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Your Norbury

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  • Your Norbury

    Dear Mike

    I've enjoyed your Jerry Cornelius novels and have just finished 'Mother London', which is just the best thing I've ever read about London.

    I grew up in Norbury in the 70's (I still live close by, in Streatham). The references to Norbury and Mitcham common blew me away.

    I'd love to know a bit more about the your Norbury.

    best wishes

    Dave

  • #2
    I was born in Mitcham but spent all my early years in Norbury, with a brief year or two on the Thornton Heath border. It's changed a fair bit -- indeed it was changing while I was still coming and going while my mother still lived there. At least along London Road, where a lot of the old houses were demolished to make way for big grey office blocks -- a sort of spillage from Croydon. My favourite second hand bookshop was actually in Streatham -- Jennings, on London Road. I knew two generations of Jenningses. Until relatively recently his son was running the business. I suspect it's no longer there. They started selling a lot more remainders the last I went there. During the Teddy Boy area I learned to get home along the rooftops from Norbury Station to Semley Road (actually the last drop was into an alley running behind shops into Semley Road). Last time I was there, for an uncle's funeral, it looked pretty sabubrious to me, though my relatives were complaining it had all changed.aqDVF
    '
    That last bit was the cat's contribution.

    Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
    The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
    Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


    Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
    The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
    Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

    Comment


    • #3
      My Old Man was in a foster home in Mitcham when my Nan had TB in the 'Forties. He enjoyed it - they lived in one of those 'Thirties semis that are so ubiquitous in the area (in fact, I grew up in a similar 'Thirties terrace in Worcester Park - there are millions of the style. bit Bauhaus). Mitcham is curious - a conservation area of beautiful houses, and then a god-awful centre based on a Netto and a car-park. Weird. Could do with a bit of de-'Seventies-architecturisation, like many places. Fornton Eaf's kind of simlar too. Innit? :D Nice and close to the restaurants, prehistory, giant transmitters and ruins of Crystal Palace, though.

      Comment


      • #4
        Not sure whether our house was Thirties or Twenties -- ours was more Arts and Crafts mass production in Dahlia Gardens. I think all the streets around there were called something like Dahlia Gardens. We then moved briefly to a cottage in the grounds of an old manor which I think was probably falling down before the war, but actually might have received an extra bomb or two. As good for playing in as any of the other bombed houses. Funny how everyone of that generation learned to walk across the remaining beams with horrendous drops below. I'd have had heart attacks if MY kids had done anything like that. Actually Hope and Glory is a weird shadow of my own life, even down to discovering our school was hit by a V-bomb over the weekend (nobody dead, much jubiliation at the destruction). I think those grounds are entirely built over now, along with much of the old town around the pond. My mother was born in Step Cottages, Mitcham, which are long-since gone. There was a gypsy camp called The Rocky which I think was named after the nearby Rocky Mountain Cafe. So much rebuilding around there that I find it almost painful to try to recognise old haunts. After that brief stay in the cottage -- which was near the timber yard where my mum worked as an accountant -- we moved to Semley Road, Norbury where I was until well into the start of my writing career. I moved out. My mother moved to Jubilee Court in London Road (briefly) then back to Beatrice Avenue (the Library's on the corner). I lived with her between flats when I came back from Sweden. It was there I was typing a script one afternoon when she kept coming in and looking (she normally never showed an interest in my work). Eventually, during a pause, she came up to me.
        'What are you copying from ?' she asked. 'I'm making it up, mum,' I replied. 'You mean it's all coming out of your head ?'
        'Yes, mum. It's what I do for a living.'
        She left, shaking her head in bafflement.
        She was very proud of me, but my stuff was too horrible for her. She
        read the first paragraph of my first Elric story then threw the magazine away with a shudder. 'I don't know where you get it from,' she said. 'It's not from your father and it's certainly not from me.'
        Better bookshops towards Streatham than towards Thornton Heath. In fact TH had very few. So my cycle rides tended to be more towards Streatham than the other way. Biggin Wood was also a great haunt of mine.

        Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
        The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
        Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


        Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
        The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
        Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

        Comment


        • #5
          I know Beatrice Avenue (and London Road, of course)! 'Hope and Glory' I think was set in Carshalton; where Queen Errindooorz grew up, and where her folks still live. The last bastion of leafiness before Mega City One (Croydon). I went to school in Sutton, which has turned into mini-Croydon, sadly. Lost most of its character. There is still most of Mitcham Common left, a huge tract of pretty wild land that I used to run over when I lived in Streatham. And Mitcham pond is still very nice. In fact, that's the great thing about London - you can go from park to common to little rec's right across the city: In fact, I've found a route by bike from Molesey, down the river to Richmond, up through Richmond Park, Wimbledon Common, Wandsworth Common, Clapham Common and you're virtually in the centre without touching the road - there is a cycle path now from Oxford to Central London along the river. Cool. Although it's sad to see the loss of some beautiful houses, there is also a lot of regeneration of green land in London, very well-managed.

