Friday, 23 October 2015

Utopia on Trial

Next month, I shall be at the event below, talking about how postwar council estates were set up to fail because they were 'utopian':

Utopias! Experiments in perfection conference, 12 November, Letchworth Garden City

The 2015 Conference of the University of Hertfordshire's Social Science, Arts and Humanities Research Institute (SSAHRI)

Spirella Ballroom
Bridge Road, Letchworth Garden City, Hertfordshire, SG6 4ET
10.30am-5pm, 12th November 2015
(followed by a public lecture and reception)

This year's SSAHRI conference, organised by colleagues at the University of Hertfordshire and the University of Lincoln, and very kindly supported by the Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation, is on the theme of utopias.

It is very appropriate that the conference will be taking place in Letchworth, the world's first Garden City – and one of the first practical experiments in Utopianism. The conference is exploring the concept of Utopia – we will be looking at utopias from all sorts of angles: social, economic, educational, environmental, literary, cultural, aesthetic and philosophical to name a few.

The conference Keynote speech will be delivered by distinguished architectural historian of the 20th century, Professor Alan Powers. In other plenary and panel sessions we expect to range across some diverse and fascinating utopian themes including utopian politics, ideas about "The Ideal City"; Utopian visionaries; the way Utopia has been expressed in Garden Cities, New Towns and planned estates in the UK; how Utopianism has sometimes shaded into 'dystopia'; Utopianism as a social and economic vision for the future; and literary visions of Utopia.

Free. All welcome.


PROGRAMME – 12 November 2015

Tea/coffee/biscuits/fruit from 9.30am

Morning sessions chair: Professor Jonathan Morris

Session 1: Situating utopias 
10.30 Welcome - John Lewis LHF 
10.40 Introduction to SSAHRI conference - Professor John Senior, UH 
10.45 Keynote lecture – Professor Alan Powers - Milton Keynes or Civilia? Real and imagined utopia of the Pop period 
11.35 Q and A with speaker 

Session 2: Exploring utopian places - design, planning and architecture 
11.45 Mr. David Ames, LHF: Letchworth - the first garden city utopia? 
12.00 Dr. Daniel Marques Sampaio: Canary Wharf and Greenwich Peninsula: Reflections on the Utopias of Turbo Capitalism 
12.15 Dr. Paul Cureton: Garden City Utopias & Everyday Life: exploring the spatial accessibility of Welwyn Garden City 
12.30 Eva Sopeoglou: Utopia 'outside': exploring architectural approaches 
12.45 Dr. Susan Parham: Utopias, food and the radical tradition 
13.00 Dr. Ian Waites: A paradise, what an idea! The postwar council estate and 'Utopia' 

13.15 Buffet lunch

Afternoon sessions chair: Dr Steven Adams 

Session 3: Considering utopian ideas - health, place, work, gender and beyond 
14.00 Dr. Pat Simpson: Prince Peter Kropotkin: Anarchism, eugenics and the utopian ideal of Letchworth Garden City 
14.15 Dr. Steve Shelley: Multiple Utopias when exploring the future of work and the environment 
14.30 Professor Ursula Huws: When Adam blogs: Cultural work and the gender division of labour in Utopia 
14.45 Dr. Marta Rabikowska: Community Utopia and Agonism: The role of multiplicity and embodiment in building community relations in a context of participatory arts in superdiverse community 
15.00 Dr. Chamu Kuppuswamy: Urban Commons: Utopian idea or the future? 
15.15 Q and A 

15.40 Afternoon tea

Session 4: Part A: Investigating the utopian imagination 
16.00 Alex Anthony-Lewczuk: Re-evaluating DUNE – Ecological and Theological Dystopias? 
16.15 Dr. Neil Maycroft: Never mind my jet-pack, where's my four-legged chicken? 

16.30 Part B: Facilitated discussion between panelists and participants 
(ranging across ideas from the whole day, facilitated by Steven Adams)

17.15 Drinks and exhibition

Evening session chair: Professor Matthew Cragoe, UL 
18.00 Introduction by Matthew Cragoe 
18.05 Public lecture - Professor Carenza Lewis 
Brave new world or toil and trouble? The long view of new towns 
19.00 Q and A 

19.30 Close

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Council estate palimpsest projected

One of the earliest posts on this blog, entitled The Revised Plan took to task a fairly commonplace idea that slum clearances and the re-housing of families in new council estates back in the 1950s and 60s represented little more than a postwar piece of cultural colonization: a vision forged by one section of society to be applied to another, where planners 'uprooted' old, 'cohesive' working class communities and placed them in a take it or leave it house within a new estate on the distant edge of town. This alien, modernist world apparently precluded any hope of ‘spontaneous estate evolution’. At the time, I argued that my parents at that time just wanted a good house in a nice part of town like anyone else, private or public, and I doubted that my Mum (or anyone else on the estate in 'the sixties' for that matter) ever secretly thought about creating an estate ‘happening’ over a cup of tea. 

