Thursday, 22 April 2010

An unloved place

I enjoyed these thoughts on corridors, from Steven Connor’s ‘love letter to an unloved place', broadcast on BBC Radio 3's Nightwaves, 22 June 2004.

‘Of course, some institutions recognise the antechamber role the corridor performs by putting out chairs. But sitting in a chair in a corridor exposes one to as much humiliation and evacuation of being as sitting in a chair on the street …

Corridors are institutional, associated not with private homes, but with schools, hospitals, hotels, town halls, office buildings, police stations, radio stations and barracks. The fundamental unhomeliness of corridors is suggested by the fact that the rooms to which they give access are nearly always numbered, in a way that rooms in a private house, however massive, could never be …

The corridor is the place of the reprobate, the plaintiff, the petitioner. To be in the corridor is to become one of these …

There was a time a few years ago when feelings about the shortcomings or difficulties of the National Health Service would be focussed in stories of patients left for immense periods of time on trolleys, when beds were not available. All the attention was focussed on this mythical ‘trolley’, although in fact all hospital beds are mobile, and therefore in a sense all trolleys. What really mattered and mostly remained unspoken was that to give out, as some did, on a trolley, meant to die in the place where trolleys traffic and accumulate, in corridors.’

Connor has some more good stuff on his website at

Also, I just found out today that On Roads has been longlisted for the Samuel Johnson prize:


  1. Congratulations! Fingers crossed for On Roads, a really wonderful book.

  2. Congratulations on the longlisting. As a fan of On Roads, my fingers too are crossed.

    On corridors, I was reminded of a sonnet by Geoffrey Hill, 'Who are these coming to the Sacrifice?', which contains the lines:
    'Wires tarnish in gilt corridors, in each room
    stiff with the bric-a-brac of loss and gain.'
    Big country houses sometimes have corridors, but installed mostly by the Victorians, before whom rooms usually interconnected, thanks to long-gone forms of social interaction. Even in Victorian country houses, though, corridors were unlikely to be 'gilt', the posh decoration being reserved for state rooms and grand staircases. In Hill's poem they're gilt in order to be tarnished, with a hint, I'm sure, of 'guilty' too. And Hill's corridors, with their bell wires are mostly places for servants; yes, even these gilded corridors are the most institutional bits of the buildings they serve.

  3. Thanks - I love the Hill quote.

  4. A hostel is a place where people from all around the world will go
    to find an inexpensive but friendly night's accommodation.

    Pousada Ubatuba