Up The Junction was a novel
, or rather, a series of vignette
s, published in 1963 by Nell Dunn, and almost certainly influenced Squeeze
's choice of title for the song noded above. The cover blurb from the original Pan Edition runs:
In 1959 Nell Dunn, then twenty-three and newly married, crossed the bridge from
fashionable Chelsea and bought a tiny house in Battersea. 'It was the most beautiful place I have ever been to. A grapevine grew wild over the outdoor lavatory and the garden was full of sunflowers six-feet high with faces as wide as dinner-plates. At the end of our street were four tall chimneys...' The exuberant, uninhibited life she found in the tired old streets and under the railway arches enchanted her, and she recaptures it in these closely linked sketches which are funny, witty, bawdy and gorgeously human.
When she started writing the book, Dunn had a background in journalism
, and intended simply to do behind-the-scenes reporting in London
slums, and indeed four of the stories in the book were first Published in The New Statesman
in the early 60's. However, the book that grew out of the stories sold more than 450,000 copies, won the John Llewellyn Rhys Memorial Prize in 1963 and is now a required text in several university courses.
The book tells stories of working class women, and deals with their lives as seen through the eyes of a "Chelsea Heiress". The narrator
Battersea, but not of
it, and she drinks in the colour and energy
of the world around her eagerly. Snog
ging sessions, hustles, shopping trips, sex, abortion
, violent and untimely death are all portrayed grittily, but not without humour. Dunn shows a gift for capturing colloquial
speech which bring her characters to life vibrantly, and the product names which litter the stories - Spangles
, Daz, ground it firmly in a time and place, without dating it.
The book was made into an almost universally depressing, but very successful film by Ken Loach
in 1965, starring a young Denis Waterman
. The film captures the darkness of the book, but fails to incorporate
the wit and humour.
Give the movie a miss, but if you can get hold of the book, read it. It's wonderful