“I can’t help thinking, that young people don’t riot any more. They should be setting fire to cars and looting supermarkets.”

I am very disturbed by the large distribution of wealth that has happened against the young. And particularly against the young who don’t have any relatives with property to leave them money. An entire social class is being created that is being denied access to property. The drawbridges have lifted.

Dr John Muellbauer, professor of economics at Oxford University, 2007

Housebuilders are not building enough houses, and the proportion of people owning their own homes has been falling since 2007. Hidden favelas are growing up in suburbs such as Newham and Southall, with unauthorised developments in back gardens and flats occupied at many times the levels for which they were designed. 

Rowan Moore, journalist, 2004

I can’t help thinking, that young people don’t riot any more. They should be setting fire to cars and looting supermarkets. They’re being robbed blind, and what have they got to lose? A 30-year-mortgage on an ex-council flat they bought with a friend on a mortgage of five times their salary? A lifetime of lining the pocket of a property investor or funding the round-the-world cruises of a pensioner?

Carole Cadwalladr, journalist, 2007

Fatman’s got something to sell
To the capitol’s homeless
At the Crossroads Motel
For the no-fixed-abodeless

Where you can live life in style
You can sleep in a closet
And if you flash him a smile
He’ll take your teeth as deposit

There’s bats in the belfry
The windows are jammed
The toilets ain’t healthy
And he don’t give a damn

He just chuckles and smiles
Laughs like a madman
Born again Rachman
Here comes Sheriff Fatman

Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine, 1987

Who could possibly survive the bedsit outhouses off Vincent Road, West Green?


At the beginning of the 21st Century when I rather naively set about looking for a cheap one bedroom flat in Tottenham. I remember visiting Star Estates on West Green Road, who took me around the back of their building into a courtyard, across which was strewn old bits of carpet and masonry. At the back of the courtyard, with a beautiful view of said detritus, were what I can only describe as a concrete shelter, which had been divided into two or three flats and bedsits.

The bedsit offered to me, the roof of which you can see at the top of the abovementioned picture, covered by foliage, was glum inside. A family clearly lived in it, as there were children’s toys on the floor, next to the mattress, which sat on the floor. There was a leaking roof. The window of the bedsit faced a wall, which jutted out from the concrete shelter, and met the bedsit at an acute angle, meaning that there was a permanent gloom in the room. I was plagued by demons as I considered not just me living there but that a family actually did live there, and I considered the enormous personal and emotional resources that one would need to avoid falling into a pit of despair to match the physical pit of despair that was being rented out at about four to give hundred pounds a month.


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