....That's What I'm Not
'Once out of doors they were more aware of the factory rumbling a few yards away over the high wall. Generators whined all night, and during the day giant milling machines working away on cranks and pedals in the tunnery gave to the terrace the sensation of living within breathing distance of some monstrous being that suffered from a disease of the stomach.'
Alan Sillitoe, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning
The latest instalment in my trip from Southampton to Glasgow for Building Design - Nottingham, or four things to do with a post-industrial city *. The bile is mostly reserved for new student housing, although Make's Jubilee Campus receives the now-customary kicking. What is especially interesting is that this random assemblage of decon-lite tat, with its apparently contextual pinkish tiles (a bit like brick!) and its utterly risible giant sculpture (a bit like some spokes in a wind sock), is placed in something of a ground zero for the British kitchen sink novel - the site of the Raleigh Bicycle Factory where Arthur Seaton works in Saturday Night and Sunday Morning. As in my current East Greenwich manor, industry still exists at the edges of the Jubilee site, even if the main site has been cleared for Blairboxes - and with particular aptness, not far away, looming over the site, are four plattenbau blocks which were filmed by Anton Corbijn for Control, that misbegotten combination of rock myth and kitchen sink, presumably because Nottingham looked more authentically grim than contemporary Manchester. Which it does.
More thoughts on Arthur Seaton, relevant to the discussion between Padraig of Communist Realism and K-Punk over whether Red Riding marks merely a more sophisticated version of capitalist realism, a more intelligent Life on Mars, a commenter on Red Pepper's forum discussion on the Miners Strike has the following to say about Sean Bean's powerful, replulsive portrayal of a refracted version of John Poulson: 'Dawson, the property developer makes me think of all those 'angry young men' in the northern fiction of the late 50s and early eighties. The likes of Joe Lampton and Arthur Seaton were never typical 'working class heroes'; too individualist, aggressive and avaricious to fit that mould. You could easily imagine them turning into a Dawson-type character. The sort of self-made gob-shites that fell over themselves for Thatcher and who she in turn loved.' This is the kind of analysis that Robin Carmody would agree with, where the supposedly anti-establishment figures of pop culture mytholology, with their contempt for Butskellite paternalism, became the foundation for a new, and yet more brutal establishment. Let's not forget who Ian Curtis voted for in 1979.