Went to this earlier in the week, a conference on suburbia and gun-crime. Proceedings were ably chaired by Jim Naughtie, one time kebbaber of Neil Kinnock. I will resist the old gag “a face for radio” but seeing as he’d been on at the crack of dawn that morning and the next day he looked remarkably sprightly at the evening do.

No-one seemed to be addressing the subject (guncrime or suburbia) particularly and there was a lot of general moaning at the youth of today having no respect etc etc.  One panellist said we’d gone in 50 years from homes fit for heroes to neighbours from hell. Elsewhere we were told “One can’t legislate against testosterone-filled me. They’re always going to be there”.

The point is 21st century suburbs are not the whitefaced, drab and dreary places they are commonly thought to be. Hell it’s from Bromley we got punk and its from “here beneath the blue suburban skies” that the Beatles emerged. Since then Oasis were not motivated into music as an alternative to jumping off towerblocks as they would have you believe but they hailed from the council cottage estate of municipal suburbia that is Burnage, far flung from the centre of Manchester. Update things to today and there  are the Kumars at Number 42 and the much hyped Hounslow-set Londonstani – a book so akingly hip it had its own cinematic style trailer. Despite their naff image, the suburbs are a site of creative energy and resistance – don’t laugh.

Longer article at Comment is Free here.