British social history

Thugs in drape jackets: when the Teddy Boys ruled the roost

In the wake of wars, youth cults spring up, those too young to have fought behaving in a way to scandalise those who did. The Bright Young People were the younger siblings of those who perished, battalion by battalion, on the Western Front. (Come to that, it was after the end of the Peloponnesian War that Socrates’s corruption of the youth became intolerable to Athens.) So when Max Décharné describes the Teddy Boys as Britain’s first youth counterculture, what he means is that they were Britain’s first working-class youth counterculture. The Notting Hill riots of 1958 were largely blamed on Teddy Boys, possibly incited by Oswald Mosley’s sons  Décharné sketches

Is Margaret Thatcher ultimately to blame for the current social housing crisis?

By the time she was 25, the journalist and broadcaster Kieran Yates had lived in almost as many houses. Having rented for more than a decade, I feel her pain. I’ve lived in flats that made me physically unwell (mould has a lot to answer for) and survived housemates whose approach to kitchen hygiene made every day a salmonella minefield. I would visit a former boyfriend whose bedroom was, essentially, a glorified crawl space in a cold artists’ warehouse. He was 6ft 6in and couldn’t even kneel up in it, but, aged 24, I thought it was cool. Now I see it for what it was: an indictment of London’s