‘Scarp’ is Finchley-born urban explorer Nick Papadimitriou’s first book. Set on the escarpment that separates the fringes of North London and Hertfordshire from the lower-lying areas further south (thus giving the book its name), ‘Scarp’ is an intriguing combination of personal recollection, social history and a physical exploration of this unusual semi-urban landscape.
The opening chapter, ‘Suicide Corner’, contains a study of the treacherous stretch of the A41 that claimed many lives back in the 1950s and colourful childhood recollections of getting up to no good on Glebe Road in Barnet. From there it’s a whistlestop tour through Pinner Hill, where the author held a torch for an unattainable young lady, via LSD trips in Welham Green and a court appearance in Edgwarebury, finally coming to rest at ‘Scarp’s Decline’, which recounts a depressing day in Hertford.
‘Scarp’ isn’t exactly a page-turner, but its full of poetry – something to keep on the night-stand and dip in and out of when the mood takes you. There’s a breathtaking amount of colour here, with the author adopting a point of view that makes what are in reality rather mundane suburbs seem like places of mystery and magic. Take, for example, this unusual character whom the author and friend meet with in a milk bar in Borehamwood;
“Ah, will you join me, my little cosmic doves, all flown here from beyond Sirius? I am Raggadagga, Uncrowned King of Middlesex, habitual dweller of progressive ballrooms, and organiser of happenings, street theatrics and occasional riots”
‘Scarp’ is available from all of the usual places from this Thursday, 21 June, priced at £20 – I note that Amazon have it available for considerably less. You can also find it as an e-book for your portable device on most platforms.