Monday 6 March 2023

Jeremy Worman, "The Way to Hornsey Rise: An Autobiographical Novel"


Jeremy Worman has dropped out in Wales and squatted in London. He has a First in English from Birkbeck, University of London, where he was twice awarded the biennial ‘John Hay Lobban Prize for the most promising student of English Literature,’ an MA (Distinction) in Creative and Life Writing from Goldsmiths, University of London, an M.Litt. from Cambridge University and a PhD in Creative Writing from Goldsmiths where Blake Morrison was his supervisor. He taught English Literature to American BA students at Birkbeck for over twenty-five years. He has reviewed for The Observer, the Times Literary Supplement, The Spectator, the New Statesman and many other publications. He has published two collections of short stories with Cinnamon Press. The Way to Hornsey Rise: An Autobiographical Novel will be published by Holland Park Press on 23 March 2023. He lives in Hackney, London. His literary agent is Christopher Sinclair-Stevenson. His website is here

About The Way to Hornsey Rise: An Autobiographical Novel, by Jeremy Worman

This book explores how a privately educated schoolboy turns from his rural Surrey background to the squats, drugs and hippy scene of 1970s Hornsey Rise, North London, which was reputed to be the largest squat in Europe. Beginning with the author’s childhood, the work is also about his escape from the intense relationship with his alcoholic, charismatic and mentally unstable mother, of her lovers, and of the romantic relationships of the author.  The narrative investigates how a 1968-style vision of the world collapsed in the 1970s, and the implications this had for the author and many of his generation: a visionary countercultural world was not going to happen.  

You can see more details about The Way to Hornsey Rise on the publisher's website here. Below, you can read an excerpt from the book.

From The Way to Hornsey Rise: An Autobiographical Novel 

She stood in the middle of the room. ‘I don’t know how you ended up here.’ 

‘I didn’t want to live a Surrey sort of life anymore.’

Her gaze peeled off my squatting dreams and exposed my fears. How could I have any vision of my own if she did not approve it? Was my real terror not that I had rejected her but that she had rejected me? I saw this place through her eyes: the torn section of flock wallpaper around the chipped door; the semi repainted living room, in a special-offer Dulux Sage Green, from the hardware shop on Holloway Road; the loose floorboards; the stained carpet. 

Where’s the bathroom, darling?’

‘Up the stairs; first door on the right.’

What could I trust if she was not in my life?

Ma came back from the bathroom. ‘I forgot to give you the champagne; let’s have it now; it’s still quite chilled.’ She took it out of her Liberty-print bag. 

I got two glasses from the kitchen, rubbed them with the drying-up towel, and rushed back. She pushed out the cork, which bounced off the ceiling, and filled our glasses.

‘To your new life,’ she said. 

‘Smoked salmon and scrambled eggs for lunch.’ 

The stale smell of the flat followed me to the kitchen. How had I landed up here? Why did I want Ma to see this place? Was I trying to shock her? Was I saying, ‘Just look how much I have rejected your fucking pretentious Surrey world?’ Five minutes later I carried in two plates. 


We sat at the table and talked about family things, which seemed to come from a distant world. The champagne intensified my sense of disjuncture. 

‘We’re going to grow organic vegetables and sell them,’ I said.



‘How sweet.’

‘It’s not “sweet”; it’s changing the way we think about the city. Do you want to see the vegetable patch?’

‘I know what vegetable patches look like, darling.’ 

After lunch we looked out at the square.

‘Come home for a few months if you want.’

‘I like it here.’ 

‘Do you mind if I pop off? I’ll get a cab to Simpson’s; I need a new outfit for the autumn.’

‘If we walk to Archway Road, you’ll find one more easily.’

‘No. I feel quite safe. It’s not as rough as I expected; if I need help I’m sure the natives will be charming.’ She picked up her bag. ‘Thanks for showing me your experiment in living. Come and see me soon.’

‘I will.’

We kissed and she left. As the door shut, I felt terribly alone and wanted to hear her voice again. I recalled that day years ago at Miss Fish’s when she was late collecting me. I had been looking out for her at the small landing window and pictured her face but could no longer hear her voice. The silence made a void in which I was nothing. Then I saw her face again, and heard different voices speak from her mouth, but none of them was hers. It was as if she no longer existed. Perhaps she had found another voice with which to speak to a boy just like me ...

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