If you lived the majority of your teenage years in the late seventies and early eighties, then Another Plant: A Teenager in Suburbia by Nothing But the Girl singer Tracey Thorn will certainly resonate. Even more so, if you grew up in Green Belt London.
In a world where nothing ever happens, the coach doesn’t arrive and you go shopping and buy nothing, on the surface this might seem like a boring proposition for a biographical novel. But Tracey’s diaries from these times are a fascinating insight into growing up as a teenager in Brookmans Park where she returns to some thirty year’s later to see what it was really all about. A typical cynical, bored teenager at war with her parents, the only pleasures came from watching the tv (of which there are lists of everything that she watched at the time), ‘getting off’ with boys, house parties and the all important Meaningful Conversations. There are the weekly discos, the shopping trips to London and the emergence of female pop icons, punk and a whole new future for Tracey.
Her aspirational parents bought the house having both moved from central London as the chance to better themselves and their family and Thorn reconsiders the Green Belt post-war dream so many artists have mocked, and yet so many artists have come from. The diary, which she began in 1975 when she was 13, is part memoir, part anthropology and swaps between the 1970s and 2016 when she made the journey back to Brookmans Park. A short, witty and insightful read.