          It's funny, people's reaction to writing, or other creative activity. The anecdote about your mother is interesting; I got something not dissimilar when I naively used to show folk at work some of my short stories (they were foolish, and asked to see it :) ). They would read them dutifully, glaze over or fall asleep, but then would say something like: 'Ah. Oh. Yes. Where did you get that idea from?'. And I'm, like, 'Eh? Well, it just happened*'. There seems to be a 'barrier' that some people, perhaps culturally, have installed to 'fend off' the unusual. Odd, really. My Dad (a former New Worlds reader) will read anything in SF provided its space-oriented, historico-scientific, or Asimovian stuff. But he would absolutely not read any 'Fantasy' at all (though now he has read everything Terry Pratchett has published! So at least it wasn't permanent). I guess people tend to develop their tastes early on, and if those tastes and behaviours don't involve exposure or sampling of new things and forms, they get a bit tram-lined. 'Course, in my case it's probably because my stories are bloody awful :lol:

          *Gary Larson says that when people ask him 'where he gets his ideas', he always has an involuntary vision of a dusty trunk in the attic with faded writing on the lid: 'Ideas'.

          Comment


          • #6
            First, it appears our communications about flying cats have made it through the wire and across no-man's-land, but I don't intend to start cheering yet.
            I forgot about the time I lived in Sutton briefly. Felt too far out for me. I was so used to certain bus-routes (109 and 115 in particular) and British Rail line from Norbury Station to Victoria that I found Sutton unsettling and remote. Was it Benhillwood Road ? I know we lived in a cul-de-sac which seemed pleasant until we discovered that the Salvation Army always stopped there Sunday mornings so a tranquil lie-in wasn't on the cards. I used to yell obscenities out of my window, without effect. They're probably trained to that sort of thing. Pernod hangovers didn't help. The were no doubt sent by the Lord to punish me. I never felt settled there. When I was a lad Croydon itself wasn't too bad, more or less like a conventional English county town. Not an area of natural architectural beauty, but enough mock-Tudor to be on a human scale. I remember Kennards had a kind of indoor/outdoor mall where I saw my first shot of indigo neon after the war (which went from b&w to
            colour rather like Wizard of Oz) and was amazed. Never forgotten that.
            Allders was where Craig and Bentley shot the policeman. I knew them
            all (Craigs and Bentleys) and was convinced Bentley would never have killed or called out for Craig to kill, but I was pretty convinced either of the Craigs could kill. My mother hated the Bentleys but still went round with a petition to try to save him from being hanged. His little brother was worse than him, in my view. When I heard the Bentleys had got compensation a few years back I wanted to know how much the family of the dead copper got. I was outraged. It was the younger Bentley and his nasty mates who had taught me how to go home via the roofs...
            Carshalton, as you might know, was where the Peakes used to live until they moved to Earl's Court. I used to go to see them there when I first knew them. I think the houses have been knocked down since.
            I know what you mean about parks and green spaces in London. Even when I lived in Lancaster Gate I could walk from where I worked in
            Victoria Street (Liberal Party, then) all the way home without once having to do more than cross about two main roads (one of which was Park Lane) once I got into St James's Park. I had a few bike routes like the one you mention, too.
            My dad was a great Arthur Clarke fan (at least until the Sun's revelations which he wasn't up to hearing) but he also tended to believe in flying saucers. A very sober engineer in most aspects and very much of his generation as far as social attitudes were concerned, but the likes of von Daniken could get him going. He actually read fantasy more than sf -- it was his ERB Martian book which turned me on to it -- and never could get me to write another series as good as the Michael Kane books.
            Actually, I'm surprised those are currently out of print. When in print they were amongst my very best sellers... They split up when I was five and by coincidence (or unconscious tribal imperative) moved to Worthing. Neither knew the other lived a couple of streets apart, but that's another story. I'm not sure of the actual mileage involved, but I thought Morden was a lot further from 'town' than Norbury, yet my guess is they're about the same distance. I first used to go up to town on the trams and observed my first wife at about the age of seven being sick on a tram in Brixton (strawberries, mostly). She came from the posher SE
            and went to Bromley High. Is it still easier to go up to Victoria and back down again to get across London by public transport ? Was then.
            When we lived in Fulham (Munster Road and later Queens Club Gardens, origin of Sporting Club Square) I used to enjoy walking over Putney Bridge and out onto the common. I spent most of my adult life in Notting Hill, of course, and Holland Park was where I used to take my kids when young and wrote much of my early work (The Sundered Worlds and Shores of Death, among them, owe much to imagery borrowed from Holland Park and tweaked a bit). Hyde Park was all right but didn't have the 'local' feel of Holland Park. Wormwood Scrubs in the other direction. I've always had a fondness for Wormwood Scrubs which actually sounds as if it should be a location in a Terry Pratchett novel.

            Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
            The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
            Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


            Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
            The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
            Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

            Comment


            • #7
              First, it appears our communications about flying cats have made it through the wire and across no-man's-land, but I don't intend to start cheering yet.
              I forgot about the time I lived in Sutton briefly. Felt too far out for me. I was so used to certain bus-routes (109 and 115 in particular) and British Rail line from Norbury Station to Victoria that I found Sutton unsettling and remote. Was it Benhillwood Road ? I know we lived in a cul-de-sac which seemed pleasant until we discovered that the Salvation Army always stopped there Sunday mornings so a tranquil lie-in wasn't on the cards. I used to yell obscenities out of my window, without effect. They're probably trained to that sort of thing. Pernod hangovers didn't help. The were no doubt sent by the Lord to punish me. I never felt settled there. When I was a lad Croydon itself wasn't too bad, more or less like a conventional English county town. Not an area of natural architectural beauty, but enough mock-Tudor to be on a human scale. I remember Kennards had a kind of indoor/outdoor mall where I saw my first shot of indigo neon after the war (which went from b&w to
              colour rather like Wizard of Oz) and was amazed. Never forgotten that.
              Allders was where Craig and Bentley shot the policeman. I knew them
              all (Craigs and Bentleys) and was convinced Bentley would never have killed or called out for Craig to kill, but I was pretty convinced either of the Craigs could kill. My mother hated the Bentleys but still went round with a petition to try to save him from being hanged. His little brother was worse than him, in my view. When I heard the Bentleys had got compensation a few years back I wanted to know how much the family of the dead copper got. I was outraged. It was the younger Bentley and his nasty mates who had taught me how to go home via the roofs...
              Carshalton, as you might know, was where the Peakes used to live until they moved to Earl's Court. I used to go to see them there when I first knew them. I think the houses have been knocked down since.
              I know what you mean about parks and green spaces in London. Even when I lived in Lancaster Gate I could walk from where I worked in
              Victoria Street (Liberal Party, then) all the way home without once having to do more than cross about two main roads (one of which was Park Lane) once I got into St James's Park. I had a few bike routes like the one you mention, too.
              My dad was a great Arthur Clarke fan (at least until the Sun's revelations which he wasn't up to hearing) but he also tended to believe in flying saucers. A very sober engineer in most aspects and very much of his generation as far as social attitudes were concerned, but the likes of von Daniken could get him going. He actually read fantasy more than sf -- it was his ERB Martian book which turned me on to it -- and never could get me to write another series as good as the Michael Kane books.
              Actually, I'm surprised those are currently out of print. When in print they were amongst my very best sellers... They split up when I was five and by coincidence (or unconscious tribal imperative) moved to Worthing. Neither knew the other lived a couple of streets apart, but that's another story. I'm not sure of the actual mileage involved, but I thought Morden was a lot further from 'town' than Norbury, yet my guess is they're about the same distance. I first used to go up to town on the trams and observed my first wife at about the age of seven being sick on a tram in Brixton (strawberries, mostly). She came from the posher SE
              and went to Bromley High. Is it still easier to go up to Victoria and back down again to get across London by public transport ? Was then.
              When we lived in Fulham (Munster Road and later Queens Club Gardens, origin of Sporting Club Square) I used to enjoy walking over Putney Bridge and out onto the common. I spent most of my adult life in Notting Hill, of course, and Holland Park was where I used to take my kids when young and wrote much of my early work (The Sundered Worlds and Shores of Death, among them, owe much to imagery borrowed from Holland Park and tweaked a bit). Hyde Park was all right but didn't have the 'local' feel of Holland Park. Wormwood Scrubs in the other direction. I've always had a fondness for Wormwood Scrubs which actually sounds as if it should be a location in a Terry Pratchett novel.

              Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
              The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
              Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


              Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
              The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
              Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

              Comment


              • #8
                Dear Mike

                Thanks for taking the time to reply.

                As a schoolboy I spent a lot of time in Jennings too. The elderly chap who always wore a grey overall type coat, could usually be spied engrossed in his extensive collection of second hand Mayfair / Forum / Club Internationals. I bought loads of American comics and MAD books in there. He also had a good selection of NEL/Richard Allen stuff. I sold it all back to him at a fraction of the price to fund my punk rock record collection. I think it shut down sometime in the 80's. Alpha Book Exchange (inferior to Jennings on the comic front) which was in 'The Dip' in Streatham has closed down too.

