Monday, October 15, 2018

CoHousing in Barnet

There is nothing like a large group of people moving simultaneously into a small neighbourhood to make you realise just how insignificant your feelings are in the greater scheme of things.
When this group of people chose this street to move into, their clever strategies worked out just how much collateral and social damage the project would do.
With natural wastage, the people who lived around the monstrous building would gradually disappear and the incoming culture would be able to settle indefinitely, aided by a battery of press officers and international interest in their social experiment. Those who remained would gradually come to accept the newcomers, one of the neighbours was told rathe patronisingly, because psychologists had worked this out in previous cases. Gradually, people in the small terraces have indeed sold up and gone away. This started during the hellish building works, six days a week and once even on a Sunday because they were 'behind schedule'.
The builders were rude, and involved in dangerous practices, despite their badges saying how fantastic they are (how very 2000s: the century of the fake). They regularly drove diggers the wrong way down this one-way street, often without a lookout. The lookout appeared after I'd witnessed an almost-accident and tweeted as much in exasperation; the response was to tweet that I am a 'scaremonger' (cheers!) and then to block me on Twitter. And the dangerous practices continued. Huge lorries parked on the pavement so that people with pushchairs and wheelchairs were forced to walk on the road, which is often unfortunately used as a rat-run. Of course, individuals with pushchairs and disabled people in wheelchairs don't count, because they are not part of a large community who feel their needs are more important than anyone else's.
As a person who lives opposite the gigantic windows, the scale of the architecture (while looking inoffensive from the street) appears from inside my house as though the development is actually about to march straight into my home, into my front bedroom. So I've stopped using that room.
Lastly: the architects built an entrance arch into the development that is too low for ambulances, fire engines and delivery vehicles. The former is a desperately important safety issue, and the latter, too, but for a different reason. Grocery delivery vehicles are unable to enter the settlement, so they park on the pavement of the houses opposite, often leaving their engines running. This street is too narrow to have vehicles parked on both sides, which is why they park on the pavements. But many of us have doors that open straight on to the street. So as well as pedestrians being unable to pass and sometimes almost being knocked over, as happened last week, it's sometimes impossible to get out of the house because a van is parked so close to the front door.
Is it pleasant having the exhaust from these vehicles pumping into the living room? No.
Is it pleasant hearing people's reactions after almost being knocked over? No.

It's early in the morning, and I'm sure this posting is full of mistakes. I'm on my way to work.
But there is a massive publicity push about this scheme today. This is the only avenue that I have to say how I feel about it- nobody ever considers the fact that there might be people shoved out and made to feel uncomfortable long-term by 'innovative' ideas like this.
I have also noticed that the street view of the estate never appears on the media, probably because it looks like Feltham Young Offender's Institution from our perspective. We don't get the balconies and the nasturtiums: we get the flat beige bricks, the corporate ironwork and the eff-off light-blocking height. Lucky us.


Friday, October 12, 2018

Wednesday, October 10, 2018


I was telling a bloke at work about how the T K Maxx House of Horrors Facebook postings make me laugh out loud on public transport, much to my great embarrassment, and he showed me a fading scar on his wrist, a T K Maxx injury from trying on an anorak with a zip that viciously injured him (but he didn't need to go to hospital).
Little bits of conversation in passing: these things brighten up the day.

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Problem-Solving Comics

This evening the Postgraduate students made comics to solve each other's problems. There is nothing quite like the quiet swish of pencils on cartridge paper and the feeling of concentration in a room.
I had to pilfer the table from next door, and they sat around it with crayons and pencils scattered about. At the end, they passed each other's comics on to each other; they were beautifully drawn and really well-conceived. The solutions were funny- and practical.
We folded up the table and went home.
That was a really nice way to spend an evening.

Low Self-Esteem

I have found that low self-esteem can be a blessing as much as a curse.
If you feel that you are completely at the bottom of the bed of a sea of uselessness, you can become completely fearless because you have absolutely nothing to lose.

Friday, October 05, 2018


Funny day, and  it has been an intense week of beginning teaching at various places, reading the obligatory crap detective novel-per-week, an uplifting read, The Hidden Life of Trees (tube journey book, which is absolutely amazing), and also No Irish-No Blacks-No Dogs by John Lydon, which has fixed me to the chair for the whole afternoon.
I thought I had lost the copy I had and so I re-ordered it; the new copy turned up halfway through the day. Still, you can never have enough copies, I guess.
Reliving punk's violence has given me nightmares, but it's important that people remember that it wasn't a musical style all on it's own that people were just playing at.
Music was our defence weapon against attack by everybody, not just the Teds and Skinheads, the Casuals and the Straights. The newspapers hated the punks, people in shops hated the punks, people on the bus hated us, people in the pub. It was no fun, but there was no alternative that any of us could see.
I am mostly writing about London but it could be about anywhere. So much is made of today's violent youth, but if young people don't feel cared about, respected or valued, then they become outlaws who make their own rules and run their lives according to those.
If people don't listen to you, you shout; and around the creative people clustered drug dealers, creeps, people who were just into violence for the sake of it and of course, the extreme politicos who wanted pet punks to deliver their messages for them.
Well, that's got that off my chest.

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Cuttings Conversation

A pile of press cuttings from the 1970s slithers around as I look for information for the chapter that I am writing. Have just emerged from a three-hour research zone and I'm shaking the dust out of my feathers.
It's so depressing to be reminded of the horrible things that the journalists wrote about bands back then. I'm only looking at stuff on X Ray Spex, The Slits, The Au Pairs,The Raincoats, The Mo-Dettes; but the sheer oldfashionedness of the times has come back and whupped me on the head like a baseball bat.
These guys didn't want anyone to succeed. The descriptions of the music are patronising, negative and apparently entirely aimed at showcasing the vocabularies of the writers. It's a miracle that any female bands managed to even get up on stage and play, let alone make albums and tour.
And there is a lot of stuff about female guitarists saying they don't need feminism because everything is equal now, and stuff like that.
I can remember feeling not that exactly, but that feminism seemed to be another set of rules (it was not uncommon for members of women's groups to tell you what you should/shouldn't be wearing or should/shouldn't be singing about back then in the dark ages).
I did think things needed to change: having a brother 18 months younger who seemed to have an entirely different set of expectations out of life, and wishing I could be a boy instead of me... a difficult one for a heterosexual woman to work out, and I still haven't got there.
Or rather, we still haven't got there. How naive to think that in my lifetime things might become equal! Prejudice has just become easier to hide, and feminism has become more glamorous and less didactic.
Revisiting punk is peculiar.
I am glad it is over; having been one has left a scar, or a tattoo, depending daily on whether it feels like a bad thing, or a good thing. I feel grateful to have been able to write about it, film it and talk about it, but I feel even more grateful for the life I've had after punk. It was a cruel subculture.

Hello Blog

Hello Blog, I like you best. You are not complicated.