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 – www.stewarthomesociety.org – you know it makes (no) sense!

About mistertrippy

Stewart Home was born in south London in 1962. His mother Julia Callan-Thompson was a showgirl and club hostess. He has never held down a regular job for more than a few months at a time. On those rare occasions when he's been forced to work, Home has taken employment as a factory labourer, agricultural labourer, shop assistant, office clerk and art class model. Deciding he didn't like working in factories as a teenager, Home pursued cultural and political interests, writing many books and participating in even more gallery exhibitions.
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23 thoughts on “Scarp by Nick Papadimitriou (Sceptre £20)

  1. Guy The Bore says:

    Psychogeography rides again?

  2. Hitch The Hiker says:

    West Ruslip is a groove sensation….

  3. Paul Smith says:

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

  4. Sarah Chapman says:

    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?

  5. Fred Flintstone says:

    Southgate rocks! Yabadabadoo!

  6. Gerry Mallon says:

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

  7. John Rogers says:

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

  8. The Man in the Iron Mask says:

    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.

  9. Walerian Borocwyck says:

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

  10. GPO says:

    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…

  11. The Man in the Iron Mask says:

    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…

  12. mistertrippy says:

    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….

  13. Deborah Simms says:

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

  14. Maria Pérez-Pujazón says:

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

  15. Gloria Geddes says:

    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.

  16. Gloria Geddes says:

    US – Borrow chick
    Polish – Borov chick

  17. mistertrippy says:

    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…..

  18. Peter Mitchelll says:

    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?

  19. Vikki Vinyl says:

    Has Nick Papadimitriou put the sex back in Middlesex?

  20. mistertrippy says:

    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…..

  21. The Man in the Iron Mask says:

    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).

  22. Michael Roth says:

    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!