3. Council flat doors. As a child I never took time to try to understand what a council flat was, compared to any other flat or house. I just knew that my school friends homes didn’t look like mine. But dad kept it nice, it was small and safe. All of us would play out freely on our bikes. None of us were very popular at school, but we were all the same when we were on the estate.
I lived next door to another Lisa, so when friends from the estate knocked on our doors to come out to play, they’d ask for me, ‘Big Lisa’. I’ve always been tall, and I was the oldest one too.
The doors. First you had to get through the main door, the one everyone in the block shared. Then the metal lift doors, also everyones doors, although we didn’t own them. Then our own front doors, we didn’t own these either, these were all the same.
Everyone knew everyone. Some days I’d take the lift up to the top floor, it overlooked two graveyards. I could breathe up there. Most kids were scared of the graveyards, but I found them peaceful. I’d go there in my early teens and put blossom on as many graves as I could.
It was the ‘better’ estate in the area, the other one across the road was full of drugs and violence, life was harder for the people I knew there. They got into trouble at school, got into fights. Lots of old people lived on ours, and we’d knock on their doors for sweets.
When I’m in the area, I walk around the estate. It has clearly been neglected by the council for some considerable time for it to have gotten the way it is, so run down. The front door to our block is still the same, 35 years later. And the paint is peeling off all of the balconies.
Residents who had bought their homes were recently shocked to receive a bill for £23,000 per flat (and rising) to make up for years of neglect by the council. One person said that the way the council had handled the issue was akin to corporate bullies. Another said “As a collective of elderly, young and working class people trying to pay bills on a monthly basis, having costs rise by over double could well mean that many are made homeless or at the very least, critically impacted with the unjust costs”.