Thursday 24 June 2010

A suburban relapse ...

"Harmful elements in the air. Symbols clashing everywhere ..." Or is it cymbals crashing? Never was sure. But if you were to pin me down and force me to pick one London song that summed up this project it would have to be Hong Kong Garden by Siouxsie and the Banshees because when this was a hit back in 1978 it seemed so absurd that here was this achingly hip song in the Top 10 basically about a Chinese takeaway in Chislehurst High Street, out in the south east London suburbs, just a short bus ride away. The beautiful thing was that so many people didn't realise, thinking the song oh so mysterious and enigmatic, and if they did know they probably weren't aware the place was so nondescript. Siouxsie down the years has made no secret of the song's subject matter, often referring to the local thugs that would harrass the restaurant's staff. "I remember wishing that I could be like Emma Peel from The Avengers and kick all the skinheads' heads in," said Siouxsie some time later. Oddly, as far as I know, the restaurant's owners never seemed to cash-in on its 'fame'. It was there for years and years, even though the name changed along the way. I kind of liked that sense of obliviousness. It's one of the attractions of London's outer regions. Being able to hide. Except of course some are desperate to escape. And the whole Siouxsie/suburbia thing, the Bromley Contingent, the dressing up and being outrageous angle - it's all part of punk mythology, of course, with Billy Idol and Generation X which is where this all started and this project ends ...


  1. And what a brilliant, briliant 'project' it's been. I hope you're leaving the songs up for a bit because I'm certain there's a whole bunch of stuff here I missed along the way.

    A top job companero, thank you.

  2. Gosh, has it really been a year? Super way to wrap it up. Chapeau!

  3. Cheers mate, it's been a fantastic run!

  4. Good point. Have amended the intro to let people know the site will remain live for everyone to explore.

  5. Have dipped in and out but has been great

  6. Really enjoyed this site ... shame it's stopping. Any chance of an overall list of the tracks by year, or decade?

  7. Thanks Lee. Yes, that would be an interesting exercise. If I get the chance I'll add tags for the decades.

  8. Very nice, thanks for sharing.

  9. Very nice idea, although I'm sure there are loads more old songs. No Bonny Kate or Polly Perkins ? No 'If it wasn't for the 'ouses in between' or 'Dear Old Dutch', or are they too well known ? I doubt they are ...

    I've got a pal,
    A reg'lar out an' outer,
    She's a dear good old gal,
    I'll tell yer all about 'er.
    It's many years since fust we met,
    'Er 'air was then as black as jet,
    It's whiter now, but she don't fret,
    Not my old gal!

    Chorus. — We've been together now for forty years,
    An' it don't seem a day too much,
    There ain't a lady livin' in the land
    As I'd "swop" for my dear old Dutch.

    I calls 'er Sal,
    'Er proper name is Sairer,
    An' yer may find a gal
    As you'd consider fairer.
    She ain't a angel — she can start
    A-jawin' till it makes yer smart,
    She's just a woman, bless 'er eart,
    Is my old gal!

    Sweet fine old gal,
    For worlds I wouldn't lose 'er,
    She's a dear good old gal,
    An' that's what made me choose 'er.
    She's stuck to me through thick and thin,
    When luck was out, when luck was in,
    Ahl wot a wife to me she's been,
    An' wot a pal!

    I sees yer Sal —
    Yer pretty ribbons sportin'
    Many years now, old gal,
    Since them young days of courtin'.
    I ain't a coward, still I trust
    When we've to part, as part we must,
    That Death may come and take me fust
    To wait.......... my pal!

  10. You're right of course Laban. I could have gone on and on and on ... but it was always meant to be a project that was a song a day for one year. I still wake up in the night thinking of the ones I missed.

  11. Just thought I'd correct the error in the Hong Kong Garden entry. The takeaway was in Penge not in Chislehurst. I used to drive past it most days when I lived over that side of the city.

  12. There WAS definitely one in Chislehurst High Street for many, many years, and that's where Siouxsie lived, so I guess ... I mean, you wouldn't go to Penge then would you?

  13. Its like you read my mind! You seem to know so much about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you can do with some pics to drive the message home a little bit, but instead of that, this is great blog. A fantastic read. I'll certainly be back.