Up The Junction was a novel, or rather, a series of vignettes, 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's industrial 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 is in Battersea, but not of it, and she drinks in the colour and energy of the world around her eagerly. Snogging 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, Babycham, 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.

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