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Urban Grimshaw and The Shed Crew Paperback – 10 Apr 2006

4.4 out of 5 stars 64 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Sceptre; paperback / softback edition (10 April 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340837357
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340837351
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2.1 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 120,408 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

A dark and bitterly funny window on to a part of British life that most would rather sweep under the carpet . . . both inspiring and uplifting. (Daily Telegraph)

A compelling piece of ethnography, but it is also a deeply personal memoir . . . Moving but never sanctimonious, it is another City of God, this time for Britain rather than Brazil. (Observer)

A damnation of British society that is both violently shocking and laugh-out-loud funny, reading somewhere between a pre-teen Trainspotting and a northern-English equivalent of Larry Clark's Kids . . . a memoir with attitude (Big Issue)

Hare writes with laconic self-deprecation, black humour and a humane, ever present sense of railing against the system that failed Urban and his gang . . . exceptional (Metro)

An extraordinary account of the parallel world of missing children who live under our noses in every inner city, but officially don't exist. (Sunday Times)

A cross between a grim fairytale and a reflective, brazen anecdote . . . a marvellous read. (Alexander Masters, Daily Mail)

This is writing from the edge. Bernie Hare is a truly original voice. He deserves to be big - really big! (Fergal Keane)

'Don't miss Bernard Hare's astonishing account of his relationship with Urban Grimshaw and the Shed Crew' (Anne Fine, Books of the Year, Sunday Herald)

'As a record of contemporary Britain, it is searing...Hare is never sensationalist, sentimental, judgemental or self-regarding' (Sheena Joughin, Times Literary Supplement)

'It reads like a novel - a gripping, vivid, deeply affecting piece of work' (Decca Aitkenhead, New Statesman)

Unexpectedly powerful. ( Time Out Books of the Year)

Book Description

An eye-opening, jaw-dropping account of Britain's dispossessed youth and inner city wastelands by an insider, as funny and inspiring as it is heartbreaking. 'Another CITY OF GOD, this time for Britain rather than Brazil.' Observer

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
'Urban Grimshaw' is certainly unlike anything I've ever read before, a bizarre mixture of urban reportage, pseudo-mysticism , dodgy pub facts, drunken self-aggrandisement/self pity, misplaced self righteousness, and complete lies. Whether you're left or right wing, you'll find something to annoy you. It's certainly worth reading.

Anyway,questionable ideas in parentheses: Bernard Hare (or 'Chop' as he insists he's known as round the manor) is a disaffected, oft-unemployed drink and drug enthusiast in his mid 30s who's become disaffected because he is not allowed to be a social worker because of a minor criminal record (untrue) Thus he has sworn himself to bring down capitalism' (Though as he spends virtually the entire book drunk or drugged up in his council flat, or engaged in petty theft, it's difficult to understand exactly how this campaigns going)

He befriends glue sniffing oik Urban Grimshaw, a savant who declaims surrealist poetry whilst on the glue (The poetry, in fact, is clearly nicked from the Korova Milkbar scenes in 'A Clockwork Orange') Urban, and apparently all the children of Yorkshire, use glue to commune with the river god Bokono, who Hare later claims is also a god worshipped by Benin tribesmen (Bokononism is, in fact, a fictional religion invented by Kurt Vonnegut in the novel 'Cat's Cradle')

Chop joins Urbans gang of pre-teen delinquents and becomes involved with them over the next few years, managing to tech them to write suspiciously good poetry, (especially considering they're all illiterate) and gets them into Shakespeare and Robert Tressell. (again..
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Bernard “Chop” Hare is a disillusioned former social worker whose attempts to educate a gang of criminal youths gets him out of his depths.
Set in neglected council estates in Leeds, England, this book truthfully depicts the moral decay that beset 90s Britain.
Chop is closest to Urban Grimshaw, a reasonably intelligent but uneducated boy who thoughtlessly steals and is addicted to drugs. Despite a large age gap, the two strike a friendship built on a mutual distrust of the establishment.
It's enjoyable reading how the kids take to Chop's stories from history and amateur lessons, which he uses to try and broaden their minds. Yet for all his teachings, Chop is almost as reprehensible as the youths themselves. From shoplifting with Urban to taking drugs with Urban's mother, Chop is seldom more than passive towards hooliganism, drug-use, and theft.
But needs must in the Wild West of post-Thatcher Britain, or so goes the pretext. And whilst council estates undoubtedly suffered a hangover from the closure of industry, Chop offers the Tories' wrongs as a scapegoat for the abandonment of responsibility. It seems contradictory that someone so distrustful of the state should also have shunned personal discipline.
The stories about the adventures Chop has with the Shed Crew are where this book scores a point. The tales are told in an inimitable style that incites compassion, sympathy, and out-rage. Many working-class people in Britain will recognise the social disorder and crime depicted here as an all too real mise-en-scène.
That said, if you're sickened by repeated scenes of carnage on a Friday night, or by innocent people being beaten up for petty cash, you're unlikely to find this a heart-warming book. I walked out with a greater understanding of troubled youths' potentials. But I was not convinced anything good had resulted from Chop's efforts beyond their worth as a reasonably entertaining story.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Book is a recommended read for anyone, especially sneering types lacking in empathy who find it so easy to dismiss the northern underclass.
This book is, unfortunately, the future for a lot of northern towns. When we stopped actually making things in this country we lit the fuse on this time bomb.

Even if you just read it as a laugh rather than any kind of social commentary you will still end up taking a more human view of the
scruffy urchins you flinch away from in city centres and tut about through the windows of a mid priced european car.

There are funny and disquieting moments, a couple of which feel a bit contrived.
I can forgive him the odd bit of magical surrealism to break up the unrelenting grimmness.
The (possibly unreliable) narrator doesnt soft soap much, including himself. I suppose if you play in the lavatory, you get sh1t on your hands.

My copy was £2.81 delivered, and is in excellent condition.
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What originally attracted me to this book was that it's a true story, written from first person perspective, about a subject really close to my heart... young people growing up in a tough northern city.

The author, Chop as he is commonly known, describes life in Leeds' East End Park by following the antics of a bunch of out of control kids who live in a shed. As a writer Chop has a down-to-earth style that captures people and places well, however, some of the dialogue feels a bit false with many lines coming across as cheesier than your average soap opera.

I hesitate to say that I was shocked by the book but I think that I was. I wasn't shocked by any of the descriptions of what the kids were getting up to, I was shocked at Chop's own lack of control. As a 'grown up' hanging out with teenagers his fatalistic spiral down into his own degradation and hopelessness is at times quite alarming. Before the end of the book you'll be asking some pretty major questions about how good old Blighty became so grim.
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