewage systems?

Comment by Maria Pérez-Pujazón on 2012-07-02 14:21:14 +0000

JAJAJAJAJAA….sorry….I must admit I actually checked if the book existed!!!

Comment by Gloria Geddes on 2012-07-02 14:22:00 +0000

Brilliant review Mr Home and you really must come and see me sometime – third pylon east of Clay Lane at Edgwarebury. And all you people who slag Raggadagga off – I’ve long got over that little (20 year) interlude in my life and am now safely settled in a mock baronial detached house in Moor Park. Ragga – last I heard – was stuck in Luton strung out on Codeine linctus.

Comment by Gloria Geddes on 2012-07-02 14:33:09 +0000

US – Borrow chick
Polish – Borov chick

Comment by mistertrippy on 2012-07-02 15:13:40 +0000

Gloria, what about meeting me in somewhere more cozy than the third pylon? We could try a pub or something…..
@ Deborah Simms – I could say something about Nick’s obsession with sewage and sewage systems. But I won’t because you can read about that in his book…..

Comment by Peter Mitchelll on 2012-07-02 23:11:11 +0000

Do you think the high ground in north London Papadimitriou describes in his book could be the dark matter of Britain, its core and brain?

Comment by Vikki Vinyl on 2012-07-03 01:39:27 +0000

Has Nick Papadimitriou put the sex back in Middlesex?

Comment by mistertrippy on 2012-07-03 14:29:12 +0000

Vikki read the book and decide for yourself.
@ Peter Mitchell – I don’t think Nick Papadimitriou is the new John Michelll – if you want a new “New View Over Atlantis” you’ll probably have to write it yourself…..

Comment by The Man in the Iron Mask on 2012-07-04 17:44:34 +0000

If insurance was hair you’d be a right Ducksarse, Ducksworth. (Note added by Mister Trippy 22.55 4 July – this was a reply to a spam comment that my spam filter failed to keep out but I’ve manually deleted it. Spam posted on this blog is always deleted and the anger of the blog’s readers towards spammers is appreciated. So I’m leaving this reply up – the one sentence not in brackets as an example to spammers).

Comment by Michael Roth on 2012-07-09 04:44:07 +0000

Wow. The line “And the entire suburb is a groove sensation …” sounds like it could have be written by our very own Mr. Trippy. And that is a groove sensation!

Comment by mistertrippy on 2012-07-12 16:36:03 +0000

It is indeed!

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