Saint Etienne – Home Counties

A young Turk who became an Old Master once said of the Georgian poets that they go out and write a pretty little poem about a pretty little thing on a pretty little theme. They meant it disparagingly, feeling that poetry should be concerned with the big issue of life. But there’s a parallel between the exquisite minimalism of much of such work and Saint Etienne’s approach on Home Counties – not least because both are preoccupied with what England might be.

Home Counties explores the liminal spaces left behind now that the idea of the Shires and the centre have been revealed to be the rhetorical constructs they always were. As with Saint Etienne’s best work, the whimsy is shot through with sharp observations and an acute eye for the tension between boring twenty-first century suburbia and the utopian dream of the post-war consensus that created the doughnut of new towns, municipal housing, and ring-roads that circle the dark maw of the capital.

A compelling mix of whimsy, satire, story-telling, and observation that proves that when you want to talk about the big things – and there’s nothing bigger than the nature of the nation post-Brexit and pre-Election – then the devil is always in the details. AJ

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