A safety net that served me well
The man behind the mic
Igrew up in a working class house; a council house, a safety net for those that could not pay the rents in the private sector, your affordable piece of real estate, that you could treat as your own.
We had many of these houses and I lost count of the times I got covered in gloop, scraping wood chip wallpaper from the walls. But those walls were our walls, part of our little castle.
We only ever read the Daily Mirror and only ever voted Labour; rich people voted Tory apparently, and we were far from rich.
My father was constantly in and out of work and we depended on the welfare state to survive, but we always paid the rent.
A little was put away each week alongside the money for the electric, gas and food, but the rent came first, keeping a roof over your head was always the priority.
From a young age I knew we were on the bottom rung of the ladder and I used to look at the Ford Cortina on my best mates’ drive and wonder how you could possibly earn enough to buy one of those.
He had Subbuteo, a proper cricket bat and an Atari; mine were not envious eyes though, instead, I was spurred on, determined to achieve, to do better.
Today I own my own home, I have a Dyson vacuum cleaner, a wood burning stove and a Nutri Bullet, all things, according to a new survey, that make me middle class.
I don’t apologise for that, it was a long journey from there to here, full of hard work, early mornings and risk. I have taken chances, seized on opportunities and been blessed with the odd bit of good fortune. Anybody, with the right attitude could have done the same.
My upbringing and my life experiences have determined the person I am today; part socialist, part Tory, part Lib Dem with a bit of green thrown in for good measure.
But without the security of our council house, as a child, I am not sure my story would be such a positive one.
I don’t think my parents ever dreamed of owning a house when I was growing up, but ironically, my mum did eventually buy her own home under Maggie Thatcher’s right to buy scheme; she may have hated the women and her politics, but like many others, she knew a good deal when she saw one.
That decision to sell off council houses (and not replace them) may have made financial sense for many but it has left countless others without proper, affordable housing and robs them of that secure, solid base, on which to build their dreams.
That lack of housing is part of the reason why Peterborough City council is being forced to spend over a million pounds on housing the homeless in various Travelodges; I know they have king size beds these days and a decent bacon and egg in a morning, but just think of what else that money could have been spent on.
Surely society has to have a better safety net in place for those that need help the most and isn’t the answer staring everyone in the face.
As a boy who grew up in one, and prospered because of it, I advocate the return of the council house as a cure for our housing problems.
Now that’s “Travelogical.”