Author Will Self declares Croydon to be a ‘sexy suburb’

For an area which was described dismissively as “having an image problem” by one of its own MPs, the perception of Croydon must be set for a thorough overhaul after the novelist, Will Self, described ours and other London suburbs as being “inherently sexual, they heave and pullulate with sexiness”. Ooo, missus.

Sexy suburbs: Will Self has been full of praise for Croydon

Sexy suburbs: Will Self has lavished praise on Croydon

Self was speaking to the Evening Boris, ahead of Doughnut: The Outer London Festival, a day of music, food, film and debate to celebrate outer London which is being staged this Saturday at the Royal Naval College at Greenwich.

“I grew up in the London suburbs and of course I found them ineffably dull when I was a child but now I understand their excitement and their promise,” Self said.

“This last summer solstice I walked to the high point on the North Downs overnight, an astonishing walk through the outer London suburbs of Shirley and Croydon, really strange, beautiful and poetic places at night. There is such a lot there and I think people are unaware of it.”

Inside Croydon, too, is aware of strange things happening in the Shirley Hills at night time, though we have not been able to confirm whether this is what Self had in mind when he said the suburbs “heave and pullulate with sexiness”.

Self has become involved in the politics of London lately, endorsing Christian Wolmar in his campaign to become Labour’s choice as the party’s candidate for London Mayor.

Self declared that he paid over his £3 to have a vote in the Labour leadership and Mayoral selections specifically so that he could back Wolmar.

“I’ve known Christian as a colleague for more than 30 years – at a personal level he has always struck me as a principled and honest man without a scintilla of vanity, pride, self-righteousness or narcissism (the besetting character flaws of the career politician),” Self wrote.

And Self said: “My belief is that if you want to understand local politics in Britain (or any other polity for that matter), follow the money. The effective tax revenue base for the London Mayoralty and the GLA is, once Transport for London revenues are set to one side, pitifully small compared to that of other metropolitan administrations worldwide. The purse-strings relating to London’s governance remain tightly in the hands of Westminster politicians. As things stand, with a few concessions such as the power to overrule planning decisions (which both the current and previous mayors have conspicuously abused), and to grandstand on ‘security issues’ via its oversight of the Metropolitan Police, the mayoral post remains essentially a lopsided combination of glorified transport manager and international marketing executive for ‘London plc’.

“The justness of a Wolmar mayoralty will be that Christian is both the ideal incumbent for the current fiscal dispensation, and the perfect person to push the mayoralty in the direction of greater power commensurate with its democratic mandate. I believe his status as a relative political outsider will prevent the mayoralty from becoming – still more than it already is – just another political football on the Westminster pitch. Unlike other potential Labour candidates for the post, Christian doesn’t have to live-down previous debacles – such as the woeful ‘legacy’ of the Olympic Games – nor is he shackled by expedient alliances.

“We need a London mayor who has a truly socialistic outlook: one which encompasses all Londoners, wherever they may have originated, or where they may live in this great city. We need a London mayor impervious to the blandishments of traditional powerbrokers, and capable of resisting the turbulence occasioned by the international capital flows cascading through the City. In Christian Wolmar I believe Labour – and Londoners in general – have such a candidate.”

Sexy, eh?

About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
This entry was posted in 2016 London elections, Christian Wolmar, London-wide issues, Mayor of London, Shirley and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Author Will Self declares Croydon to be a ‘sexy suburb’

  1. Lewis White says:

    I was thinking recently about the best way forward for the redevelopment of the Surrey Street area…. how to keep the feeling of real gritty old Croydon, but with beautiful architecture. The aim – to create a genuinely vibrant environment, and – as a result – pull in lots of people to spend their money in and around this historic market place.

    I came to the conclusion that we need to knock down several carbuncles from the 60s, and build a new version of real Elizabethan buildings, with green oak frames and infill of hand made Surrey bricks, or wattle and daub, finished with organic lime wash. And hand-made tile and thatched roofs.This would be a bit like an earthier version of the Rows in Chester of York’s Shambles. It would run along the whole of Surrey Street, and down Crown Hill. It would be built entirely by young unemployed people – to teach them readily transferable skils such as adzeing, plastering, bricklaying, pargetting, glass-blowing, tiling and thatching.

    The upper portions of the buildings will be jettied out in the familiar Elizabethan way. However, the effluvia from the contents of chamber pots will not be flung from the windows – there will be biomass composters concealed in every basement. The lower floor will be galleried – to make a cool and shady walkway, to protect market visitors from the globally-warming sun.

    We would then populate the ground floor with butchers selling only free range organic meats from nearby Surrey – and urban farms in South Norwood – with pig and beef carcasses hanging from hooks outside each shop. Ladies of a certain virtue would occupy the upper rooms, and have windows and little balconies, from where they could call out and wolf-whistle young men passing by below.

    ” ‘Ello darlin ! You like a nice young man! Would you like to come up and see me? I’ve got some nice stone baked ciabattas with a lovely, home-made sun-dried tomato sauce! And a nice organic coffee?–I can see you are a real man–a double shot espresso will be your type? Ha ha! …..I can give you three! Buy two–get one free. ! at no extra cost! Or would you like to have a sharing platter of oyster, scallop and king prawn (from sustainable MSC-approved fisheries) with a nice girl like me?. And, afterwards, we can have a nice lie down on a nice soft couch–I just got it, brand new, from the House of Reeves. I always support my local fellow traders! You will be the first gentleman to feel my stuffing! I can give you a very good introductory rate!”

    Yes, this is the way forward to create a real Croydon, of which we can all be proud. The crowds will come to East Croydon station, and hail pedal-powered rickshaws to bring them into Old Town, the edgy epicentre of South London’s coolest, realest, sexiest suburb.

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