Back when I was growing up, my neighbourhood was a nice place to be. It wasn’t rich, it wasn’t poor, but it had decent folk from all nationalities and everyone got along. We had neighbourhood parties where we ate jerk chicken alongside cucumber sandwiches, we danced to reggae and roxy music, and people tended their gardens and waved to each other in the street.
Now litter blows from one end to the other. Gone are most of the neighbours that we used to know, their gardens replaced with ill-kept driveways. Teenagers patrol the streets on low-slung bicycles, casting about disdain and boredom in equal measures. Cars get scratched, police sirens and helicopters rule the night, and you know not to come home after dark. No one knows their neighbours anymore, and people hide behind their front doors.
Three incidents just this year alone – a violent alteration in the street outside my house in the early morning hours that led to a shooting, neighbourhood kids throwing stones at passers-by, and calling the police when I saw a man beat a woman to her knees in the street. I’ve just had enough of this place of no respect, where people and property mean naff all, and all you see is rubbish everywhere. Some neighbourhoods go up in London and some go down, and mine has been on a downward spiral for the last ten years. It may get better in forty years time, but it is going to get a lot worse first.
I hate not feeling safe in my home. I hate worrying about kids two doors down throwing stones at my cats (and at me!) when in the garden. I hate worrying about my mum being there on her own when I am not with her. I have to find somewhere new for all of us. No pressure then.
But where is nice? I want to feel safe and be surrounded by green trees and gardens. I want neighbours who say hello when you see them, who grow vegetables and cheerfully walk their dogs. I want a train line where the seat cushions are connected to the seats and people don’t spit on the platforms. I want a period house with some sort of period detail – like some tiles, or a fireplace. I want a shed full of plastic plant pots waiting to be filled and a garage for the car I don’t have. I want a grocer selling local produce. Heck – throw in a forge, I want that too. I want a nice restaurant and a pub with timbered low ceiling and real ale. I want to be able to get my mum and J’s mum sweet little cottages in the same street as mine, near yet far. I want some sort of local tea shop that sells cupcakes, and a nice bookshop. I want to be able to go for a walk without worrying about straying into the wrong areas. I want some peace, and no sirens.
I’m not sure this place exists but I will keep searching for it. And keep buying lottery scratch cards!