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2014-01-19

"Are London's suburbs swinging? Economic and demographic change in Outer London are having big social and political effects"


Link to The Guardian

"We all know the cliches. We may love them too, those curtain-twitching, privet-trimming, social-climbing, car-washing, amusingly neurotic, sometimes adorably eccentric suburbanites. They are Surbiton's Good Life neighbours, Purley's Terry and June, and Tony Hancock of the (by then non-existent) East Cheam; Hanif Kureishi's Bromley Buddha, even, arguably, Streatham's homely Madame Cyn; the inhabitants of Betjeman's Metroland.

"Here are people and places easily patronised and tenderly teased for their steady decencies and small hypocrisies in the commuter borderlands between countryside and city-roar, where grey merges into green and forms a state of mind.

"But even clich├ęs change. And the suburbs themselves, for all their reputation for prim protectiveness, are not immune. Dig into the right data and find firm evidence that popular culture needs to adjust its assumptions and its aim.

"For a start, suburban territory has got more crowded - the 2011 census found the population of Outer London to be approaching five million, which is half a million more than in 2001. The classic attraction of the suburbs is that they provide more space, but far more people are now crowded into them."

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