Spike the Gypsy is a man for all seasons, that is, except for August Bank Holiday weekends. He arrives in London from Kingston, Jamaica at the beginning of the 1950’s & lives in a slum tenement owned by the infamous landlord Peter Rachman at St Stephens Gardens in Ladbroke Grove. The Gypsy knows people from all over London: musicians from jazz clubs, high class society women, politicians for whom he performs small services, drug dealers and whores. He scrapes a living by selling marijuana, shoplifting, cat burglary and intermittent bouts of gambling.

In Groves And Along Lanes

Other prominent characters are the journalist Betty Hayes, who works on the Tottenham & Wood Green Journal; an ingenuous adolescent named Frank Stokes, who lives in Dalston, in Hackney; and a middle-aged man called Marvin Cohen, the owner of a second hand record shop in Lower Cut, Waterloo.

Their lives intertwine with that of the Gypsy.  Spanning more than 60 years, the book discusses the London riots that occur during the latter years of the 20th century. We learn the events that trigger the Notting Hill disturbances of the 1950s, the incidents that spark the Brixton and Tottenham riots during the 1980s and the curious riots of the early 21st century.

It is the tale of an immigrant, of all immigrants, who are invited to live in Britain and arrive here filled with hopes and dreams, only to encounter the hostile environment of a repressed and corrupt British soiciety. In Groves And Along Lanes details what a man has to do to survive in this bleak, dismal land.

Available in store & online.

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