Friday, 18 September 2009

Ballardian Ground Zero: J.G. Ballard's House in Shepperton

Above is J.G. Ballard's semi (on the right) in Shepperton, where he lived since 1960 nearly up to his death in April, 2009. Here he brought up his three children as a single parent (his wife died in 1964) and of course wrote most of his short stories and all of his novels. Here in the everyday suburbs, his middle class neighbours probably oblivious to his literary importance, lived an author who has been compared to such masters of visionary writing as Jorge Luis Borges, Franz Kafka and H.G. Wells. Ballard is like the 18th Century poet and artist William Blake, who lived an obscure domestic life in London but saw angels in the trees of Poplar.
I took these photographs in late July nearly four months after J.G's death, (I live nearby across the Thames in Walton-see my blog postings here and here) and except for the lawn being cut and the net curtains on the top floor drawn back, the house has not changed; his car is still in the drive, nor has the house been put up for sale. As far as I know it's still the same as I write this in September-my brother went past on one of his runs a couple of weeks ago. It was sad (even rather ghostly) standing here for a moment, gazing at this abode of the accumulated imagination, now a mere shell, albeit with its surface details still intact, with its guiding light flown forever.
At the end of J.G's road is the M3 motorway, constructed in the early 70's. At the same time in the house above he was writing Crash. J.G. Ballard mapped out (almost as if sprung from his own imagination) the disturbing and ambiguous terrain we were creating all around us, to the point where we now live in a Ballardian world.

1 comment:

C.G Harry said...

I always wanted to see where the master lived. The house should be turned into a suburban museum... that would be Ballardian. Is that really his car? Perhaps it sits waiting for Vaughan to emerge and take it. Thanks for posting the pics.