Reviews | Written by Alan Boon 28/01/2021


Returning after 2017’s Volume One, which dealt with the darker side of popular culture from the 1970s, Stephen Brotherstone and Dave Lawrence’s second treasure trove of half-remembered, never forgotten treats focuses squarely on the television of the 1980s, with the promise of a Volume Three to cover the rest of the decade’s ephemera following shortly in its wake.

The Scarred for Life crew mine the currently popular hauntology seam, investigating the cultural artefacts of the recent past, but not so recent that they’re exhaustively archived in the age of information. More specifically, hauntology deals with those things that leave a lasting impression for “they couldn’t have gotten away with that, could they?” reasons, and the gems contained within Scarred for Life’s pages – and Volume Two delivers up some shocking and evocative (“shockative”?) BBC children’s drama, the hard-hitting reality of Thatcher’s Britain, and the arrival of Channel 4, red triangle and all – do not disappoint in that regard.

The entries, split into loosely thematic chapters, are written in a conversational style, a world away from the academic dissertation such reminiscence can often veer into, and do not shy away from personal anecdotes to drive home just why these shows still have such a resonance with the authors, experiences that you would imagine are shared by many of those Mark Fisher dubbed the Haunted Generation.

There’s a comfort in looking back - especially at a time when there seems to be little to look forward to - even if the things that hang around, ghostlike, tend towards the darker fringes of our childhood viewing, and this absolute brick of a book will delight and fascinate those with even the most casual interest in how we used to live.

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