The View From A Council Estate: Do As You're Told, You Wasters


Welcome to The View From A Council Estate

Every Sunday, I'll be breaking down the big news stories. And I'll also be sorting through other news. The stuff that maybe hasn't made the headlines. But I'll show you how it affects people on council estates like mine across the UK. 

Be warned: no filter, here. This is me, writing how I speak in everyday life. So expect a bit of swearing. There'll be a bit of a laugh (hopefully). But there'll also be plenty of takes that you won't find elsewhere.

Remember: this article is as much about you as it is me and my estate. So give your views on social media. Use #TheViewFromACouncilEstate.

This week is all about 'rules'. Those things powerful people tell us we have to follow. But then, those powerful people don't bother following them, themselves.

Let's go.

Priti Patel: grassing up the pig-fuckers of Chipping Norton

Priti Patel is the home secretary in government. She's basically responsible for laws and rules across the UK. Patel is in charge of things like policing and immigration. She's the one Skepta dropped a photo of on Twitter without comment:

He could have mentioned Patel's support for racist policies. Or her deporting 20 people to Jamaica in February. Skepta rightly called politics "bullshit". Shame he doesn't give that much of a fuck to try and do anything about it. Being worth millions might have a bit to do with it.

Back to Patel. This week she told us she would snitch on her neighbours if they broke coronavirus rules:

Some of her actual neighbours were a bit pissed with what she said (KLAXON! Don't click that link! Daily Mail alert!). 

Now, I could see how Patel's idea of grassing up coronavirus rule-breakers could work in middle class suburbs. You know the ones:
  • Every street has its own Neighbourhood Watch Black Ops Regiment.
  • Wealthy 'yummy mummies' and 'stay-at-home daddies' all meet for soya milk crapafrapuccinos every Wednesday morning.
  • They compare notes on how Tarquindestinymonkeypuzzle and Pixieautumnalwindchime are getting on at the 'Chipping Norton Independent School for the Bulging Bank Balances'. 
(Question: is there really a foodbank in Chipping Norton? Really? Or was David Cameron actually helping at the charity ASS-DIP - 'Action to Stop Sexually-transmitted Diseases In Pigs'?).

(Former prime minister Cameron allegedly face-fucked a dead pig, if you didn't know. Whether the pig spat or swallowed is unknown). 

Sorry. Got sidetracked there. 

Chris Evans' cock

Back to Pixieautumnalwindchime, and this is what actually happens on these middle class streets:
  • The yummy mummies and stay-at-home daddies go back to their detached, gated houses.
  • They slag off the other parents and their children.
  • A cement mixer's worth of Chablis is necked; tranqs are double-dropped; nanny puts their children to bed (or at least they think they're in bed - they haven't seen them since 25 June) and robotic missionary sex is had while daddy thinks of Sebastian at the office and mummy can't get Chris Evans' small-but-perfectly-formed cock out of her head.
Prime territory for getting one-up on your 'that little bit richer' neighbours. How dare they have 15 people from three households round for fish and veg on toast ('canapes', if you prefer) without inviting us?!?

Hope you liked my stereotyping, there. Fuckeries, isn't it? Getting labels dropped on you because of your social class:

Keep off the grass

Sadly for Patel, she clearly hasn't stepped foot on a council estate in a long time. Or ever. Because round here, there's an unwritten code:
You. Don't. Grass. Anyone. Up. To. The. Feds. Social Services. Or. Council. 
Never. Doesn't happen. Unless your 'fat old racist man' I mentioned in my previous article. Yet us lot on council estates are supposed to be the socially backward. We're trouble-making wasters. And we don't care about other people and society. 

Wrong. We may row with each other, gossip about each other and moan about what so-and-so did last week. But we also understand class solidarity. Two concepts, merged into one - and neither being things Patel or the pig-fucking Chablis addicts of Chipping Norton will ever 'get'. 

So, Patel thinks we should grass on our neighbours. I can tell you now that won't happen here. That's us breaking the rules, then - clearly.

Of course, there are odd exceptions to this unwritten council estate rule of NO SHITTING ON YOUR OWN DOORSTEP. And a couple of examples were on TV this week.

Council Estate Britain: C4 does trash TV better than Channel 5

Hands up if you watched Council Estate Britain on Channel 4 on Thursday 17 September? Put your other hand up if, like me, you shouted 'fucking bastards!' a few times? Keep your hands up if you then had to apologise for the language to your 14-year-old step-son?

First off, we had the usual moaning about "fly-tipping":


Then, we had a 'working-class' person moaning about other 'working-class' people on the estate:


Let's cut to the chase. 

