Luton.

john eden

male pale and stale
Luton is OK. I had a mate who lived there in the 1990s.

It was a bit rough but nothing like some of the worst bits of the North, Midlands etc. He lived in the shadow of the football stadium and down the road from the big asian area that Tommy Robinson gets so vexated about.

You really want some insight from @martin on this


My friend Neil grew up there and has good things to say about the place:
 

john eden

male pale and stale
I think Neil and Martin would probably agree with my impression that Luton was less ghettoised in the 80s and 90s than now and that this is probably down to a bunch of issues including the council's housing policies + the weird dialectic of increased focus on religion in the asian communities vs increased islamophobia generally.

Also a lot of deindustrialisation. The Luton van, for example was made in a factory in Luton that employed vast numbers of people until the mid 80s and then was repeatedly restructured and reorganised afaik.
 

john eden

male pale and stale
There was a lot of underpass / shopping centre / brutalist bus garage vibes that I'd say was worth a look.
 

IdleRich

IdleRich
Interesting to me how many of us mentioned the football team or stadium. In the 90s they were in the top division, then they fell right out of the football league, I wonder what effect that has on a town's identity. They are in the Championship now... just about.
 

john eden

male pale and stale
It's easy to paint Luton's muslims as a homgenous group of nutcases but I suspect it much more like Four Lions than anything.

I used to walk to school with this guy - we were in the same year:

He used to tell me about Palestine and stuff. But he was solidly anti-racist and got me to go to Anti-Apartheid things while we were six formers. Later on in London I'd bump into him at anti-fascist things like the annual set to with the NF on remembrance Sunday.

As far as I could tell it was always politics first religion second with him. These days he gets attacked by EDL types and also has to deal with idiot Islamists.
 

john eden

male pale and stale
Interesting to me how many of us mentioned the football team or stadium. In the 90s they were in the top division, then they fell right out of the football league, I wonder what effect that has on a town's identity. They are in the Championship now... just about.
Football's not my strong point but I guess the decline is probably down to a lack of investment in the place. Watford were the other big local team at school and they seem to have done alright.
 

IdleRich

IdleRich
Football's not my strong point but I guess the decline is probably down to a lack of investment in the place. Watford were the other big local team at school and they seem to have done alright.
I'm sure... I'm just wonder what it means for a town that in the 90s as soon as someone said Luton there was this association for half the country, which by the 2010s wouldn't really be there for people below a certain age. And of course the thing of having glamour teams coming to play, tv cameras and so on... and then nothing. I guess it's kinda like any business closing or failing or whatever but somehow different cos it's football and it has this emotion that you don't really get with a Rover factory or something.
 

john eden

male pale and stale
I think you're right Rich but I also think these things are linked.

The glamour of Luton for people with bazillions of pounds to invest in LFC probably wore off when thousands of people were forced on the dole, which will have coincided with less income for the local council, so the place would look more downtrodden...
 

IdleRich

IdleRich
Sorry yeah I wasn't really denying the causation you alluded too, I was just wondering about its effects, but yeah of course it all feeds into the same overall feeling... vicious circle I suppose is the trite description.
 

john eden

male pale and stale
Fair do's. And I think it's a great point about the civic pride and football, psychologically.

Worth remembering that "Tommy Robinson" named himself after a Luton FC top boy too, so there is a bit of the old fascist nostalgia for times gone by in there.

I guess economically it does have the airport and is commutable to London so not completely screwed.
 

IdleRich

IdleRich
Yep... the airport must be a big thing, I think they were doing it up last time I was there.
Fucking Yaxley-Lennon or whatever he's really called.
 

DannyL

Wild Horses
Hastings is the worst place I've been. Or Preston actually. Probably Preston. A lot of England is in a pitiful state though
I like Preston! I particularly liked the old market which made me think of the 70s. Not a sell to most people I admit.
 

DannyL

Wild Horses
Lancashire mill towns aren't really comparable, because the settings have better stonework. The north might appear grim, but a place like Burnley has a lot more soul than a heap like Luton. The fun facts i know about Hastings are Crowley's death and that David Tibet lives there. Never been.
There's a lot of interesting industrial history around, beautiful architecture and access to the countryside, though I don't know what's it like to live there. I've spent a bit of time in Oldham and Accrington, the former seemed very grim and had race-based social division absolutely baked in. The thing I liked about Accrington was the omnipresence of the countryside. It felt like I could see Pendle Hill from whereever I was.
 

DannyL

Wild Horses
Impossible for someone like Mvuent who grew up in a log cabin skinning rabbits to understand how cramped and claustrophobic England is. A sinking ship.
I hate those Crap Towns books but they do sort of speak a truth. London does seem to suck up all the air, money and youth.
 

DannyL

Wild Horses
.... and in the smaller towns, I think we all sense how the infrastructure and industry has been sold out from under us. Margate feels very much like this.
 

Leo

Well-known member
swung thru margate four or five years ago (after stopping by Brighton and Hastings...my UK hellhole excursion, it appears), seemed like it was being rebranded as a place for artists/hipsters. somewhat tattered, scruffy, worn around the edges, slightly druggy, Tracey emin, Pete Doherty, turner contemporary. 90-minutes from London by train, "shoreditch-by-the-sea".
 
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