Search This Blog

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Tales From Outer Suburbia

These pictures are from a childrens' book 'Tales From Outer Suburbia' by Shaun Tan.  The stories and illustrations have that folk suburb Wyrd-on-Suburb feel: the vibrations of other forces - and the sense that anything is probable - that surround and weave in and out of the outer suburb where it meets the country; always undermining any attempts to keep it at bay, through building, covering over or ignoring it.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

'tis appling time

Was out walking today and passed an unusual suburb site: a front garden apple tree, laden with red fruit & with many dropped into the remaining narrow strip of grass, the rest being monoblocked.
I have not seen an apple tree in the front garden.  The interwar suburb, in my memory, was thick with apple and other fruit trees: our house had an apple tree at the top and we would swap excess fruit with next door, who had a plum and a pear tree.
I imagine that these trees were planted by keen new householders, or even thrown in by the builders.  But much of the suburb was laid over farmland: and my grandparents' house was one of many built around a farmhouse, the farm having presumably sold off their land (the shrunken farm lingered on into the 1950s or 60s before being replaced by a primary school).  In these cases, fruit trees appeared oddly in gardens: a parcelled out orchard.
I tried to get a photo of today's tree, but the householder wanted to know what I was doing.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Castles in the suburb

Folk suburb loves the old speaking in the new, and this castle wall stands hidden in the May and Elder at the end of a road of semi-detacheds.  You can step out of the normal car-washing and pressure sprayers, in a Hill Of Dreams kind of way, and climb the footpath that is visible only in a slightly crushed note to the ramsons, and emerge, brushing through the bramble briar, in this hollow, where all is silent except for the start up of a lawnmower somewhere below.
I also like this graffiti, carved rather than sprayed: BUTCH 1982.  Suburb folk in itself.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Extension No.1

As promised.  For this first extension I have selected this 60s/70s garage-lounge combination, with sunken garage.  There is something 60s about the flat roof and below-street-level garage, aswell as the faux-rustic stonework, while it is culturally redolent of the 70s suburb, when these type of extensions had bedded in to their laburnum soaked pavements, with a faint musk of Invisible Man-era USA.  Or what we imagined the USA to be like.  In the background of these, though, would be a view of a distant stone farm house, huddled in a circle of beech trees and crows.

Added either side of the garage door have been pre-cast chess knights - maybe reflecting a hobby of the builder/commissioner.
There is something Elizabethan about the commissioning of this detail, even if it is bought out of the builders yard, to reflect a life: and live on it does: verily the Folk Suburb indeed.

Also, in this view, is the germ of a future series in the 'doorside lamp', and the scaly aiming-at-a-Spanish-feel renderwork round the door is a remembrance of holidays in Franco's blasted fishing villages (see also the more Godzilla-like application of this style in a previously covered extension).

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Advance That Standard

Due to one thing after another I've not been able to put anything up here for a while.  However, the ol' Suburban Standard will be advanced once more next week with a new series on home extensions.  Can't wait eh?

Meanwhile, you might like to take a look at cabin'd cribb'd confin'd, where I have done something.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Imageless Images

Sadly, due to computing issues, we have no pictures this week.

As an anitdote to a rash of paved over drives and solar lamps, at the end of last summer, I planted a blackcurrant bush, picked up cheap at B&Q.  It is now beginning to burst its buds: green and yellow leaves unfurling from the pink buds like indoor fireworks, or the newspaper palms we had to make at this time of year, every year, for Palm Sunday.

1980: Already, the golden vegetable and fruit age of the suburb was dying, but I didn't see it.

I have started considering the world of Folk Suburban window sited ceramics, blasting & blessing as I go.  This week I wish very much to blast! a display of off-the-shelf vases I have seen in a window round the corner.  Alternating are Superdrug-pink and white vases, in strictly equal number.  I am imagining these have been bought, all at once, and for a 'look', with no real care whatsoever.  No piece or assembly is important, and will be gone again in a year when the colours 'go out'.  They stand opposite the remains of an ancient orchard, marked now only by a wall.
I beg leave to bless!, however, a nearby china robin on a ceramic mound of rubble, painted green on the top part and with Happy Christmas picked out in gold and white on the lower.  The robin's breast is too red, and its wings too brown, but this robin, sitting in a windowsill as it does all year round, I only presume was given with care, and is thus proudly displayed.

News reaches the Folk Suburb of the final landing of the space shuttle.  A metal model of this lives in our house somewhere.
I was drawn to remember the evening of the first landing - it was a summer's evening, I am sure, where the sun shone low, pale yellow gone to white through a slightly misty haze of tired heat; stuffed with gnats.  We were playing a game, I remember it well, of attempting to chip-land a football on the rows of haysweet cut grass in the park.  It was already turning grey, from lying there so late in the day.
The sky, I remember, was clear pure blue; maybe with a 'plane streak in it, I'm not sure.  I'm sure my mum, washing up in the shade of the kitchen, would have warned of chopped up dog shit being in the clippings.

Lateish - and people are disappearing inside to watch the shuttle come in to land. The light rushes silently out from the old lanes.  We stayed in the park, with the gnats, chipping the football.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Folk Suburb #5

In the moment you are tired, dog-tired, but near no bed; when one world oscillates with another, and another one can be magicked, accessed through the tired sight of one object, the smell of one some thing, the temperature of something, that is when the folk suburb reveals itself: in the right circumstances, like catching the fairy ring occupied.
They asked him to go a-hunting.  A bottle of Diet Sparkling Florida Orange is opened at the desk opposite.  I am dog-tired, coming in and out.  Suddenly, the deep orange colour, and the smell of synthetic oranges, sends, like Orwell's King Zog poster, back - to a particular glass bottle of Corona Orange.
There is parched grass.  Here is a park, deliberately laid out (unlike our 'playing fields'), and it is reached by a lane, this lane, joining our world to that - a steep lane, bordered by high hedges and brambles.  The hedges screen the sound of the suburb, on this hot afternoon: the scraped plates, the sawn wood, the snatch of conversation carried suddenly by the heat; and, in early autumn, they will be filled with fat blackberries.

But it is now.  We emerge, come out, opposite the park, more or less, in shorts probably.  There are Edwardian pictures that exist of boys in black shorts & high collars (it must be Sunday) prodding at paper boats with sticks in a pond (long gone), but it retains an aviary and a putting green.

We are heading there now, excited.  And these bold and wicked villains, took his life away.  None of them are there now - the birds, mostly budgies and canaries - are all dead, and the putting green is returned to grass.  Someone's job they left for, every morning in the summer, was to sit in the temporary hut handing out clubs and balls and scoring cards, printed on warm, blotting paper-like paper.  They are gone now.
There is one hole that resembles one of those Jamboree biscuits and the humps have dried out and are grassless, in the hot weather.  We lie out on them.
In the autumn, the metal flags will be packed away again, and the green willl be just a hedged off rectangle , bumped like an iron age fort; all but empty of all but its history.  We watch the flags being put away again.

But soon the orangeade is Diet Sparkling again - a bottle.  All those people are gone.  And in the ditch there is no water, only brush and briar grew.  They could not hide the blood of slaughter, so in the lane his body threw.