Croydon Till I Die: taking the suburbs to the nation

Croydon Fairfield Halls“I think it’s the most derogatory thing I can say about somebody or something: God, it’s so fucking Croydon!” David Bowie

Authors Bob Stanley, Lucy Mangan, John Grindrod and Andy Miller are staging a series of events this summer celebrating the cultural life of the suburbs – including Croydon.

Locally the dates for the Croydon Till I Die Tour are:

May 21Bookseller Crow, Crystal Palace – with John Grindrod, Lucy Mangan and Andy Miller

June 11Fairfield Halls, Arnhem Gallery, Croydon – with John Grindrod, Andy Miller and Bob Stanley

The organisers say:

“The borough of Croydon has borne the brunt of decades of mockery from the likes of Bromley’s David Bowie, a tradition that stretches back to the general distaste for the suburbs expressed by intellectuals such as Virginia Woolf, TS Eliot and EM Forster and in books such as The Diary of a Nobody.

“In fact, the cultural life of the suburbs is rich and varied, and modern music, art, architecture, film and literature would be radically different without the influence of the people who live there and whose work reflects suburbia’s perennial outsider status.

“From Bridget Riley to Sam Taylor-Johnson; from the black composer Samuel Coleridge Taylor to Kirsty MacColl; from Richard Seifert’s iconic No1 Croydon (aka “the 50p building”) to Croydon College of Art, whose alumni include Ray Davies, Malcolm McLaren, Jamie Reid, Mervyn Peake, Noel Fielding and FKA twigs, Croydon has long played its part in the cultural life of Britain.

“The Fairfield Halls, opened in 1962, has hosted concerts by The Beatles, Kraftwerk, T Rex, The Who, Tangerine Dream and Pink Floyd; famously, both Captain Sensible and Rat Scabies of the Damned cleaned the toilets of the venue.”

Three of the authors taking part in Croydon Till I Die: John Grindrod, Andy Miller and

Three of the authors taking part in Croydon Till I Die: John Grindrod, Andy Miller and Bob Stanley

John Grindrod, Lucy Mangan, Andy Miller and Bob Stanley are authors who all have strong links to the suburbs of south London.

They have written extensively about the experience of growing up in the area and its influence on how they see the world. This summer they will bring Croydon to fashionable east London, to the foot of a Welsh mountain and to the heart of the town itself, the Fairfield Halls. In evenings of readings, conversation and debate, they will talk about their work and the debt that the metropolis owes to suburbia.

“Urbanistas, lose your preconceptions – and let Lucy, Bob, John and Andy take you on a journey to the (Whitgift) centre of the mind.”

John Grindrod grew up in New Addington. He is the author of Concretopia: A Journey Around the Rebuilding of Postwar Britain (Old Street), described by the Independent on Sunday as “a new way of looking at modern Britain”. He has written for everything from The Guardian to Inside Croydon, runs the website and can be contacted on Twitter @Grindrod.

Lucy Mangan grew up in Catford but struck out for the heady delights of Bromley for her A-levels. Then went back to Catford. She is a features writer and columnist for The Guardian, Stylist, Puffin magazine and others. She has written four books – the latest is Inside Charlie’s Chocolate Factory (Penguin), a history of the Roald Dahl classic to celebrate its 50th anniversary – but prefers reading. She is currently researching her new book, about the history of children’s literature, which combines the best of both worlds. She would love you to follow her on Twitter @lucymangan because it saves going out.

Andy Miller is a reader, writer and editor of books, a passion born in the municipal libraries of South Croydon. He is the author of the acclaimed The Year of Reading Dangerously: How Fifty Great Books Saved My Life (4th Estate), as well as books about The Kinks and how much he dislikes sport. His work has appeared in the Guardian, Mojo, Esquire and many more. His website is and he is on Twitter @i_am_mill_i_am.

Bob Stanley is a writer, film producer and member of the pop group Saint Etienne. His book Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Story of Modern Pop (Faber) is a former Rough Trade Shops Book of the Year. He used to sell eggs on Surrey Street market and currently runs the Croydon Municipal imprint, releasing his own compilations and reissued lost classics. His website is and can be found on Twitter @rocking_bob.

Tickets for all events are available from the venues.

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2 Responses to Croydon Till I Die: taking the suburbs to the nation

  1. As we know much of central Croydon was built in the 1960’s and the architecture, road system etc reflects the thinking of that era. It has all grown old at once and it is easy to criticise what was once the “fashion” . However Croydon has been very successful over much of the last 50 years in terms of business, retail, transport etc and hopefully it can move forward given there seems to be a will to get things done. Getting the right things done is the difficult bit as there are many differing thoughts (or none) on what is needed or perhaps wanted.

  2. Sometimes I grow tired and weary of the grinding poverty of this place and then I will sit with friends from across the Borough and plan some new activity and I go home excited that from my home I can live and work with such a brilliant range of diverse, original, spirited people; share their food and their cultures; and a vision for a brighter more equal future for all our children…… If you get involved, Croydon at the grassroots is anything but dull. There is an amazing sense of entrepreneurialism, a sharing of faiths and ethical values, and a belief that we can overcome anything.

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