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Welcome to South London, to one of the nicest streets in one of London's vilest boroughs, a determined middle-class oasis of skips and bay trees, where Volvos sniff each others' bumpers and men called Giles live with women called Samantha. This is a satellite-dish-free zone of tall houses, standing shoulder to shoulder with big front doors, five floors apiece. Come inside, shut the door and smell the coffee: you could almost be in Kensington. This is where the actors, writers and media types live, where small children wearing smart uniforms and shoes in the shape of lightbulbs get ferried every day to schools that are t local. Some people are luckier than others; fortune smiles on some and gobs on the rest. Jo Metcalf (. 95) smokes and spies on the smug Cunninghams down the street as they play their bile-inducing game of happy families. Why is the grass greener on the other side of the fence? But happiness is a fragile thing and hairline cracks in a perfect world can become craters of misery. Each story is full of comic insight and realistic observation of contemporary British life and focuses on the very different lives of a set of characters living in the same street.
Jenny Eclair remains the sole female to win the prestigious Perrier Award for Comedy at the Edinburgh Festival. This is her first novel.