It was a crisp but sunny winter day as I found myself walking around this infill housing estate. It was built about ten years ago in a former industrial area close to the city. As I walked I found myself singing an old Pete Seeger song ‘Little Boxes’. Although I hadn’t heard the song for probably 50 years it suddenly leapt from the deep recesses of my subconscious.
“And they're all made out of ticky tacky and they all look just the same”
The estate looked like an abandoned film set. The carefully planned reserves were empty, sterile and unwelcoming. Was there any life behind the facades? The only signs of habitation were the cars. In fact the more I walked the more I wondered if the estate had actually been built for cars – with perhaps a room or two above where the drivers slept.
The modern estate was captivating in a way that only the truly ugly can be. I was, however, happy to finally escape this surreal place and walk just a street away into an area of dilapidated century old cottages and light industry. This was a more hospitable place, a place where people lived and worked, a place where people died and were remembered by their neighbours.