Suburban legends quiz



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    While prospecting the robot-filled mines beneath Surbiton town centre, this 1980s legend stumbled across the prodigious wealth that later allowed him to build the giant, rubbish-strewn mansion in which he lived out his days. The mine was possibly located beneath land dug to plant swedes on by Tom and Barbara Good in classic Surbiton-set sitcom ‘The Good Life’.


    Holloway was a suburb in the Victorian era and this author’s autobiographical ‘The Diary of a Nobody’, centring on the mundane adventures of a lower-middle-class bank clerk, is considered the definitive guide to suburban life. Says the author’s roguish son at one point: ‘It is no question of being good or bad. There is no money in it, and I am not going to rot away my life in the suburbs.’


    Although this great Englishman never lived in the Metroland suburbs that he praised in poetry and on film, he will be forever associated with the great north-western sprawl served by the Metropolitan Railway between Baker Street and Chesham. He wrote three poems about the area – ‘Harrow-on-the-Hill’, ‘Middlesex’ and ‘The Metropolitan Railway’ – before making the TV doc ‘Metroland’, in which he visited Neasden, ‘home of the gnome and the average citizen’, Wembley, Harrow, Pinner, Moor Park, Amersham and more.


    Did you know that this ringmaster of American suburban trash-talk culture was born in East Finchley underground station during the Blitz? His parents were Jewish refugees who briefly settled in the area before moving to the United States. Other famous Finchleyites include Terry-Thomas and Samantha Fox.


    Born in Hull in 1902, this poet and novelist moved to Palmers Green when she was three and lived there until her death in 1971. The suburbs formed an essential part of her world-view, and she wrote about it many times – including in the poems ‘Suburb’ and the witty but vicious ‘The Suburban Classes’ (‘There is far too much of the suburban classes/Spiritually not geographically speaking. They are asses./Menacing the greatness of our beloved England, they lie/Propagating their kind in an eightroomed stye’). In her 1949 essay, ‘A London Suburb’, she argued: ‘The virtue of the suburb lies in this… it is wide open to the sky, it is linked to the city, it is linked to the country, the wind blows fresh, it is a cheap place for families to live in and have children and gardens… And behind the fishnet curtains in the windows of the houses is the family life – father’s chair, uproar, dogs, babies and radio.’How did you get on? To find out, click here.

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