Saturday, 18 April 2009

A reader writes

If you saw my earlier post on ‘Glittering Prizes,’ you’ll know that academic publishers don’t do freebies. If you want to access a scholarly article online, your institution either has to have a subscription to that journal or you have to pay some astronomical one-off fee that nevertheless seems bizarrely precise, like £17.92, as if to give the impression that it’s been scientifically arrived at. Anyway, one of my publishers, Sage, must have had a rush of blood to the head because this article I wrote seems to be available on the internet for free, at least for now:

It’s about the distinctive culture of the gentrifiers who settled in up-and-coming areas of London in the 1960s: things like knocking through the internal walls, Elizabeth David dinner parties and Habitat tables. One of the streets I mention is Gloucester Crescent in Camden where a lot of writers and artists lived: George Melly, Clare and Nicholas Tomalin, Alan Bennett, Marc Boxer (who wrote a book, The Trendy Ape, about it). Bennett’s The Lady in the Van is set on Gloucester Crescent.

Anyway, I got an email from someone who came across this article and who now lives in the States but who lived in Camden Town from 1962 to 1988 and whose parents were ‘gentrifiers’:

’My mother used to take me shopping in Soho on Saturday mornings: we would go to Parmigiani, an Italian delicatessen which had fresh ravioli and coppa, and the original Patak's on Drummond Street. She had Elizabeth David and Eliza Acton on her kitchen bookshelf. We bought furniture and toys from Habitat on Tottenham Court Road, and linens from the John Lewis Partnership on Oxford Street and Liberty's on Regent Street.My dad rode a silver-painted Molton cycle, which had been used for a number on the Black and White Minstrel Show. My parents’ first car was a bubble car, an Isetta, and later they drove a green mini with two rows of seats and gate doors in the back.’

He found my article because he’s been talking to some of the people he grew up with on the ‘Gloucester C Gang’ facebook group, ‘for all those who were kids in Gloucester Crescent in the 1960s & 70s and still wonder what their parents were doing and want to exchange photos and stories’.

Anyway, it was kind of him to write – a voice from the past and across continents. It’s always nice to hear from readers (other readers please note!)

Mundane quote for the day: ‘When for so many people nothing remains at the end of the day except for the bitter wear and tear of so many dull hours, the preparation of a meal furnishes that rare joy of producing something oneself, of fashioning a fragment of reality, of knowing the joys of demiurgic miniaturization, all the while securing the gratitude of those who will consume it by way of pleasant and innocent seductions.’ – Luce Giard


  1. The paper "Early Cultures of Gentrification in Londod,1955-1980" is apparently only available free of charge up to the end of April.I found it to be most interesting,perceptive and well researched using a wide range of references. It certainly deserves a wider audience than it has perhaps received so far through publication in a journal which many would never see. I now wonder how many other research papers by Joe of similar interest and quality I have missed. To anyone who reads this before April 30 I recommend that you read the paper before it disappears off line.

  2. Very sorry,but it is a bit early in the morning for me. In the above, for Londod read London.