                My mother still lives in Norbury in the sheltered accomodation that was built next door to where Derek Bentley lived in Fairview road. I remember spending time playing in the disused 'lock-up' garages that stood there before.

                I used to get the 115 bus too, down to the open air swimming pool at Purley

                Did you go to Norbury Manor ?

                Best wishes

                Dave

                Comment


                • #9
                  I didn't go to Norbury Manor and am rather glad I didn't because that's where the Bentleys went. As it was I did my 11+ there and because he and his gang were waiting in the playground lost a fair amount of concentration. I went to an inferior private school in a road whose name has completely escaped me for the moment and then to Pitman's College in Croydon (after I'd failed my 11+!). My best friend Brian Alford did go to Norbury Manor and emerged better educated than I.
                  My auntie Kit ran the newsagents shop on the corner of Fairview Road (and also supported the petition to try to save Derek from hanging).
                  That elderly chap in Jennings was actually Young Jennings. His dad was Old Jennings. I suspect they shared a common interest in the porn of the day. Both were a shade on the sleazy side. That's where I bought the only known of two copies in private hands of Zenith the Albino. I sold all my stuff back to him, too, for similar reasons (except I was probably buying Woody Guthrie and Ledbelly records from Collectors Corner Jazz Records behind St Leonard's further up. I remember his disdain when I bought Bill Hailey's first release -- he'd had to go over to the despised rock and roll in order to keep his shop going).
                  I also remember Alpha Book Exchange, though it wasn't a regular stop for me and might have started after I'd stopped living in South London -- though I visited my mother there regularly. Might have been run by Alan Bale, who ran several such shops, as did my friend Arthur Sellings, who ran the Popular Book Centre in Morden -- as well as a few other branches here and there.
                  I used to go in the other direction -- to Tooting baths. Purley was considered a bit posh in my day! Though my mother's firm moved there when its Mitcham premises were closed down. My mother was born in Step Cottages, Mitcham, long-since dismantled, and quite a bit of London Blood (in the collection LONDON BONE) is based on her early life in Tooting. The tram accident, for instance, is a true story.

                  Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
                  The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
                  Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


                  Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
                  The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
                  Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Wow...do we all/ have we all lived in Streatham?

                    The closest thing a bookshop in Streatham these days (not counting the obligatory WHSmiths, of course) is that place on the high street that appears to give equal amounts of shelf space to second hand books and bongs....

                    I'm still mourning the demise of Into the Void....and I would have loved it if there was still a John Lewis here.

                    About all you can buy here these days is mobile phones, for some reason.

                    Jeremiah, denizen of Streatham

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Jeremy Hardy's inclined to mention Streatham rather a lot on The News Quiz. I suspect he's paid by the Streatham Chamber of Commerce.
                      All you can buy anywhere, these days, is mobile phones. I just wrote to PM about les mobiles en France -- well, specifically Boul. St-Michel, Paris.
                      The only thing keeping the economy up is house prices and mobile phones so that you can phone outsourced customer relations depts.

                      Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
                      The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
                      Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


                      Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
                      The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
                      Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Jeremy Hardy's inclined to mention Streatham rather a lot on The News Quiz. I suspect he's paid by the Streatham Chamber of Commerce.
                        All you can buy anywhere, these days, is mobile phones. I just wrote to PM about les mobiles en France -- well, specifically Boul. St-Michel, Paris.
                        The only thing keeping the economy up is house prices and mobile phones so that you can phone outsourced customer relations depts.

                        Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
                        The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
                        Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


                        Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
                        The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
                        Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Right! I'm hedging my bets for investments by putting all* my money in mobile homes! Ha! It's a sure-fire cert!

                          Ah, yes, The News Quiz. A Fave. Almost as good as I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue. We should start a thread playing Mornington Crescent. With the lovely Samantha...

                          Streatham has some notable saving graces. A recent diversification of interesting cafes. And the foxes sunbathe on the corrugated-iron roof over the garages at the back of The High. I once saw a grey Chinchilla (the rodent, not the cat) running along the wall of the same place. Escapee. Either that or one seriously well-bouffanted squirrel...

                          *I haven't any, mind.

                          Comment


                          • #15
                            Originally posted by Michael Moorcock
                            My best friend Brian Alford did go to Norbury Manor and emerged better educated than I.
                            Mike, while scouring the web for images to populate the Image Gallery, I came across a photo of you and Brian which was taken at your 60th birthday party. You can see the picture here:

                            [broken link]

                            There was also a nice story to go with the photo. In case you haven't read it, it is here:

                            http://www.austinchronicle.com/issue..._feature2.html

                            Thought you'd enjoy.
                            Last edited by Rothgo; 04-22-2010, 08:19 AM.
                            "Wounds are all I'm made of. Did I hear you say that this is victory?"
                            --Michael Moorcock, Veteran of the Psychic Wars

                            Comment

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