class / reading / urban

“class is built into the physical landscape of the country” (18)

From Estates: An intimate history, by Lynsey Hanley, 2007:

“It’s not something you think about when you’re growing up. Wow, I’m really alienated. My school is suffering from its single-class intake. What this estate needs is a decent public-transport infrastructure….

Council estates are nothing to be scared of, unless you are frightened of inequality. They are a physical reminder that we live in a society that divides people up according to how much money they have to spend on shelter.” (5)

“Poor taste, bad grammar, the betrayal of family history beyond that which is conveniently aspirational: all these traits are now deemed ‘council estate behaviour'” [in Australia: houso]…. used as a fun insult by those who have grown tired of disguising their snobbery.” (10)

“The fear and hatred of the impoverished…. has existed since ordinary people were first permitted to leave the slums and have their own little patch of pleasant land. Only the rich, it seems, are permitted to nibble away at the green belt, with land-greedy ‘executive estates’….The regeneration and rebuilding of once-coveted housing estates, on the other hand, is a waste of taxpayers’ money – because ‘they’ – the dregs, the scum – will only go and have more babies, smoke more fags, fry more chips and set fire to the whole damn place when the lit match hits their shellsuit.” (11)

“When a small child died after falling of the top-floor ‘access deck’ of one of the Crescents in 1974, families decamped to the outskirts…Manchester’s city council… began letting the flats to an explosive mixture of young single people, the elderly and eventually, the homeless. Then the 24-hour party people moved in: self-imagined bohemians, squatters, anarchists, DJs, musicians, with a raggle-taggle army of drug users and hangers-on bringing up the rear….That must have been great, if you weren’t over forty or on Temazapam for medical, as opposed to recreational, reasons.” (131)

The wall is about not knowing what is out there, or believing that what is out there is either entirely irrelevant to your life, or so complicated that it would go right over your head if you made any attempt to understand it….Here’s an example that might illustrate better what I mean. The first time I saw a broadsheet newspaper, when I was about seventeen, sitting in the upstairs library of my sixth-form college, I thought it was an obscure subscription service for professors. It was The Guardian. I never for a moment imagined that I – armed with seven grade-A GCSEs and a shelf full of books at home – would ever be able to read it or understand it. It wasn’t for me.” (153)


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