I’d seen via Twitter that Gary Younge had written an essay about Stevenage, but it’s published by Granta and not available online unless you subscribe. So I was pleased to hear today that an abridged version has just been broadcast on Radio 4 in two fifteen minute chunks. It’s an interesting listen; Gary Younge is the same age as me, and grew up in the same town. His Mum, a main character in the essay, was (I think) one of the teachers at my school for a while.
From the BBC Website:
Gary Younge was brought up in Stevenage, a place which even his fellow residents were hard pushed to locate on a map. It was an engineered community but one in which he and his brothers and their single parent mum participated in whole-heartedly. Nonetheless despite having only spent six weeks there as a four year old, whenever he was asked where he was from, ‘home’ was Barbados. Gary Younge explores his relationship to the new town of Stevenage and how the place he grew up in has evolved.
Many of his recollections are similar to mine. You can listen to the two broadcasts on iPlayer here: episode one and episode two. But be quick about it: iPlayer only has them available for a few days.
[Update five years later – looks like they’re now available to listen to again.]
His comments towards the end about how Stevenage is now paint a worse picture than the one I see. I understand what he’s trying to say, but it’s not as hopeless as this extract makes it sound. Well, not in my experience anyway.