THEY HAVE HEDGES - WE GET FENCES: A conversation about working class childhoods

This is a (slightly edited) transcript of a Twitter conversation which stemmed from the guest blog by @Rattlecans entitled Old Space Taken.  The conversation is about memories of living on council estates and anger at what's happened since...

THEY HAVE HEDGES - WE GET FENCES

Ian:                    This is good http://colouringinculture.org/blog/oldspacetaken

Stephen:            It's a powerful piece of writing by @rattlecans

Dee:                   brilliant and beautiful - reminds me of my own childhood - before Peckham became a gentrified wasteland of hipster cafes and roof top bars

Rattlecans:        Was your Mawe chucking pieces oot the windae at ye tae? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8A7SAPmcwXA

Dee:                   she used 2 shout out of window 2 come in 4 tea or tell us something we liked was on telly - and she sent us 2 neighbours 2 get a ciggie or sum milk or sugar -i used 2 play tennis on side of the pramsheds with the neighbours kids -now the flats we lived in go for £400,000 each

Rattlecans:        Pram sheds?

Dee:                   at the side of the flats was a little row of sheds allocated 2 the 2 stories above ground floof so that ppl cld put their prams in them they were built in the days when everyone had big prams so would have been difficult to get up the stairs - there was no lift

Rattlecans:        Mostly she just left us sleepin in oor pram in the corridor If we woke up and she never heard us, a neighbour wid open her door "Weans'up!"

Dee:                   ha! everyone used 2 wrap their babies up & put them in the pram & leave them in the gardens at the back of the flats -fresh air good 4 them

Rattlecans:        Ah We'd a lift. But oor HUGE pram, I call em tanks, was like 1cm too big at wheels to get thro flat door Solution? Gouged the door

Dee:                   ha! sounds good

Dee:                   the back of the sheds backed on2 the street -which when i was a kid was really quiet so we used 2 stand in the rd & hit the ball against it

Dee:                   what has been done to w/c communities - the destruction of w/c ways of living is one of the biggest crimes committed by neo liberalism -some thing has been lost that will be very difficult to reclaim - we have been schooled in the consumerism and individualism of the m/c & it is destroying us,w/c life was hard & we went without but there was community and solidarity and a sense of belonging as @rattlecans says there

Ian:                    All of this plus the ongoing destruction of the public sphere/postwar social settlement - we need to wake up to it all.

Dee:                   exactly! it is not just physical spaces that have been gentrified, political spaces have 2- the public shere is dominated by a m/c elite who have appropriated suffering of w/c 4 their own careerist ends,filtering w/c experience thru a m/c perspective & confining radical potential of the w/c 2 pages of the fucking guardian -no one asks me what its like to do a degree at oxford cos i didn't fucking go there -why do privately educated oxbridge grads get 2 talk about w/c experiences & write books about them- become an expert in them

Dee:                   were always ppl about -now we have been excluded from our spaces,our history and our heritage -there is plenty of class resentment but what is missing is class consciousness, class analysis - a framework within which to make sense of what has happened –

Stephen:            THEY pen us in like zoo animals; prisoners in fenced estates, THEY want us to rot in a hell of THEIR making or conform like serfs to money.

Rattlecans:        They pen themselves in like zoo animals too. Their streets are lonely, cold, green-lined deserts They have hedges We get fences

Ian:                    Council estates used to have hedges. Then came Right to Buy/deregulation and we were led to aspire for fences

Rattlecans:        That depends whit scheme. Think if it was schemes of houses wi back & front doors ye got a hedge,*mibbes* If scheme of flats, ye got spaces

Ian:                    True. Planning/infrastructure/different experiences of estates vary so much.

Ian:                    But the basics of your story - childhood, parents, community - fundamentally the same as mine on a estate in Lincolnshire #sharedhistories

Rattlecans:        When did you realise you were supposed to be ashamed?

Ian:                    Of coming from the estate? Never. Best thing that ever happened to me - shaped my life, attitude to society/politics, my interest in design

Rattlecans:        I never was ashamed, ever. But I knew I was supposed to be

Stephen:            Only people who should be ashamed are THEM - the elite & their apologists who've screwed communities!

Rattlecans:        Of course They should be ashamed for what they've done, what they've encouraged, how they speak to us, how they speak about us.  All of it

Dee:                   whenbringing my daughter up on council est on benefits, was not ashamed but was v aware ppl looked down on me and thought i was useless

…when bringing my daughter up on council est on benefits, was not ashamed but was v aware ppl looked down on me and thought i was useless Only people who should be ashamed are THEM - the elite & their apologists who've screwed communities! I never was ashamed, ever. But I knew I was supposed to be Of coming from the estate? Never. Best thing that ever happened to me - shaped my life, attitude to society/politics, my interest in design Of coming from the estate? Never. Best thing that ever happened to me - shaped my life, attitude to society/politics, my interest in design

Dee:                   nan lived on Aylesbury est,ground floor flat,had little garden in front- she used 2 sit in the sun on deck chair watching the traffic go by

Rattlecans:        She loved watching horse racing and watching the neighbours washing blowin in wind "Her sheets are getting a rerr wee blow the day!"

Dee:                   she was 79 years old when she moved onto the Aylesbury first time in her life she lived somewhere with an inside toilet and a bath

Rattlecans:        I so miss my gran Only thing she gave a damn about was us being well fed & safe

Dee:                   like most w/c people and that has been taken away from them now –

Rattlecans:        And for that loss, I blame my mum's generation AND oor schools Mawe's generation didnae value it, didnae fight tae keep it

Dee:                   I blame neo liberalism