We're back to people not following what other people say are the 'rules'. We shouldn't dump our rubbish. And we should keep communal areas tidy. Except, of course, that's not real life.

Fly-tipping

The housing officer on the show lives in one world. It's one where she probably drives a car. So she can take her worn mattress to a local tip. Or she can afford the £25 Southwark Council charge to take it away. 

People like us live in another world. We don't drive. So, we could take our worn mattress by bus to the tip. Yeah, right. Like that's possible. Have you seen the buses in south London? Or, we could pay the £36 our council charges. That's about a quarter of what some disabled people get on Universal Credit a week.

The other option is we leave our worn mattress in our garden. And then, our housing association and/or council come round and have a go at us for not keeping our property tidy. Of course, it's our fault. Wasting our benefit money on new mattresses. We'll be buying a flat screen TV, next. 

Do you see the problem? When you're poor on a council estate, fly-tipping is often the only option. But if you have a better idea, then feel free to use #TheViewFromACouncilEstate and tell me on Twitter.

Dirty communal areas

"In the good old days" was basically what the unhappy woman was saying. She clearly thinks the 'quality' of council estate residents has gone down. This seems to be because communal areas are now messy. Nothing to do with council cuts to estate services over the years. Obviously. On our estate, we used to have two caretakers. Now we only have one. 

The dirty stairwells don't have anything to do with time poverty, either. Or the forced rise in employment over several decades for people with children. 'Forced' because the right to social security as a parent has been cut, cut and cut some more. Before 2008, a lone parent would get social security for a child up until their 16th birthday. By 2017, the limit had been reduced to the age of three.

So, clearly this woman thinks that people should go out to work; battle the welfare system; struggle day in, day out to meets life's basic needs and sweep the fucking stairs, too - when it's the council's job, anyway. 

But overall, what both these examples show is classic 'divide and conquer' of the working class. 

Divide and conquer

Both the housing officer and the resident are working class. But they somehow think they're better than other working-class people: the housing officer who thinks fly-tippers are "selfish"; the resident who's annoyed with people not sweeping the stairs. 

Welcome to capitalism, people. I wrote for The Canary that the system makes us all:
‘aspire’ for this, ‘strive’ towards that, under the illusion that one day we too may have power, wealth, and luxury. 
It makes us fight each other for jobs. Makes us jealous when someone has more money or possessions than us. Encourages people in the same class to turn their noses up at each other. And makes us blame each other when it all goes wrong. Because we're constantly told the more we own and the more important jobs we have - the better we are as humans. And we can have power and freedom like the richest people. But as I said for The Canary:
Of course, we never get any of it. But it keeps us working, keeps society’s cogs turning, and keeps the wealth flowing to those at the top.

And let's face it. The system keeps getting harder to live under every day. Especially if you're on a council estate.

Water: capitalism's greatest con yet

So, this dropped through our letterbox this week:


Around three years ago, our estate's social housing landlord included water rates in our rent. Then, Thames Water pulled the plug on this deal. We went to a fixed charge bill. Now, it is forcing us to have water meters.

"Save money", Thames Water cries! But is this true? 

Fixed water bills are based on the size of your home. Who knew? I didn't. MoneySavingExpert said the "killer rule" for water use is:
If there are more bedrooms in your home than people, or the same number, check out getting a meter.
Here's the problem. That "rule" works if you live in a middle class house. One where you drink more Chablis than water. Where Tarquindestinymonkeypuzzle and Pixieautumnalwindchime use the three spare bedrooms as 'arts and crafts' hobby lounges. And where your nanny MUST bring their own drinks in. Meters won't always work on a council estate. Because many of us are overcrowded. 

One family I know has one adult and three children to two bedrooms. Another family has four adults to three bedrooms. We have two adults (and a 14-year-old who may as well be an adult) to two bedrooms. So, will water meters save us money?

Money for nothing

I used the Consumer Council for Water's (CCW) usage calculator for our house. At the minute, we pay a fixed charge of £451 a year (£37.58 a month) to Thames Water. But, surprise sur-fucking-prise - that looks like it's about to go up by at least £5 a month. And that's me putting in just a basic usage on the calculator:

If our bill will increase, you can sure as hell bet the family of four adults in three bedrooms will. So, I did the water calculator with them. 

Currently, they pay around £540 a year (£45 a month), fixed. But using the calculator their bill will now be £645 a year. That's an increase of £12 a month. The mother of the household told me:
I think it's disgraceful. We pay more than we used to, anyway - and you never get a straight answer as to why it's now dearer to pay the water company direct than when we paid it to the housing association.  It's a struggle to pay everything, anyway. £12 more a month? I just don't know. Plus, we're having to have an extra walk in shower put in, as my disabled husband can't get upstairs anymore. So, we're now going to have to pay even more.

