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!