As much a personal story as the story of council estates. Fascinating reading and has got me thinking about my attitudes towards estates and the people that find themselves living in them.

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Dates 27 January 2013 – 12 February 2013
Time spent reading 6 hours, 15 minutes
Highlights 32
Comments 7
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Reputation is about class, I would argue, or at least about what we perceive to ‘have class’ or not, and class is built into our landscape in the form of housing.

Growing up, I could never understand how people – peers, parents – could be so keen on ignorance, to appear to prefer it to knowledge.

we live in a society that divides people up according to how much money they have to spend on shelter.

This book is an attempt to work out how much of the stubborn rigidity of the British class system is down to the fact that class is built into the physical landscape of the country.

‘You can go for days without speaking to any of your neighbours, but you know they’re there because their curtains move as you go past,’

Andrew Doran Andrew Doran

I don't think this is a phenomenon unique to council estates. It is also true of inner cities and suburbia, albeit less so. I think it is more related to modern life.

the paradox of council housing: that it exists at all in a society dedicated to the acquisition of wealth and property induces pride; that it has to exist at all, because that society excludes so many from the wealth and property that the rest of us enjoy, is a source of shame.

Quantity takes time and money, but quality takes more of both.

The long decline of the council house was triggered by nothing more solid than a change of perspective, from one that saw public housing as providing the nation with a collective legacy to one that saw it as a brief stop on the path towards acquiring an individual legacy.

the 1956 Housing Subsidy Act offered local authorities a greater government subsidy the higher they were prepared to build. Blocks of flats with four floors would bag the council £20 per flat, while blocks over six storeys would receive £38, with a further £1.15s. for every floor above the sixth.

There is one phrase in the English language that has come to be larded with even more negative meaning than ‘council estate’, and that is ‘tower block’.

Ronan Point now forms the layer of hardcore that lies under the runway of London City Airport.

Living in a high-rise block can be a great deal of fun when you have no children and you have the means to treat it like a penthouse suite. Ask anyone who has chosen to live in the Barbican complex of high-specification tower blocks in central London.

Andrew Doran Andrew Doran

I've worked right next to the Barbican for many years and fall strictly into the ugly side of the beautiful/ugly debate. I have never wanted to live there, even when I had no children.

The human animal does not appreciate being reduced to the scale of a termite.

You often hear the word ‘concrete’ next to ‘monstrosity’ when referring to British Modernist architecture.

there has been a need to find reasons for why poor people, when concentrated into a small space in flats and houses miles from the nearest job or bus or shop, behave in a way that shocks the people who put them there.

John Lydon rhymed ‘anarchy’ with ‘council tenancy’. No few-chah for you!

The Right to Buy was the Trojan horse of privatization: it made the paring-back of the welfare state seem attractive and reasonable, a proposition which, in turn, made those who remained reliant on the state seem weak.

The fact that you are living in a place populated almost exclusively by the poor makes those who are less poor unlikely to enter the area unless they have to, further entrenching its isolation and the stigma of living there.

the suggestion is that local authorities, which once housed half of us, will one day house none of us, and that we had better be prepared.

The prosperity of estates, populated by a single class of people doing a similar and rarely well-paid range of jobs, declines on the back of the quality and quantity of work offered to their populations.

The council tenants of today, in comparison with those of thirty, forty or fifty years ago, don’t see their home as a reward or a privilege, because it is precisely the opposite.

a boff

Andrew Doran Andrew Doran

I had completely forgotten about how much the word 'boffin' was used to describe clever people when I was at school.

I told my dad I was depressed. ‘But people like us don’t get depressed!’ he raged, depressed.

The project dwellers she speaks to are hunched with the stress of everyday existence in an area so crushed by disadvantage that the bodies of teenagers grow rapidly old in preference to drawing out a luckless life.

Andrew Doran Andrew Doran

This kind of metaphor stated as fact is a bit distracting. Bodies don't choose to grow old quickly as a preference.

If estates are to become something other than disregarded blots on the affluent home-owning landscape, then perhaps the only way of doing this is to bus children out of their estates into schools where they’ll meet people whose range of experience is wider, and where they might begin to form a view of a world that’s not only bigger, but more accessible, than they ever believed.

Andrew Doran Andrew Doran

One for @patrickphilpott. A couple of years ago I took part as a volunteer in one of his 'Dragons Den'-style days, hosted by Morgan Stanley. Scores of schoolchildren were brought together to meet people from outside their everyday world and to work with each other to create a pitch to a mock group of investors. They were also able to hear a couple of inspirational speeches from some fantastic speakers. Completely rewarding for both the children and the volunteers.

Hi-Tec trainers were only worn by kids whose mothers were really really poor

Andrew Doran Andrew Doran

I remember my dear dad getting some stick from his young and trendy children for buying these, the wrong brand of trainers.

In this part of east London – Tower Hamlets, a thickly populated inner-city borough that’s one of the five poorest in England – the flats squash up against each other like a bunch of toes trying to fit into winklepickers.

Too much noise grinds you down; too much quiet alerts you to your own isolation. Both are capable of making you feel lonely.

It’s a testament to the sheer horridness of many estates that their tenants have, like us, elected to have their own homes destroyed in order that something better might replace them

We don’t consider using the NHS or state schools to be a sign of dependence or weakness, but when it comes to state-provided housing, it seems that we simply can’t wait to see the back of such filthy parasitism.

Over the last twenty-five years, the right to housing has been supplanted by the Right to Buy housing. As a result of this, we have lost the desire to provide good homes for all, because we now know that only the deserving should have good homes.

But can you imagine giving away the NHS like that?

Andrew Doran Andrew Doran

Great point.