The rich get richer...

"Save water!" Thames Water also screams at us. Never mind the fact that rich people generally use more water than poor people. We still actually pay more for it than they do. Is your water company forcing you to have a meter? Tell me about it on Twitter. Use #TheViewFromACouncilEstate.

For our estate, this is money-making classism from Thames Water. I'm guessing we should shower less and not wash our clothes regularly. But hey! We live on a council estate. So we're stinky. We dress in Primark and BooHoo shit. Special Brew for us, Coke for the kids - not water. Best keep to those class 'rules' we're supposed to live by. 

So, our society is driven by rules. Some are set by the government. Others are ones that are just there, unwritten. But in the end, us poor people are the ones hit hardest by them. While the rich often have it easy. If only Skepta, coronavirus grassers, the people on Council Estate Britain and fat old racist man would think about this for a minute, hey?

I ain't even got the time... 

To talk about Patel (again) saying large firms should randomly drug test staff for Class A's like coke:

Where to begin?

I haven't got time to talk about former Labour Party deputy leader Tom Watson exposing himself (not like Chris Evans) (thank god) as an absolute paigon:
Nor have I got time to talk about London mayor Sadiq Khan stalling a potential lockdown in the capital while our kids are still forced to go to school. Wealth before health, anyone?

And I certainly haven't got time to mention Wills and Kate visiting a Jobcentre:

Not sure what the fuss was about. If ever there was a pair of lazy scroungers, living off the state and who needed to get jobs - it's that couple of wankers. 

I hope this week's The View From A Council Estate made you laugh/think/offended/sad.

Until next Sunday, take it easy.  

Oh, and if you want to support me writing this (I'm doing it for free) then you can donate via PayPal below. Much respect.

Comments

  1. I like to think I have a lot of empathy and understanding for people who live in different situations from my own but there were things in your article today that I simply hadn't thought of before. I'd been smugly glad that having a water meter saved us money - didn't occur to me that others were therefore paying more. Neither had I thought properly about the difficulties of accessing a tip if you didn't have a car ... thank you for opening my eyes.

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  2. This is a great article! I've been on both sides of the coin. I've lived in North London, working in the City and spending time with people with eye-watering wealth. I've lived in the countryside with cricket teams and old money (the political debates I got in were as expected) and I've lived in normal towns pottering along. I currently am on a council estate after having to go homeless and was rehoused in a building that looks exactly like the one in your picture. When I first saw the new place, I was scared and almost ashamed. I didn't have a choice as to where I was going to go. I saw the grubby lift and piled up bins. Cars crammed into a tiny car park and playground that I imagined 'yobs' hung around in. There were a couple of kids smoking weed and some man tinkering with cars. Washing slung about everywhere, over balconies that people smoked over and shouted their kids from. I locked all my doors and chained each night. I had no concept of the place. As I settled in, I too hung my washing over the balconies. There is nowhere else to hang it and you might bump into someone or catch an ariel view of something happening! The neighbours are lovely, respectful and the sense of community is second to none. The playground is like something from a Shirley Hughes book, filled with all ethnicities and full of kids playing from the second the school's kick out to the second the street lights go on. The knocks on the door asking for my daughter to come out on her roller skates are so constant that I never see her! I've had to buy in iced pops and squash for the groups that need a play-break. I've lived alone (co-parenting with my daughter's dad) and yet I'm never, ever lonely. There's a lady opposite named 'Mrs Smokes' who we worry about if we haven't seen her. Her son collects her on a Sunday afternoon and she's comes out for a fag every half hour. She can see us too. Everyone knows everyone is okay. The car-tinkering guys I have noticed seem to repeatedly wash the same car (how the paint survives is beyond me!) and apart from the guy opposite who plays his music at a deafening level on the odd occasion, it's no trouble - I've seen far, far more drugs taken at wealthy parties. Let's face it, I was stoned most days during my latter teenage years, so who am I to judge? The best thing is that nobody wants anything from you. Nobody has anything, so relationships are genuine. If there's a problem, I can talk to my neighbours - in North London I shared a front door for six years and saw them twice! There is no question that I'm the happiest I've been for years on my council estate. I regret my ignorance and snobbery. I regret that I thought that channel 4 represented council estate life fairly accurately and I regret not inviting my friends to my house sooner, because I knew what they saw on first inspection.

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