But now, here I am, the errant, who-would've-thought-it, academic offspring of the condescended - culturally colonising the estate myself by helping to create, in artistic speak, a 'transformative intervention', a 'happening' even, as part of the Back to the Future 1965-2015-2016 project mentioned in previous recent posts. Last night, the second stage of the project - Sharing - took place, where Kate, Steve and I put on a show for the Middlefield Lane estate residents, of images of the place where they live, writ large and projected onto the estate itself.  And the residents (well, some - maybe twenty kids and fifteen adults) came to look on at themselves. They seemed to appreciate the spectacle and took lots of photos of the projections, and of their children as they leapt about in front of the images and became absorbed into the summer-long-since-passed representations of themselves. Perhaps we should have done a qualitative feedback questionnaire for everyone to fill in, but where's the fun in that? It was certainly spectacular enough, and often quite breathtakingly beautiful, as I hope the photos below demonstrate. Again, if it just creates a memory that will remain with the children there even as they begin to later forget all the other things about growing up on the estate, then I'll be happy.

Friday, 2 October 2015

Back to the Future 2: Sharing

Last Wednesday, on another beautiful end-of-September morning, I was on the Middlefield Lane estate putting up posters to advertise the next stage of the Back to the Future project. On Friday 9 October, at 7pm, I'll be there again, along with Kate Genever, Steve Pool and the LOV team. After our 3 day visit to the estate in the summer we made a film which we plan to share with the residents as a large-scale projection onto the gable ends of the houses there. We're also showing some wonderful drone aerial footage of the estate so that people can play 'spot our house', and we also plan to hook up a Playstation to the projector so that the kids (young and old) there can play FIFA on a huge scale. Bearing in mind that I can barely get Mario from one stage to another, it should be fun.

Friday, 11 September 2015

Back to school

Friday 11 September 2015. One month after going back to the future:

The Skate Park

The Baby Park

The Big Park

The Tyre Swing

Thursday, 27 August 2015

"I was born here and not back in the future"

The title of this post is something that Jess, an 11 year old resident on the Middlefield Lane estate said to me a couple of weeks ago when I was there helping with the Dream House 'happening' (as I like to call it), which I outlined in my last but one post, 'Back to the Future 1965-2015-2016'. I'm not sure I can even begin to unravel the temporal or cultural complexities of Jess's statement, but the one thing I do know is that after spending three days on the estate I now see it more as a positive thing rather than something unwittingly forlorn and regretful as I might have previously thought. 

For three days, artists Kate and Steve (aka The Poly-Technic), Alice and Elizabeth from LOV (LincolnshireOneVenues young people's project) and myself set up a mock 1960s living room on the estate to get young people in particular to come and play with a 1960’s dolls house and some 60s games (GO! anyone? Waddington's game of international jet-set travel?), to do some drawing and colouring, and to get them to talk about their lives on the estate. We set up shop by a tree with a tyre swing and near to the various parks along Aisby Walk (one thing I loved about that was how all the children naturally referred to each park in the same way - there was 'the skate park', 'the big park', and 'the baby park' - naming and shaping these places for themselves, creating reference points for their future memories ('we used to play such and such on the baby park ...'). 

We soon got a number of children ranging in age from 3 to 11 coming along to see what was happening, and parents/carers would call by soon after to ask what we were doing, and why. All were exceptionally open and receptive to what we were up to - most of the children stayed with us all day (in between occasionally drifting off to the big park), others (older boys on scooters mostly) drifted off once they found out what we were doing and decided it was rubbish. After the first day, we had gained a small bunch of acolytes who would be there first thing on the second and third morning, nonchalantly waiting for us to arrive to set up again. Along the way, we interviewed some of the children about where they played on the estate, what they did, and about what they thought of the estate. One - the aforementioned Jessica, who was about to go up to secondary school - took us on a tour of the estate, to the places which were significant to her. Another - Natasha, who was 6 - took us on a fun tour of the estate simply, it seemed, to be a leader and to boss us around for half an hour. Jess's tour was interesting (we filmed these tours as we went along, and aim to produce a finished, edited, film of our time at Middlefield) mainly because it showed us how, in spite of today's dominant rhetoric of isolated, weight-gaining, PS4 obsessed, indoors-y children, little had in fact changed in the forty years or so since I was 11. It was a fine, sunny week-day during the summer holidays and everyone - but everyone! - was playing out. Jess showed us the wall her friends played football against, the gaps between the blocks of houses where they cycled, and the den they made under a large, overgrown hawthorn bush in the field opposite my old house, where me and my mates also made dens back in the day. They played blocko and tig and kerby.

Jess explained how time slowed down for them when they were bored and didn't know what to do, and it went by far too quickly when they were into a game, or when they were creating the den. She also recalled how they came back to their den a couple of days later to find that someone had trashed it in the meantime. Plus ca bloody change. 

As well as filming the tours around the estate, and conducting several interviews with anyone who cared to talk about the place, we pushed the 'Time Pram' around (a pram with the 60s dolls house stuffed into it as per the photo above) just to see what happened (not much, but that's ok), and Steve and Kate enlarged an old photo of me and a couple of fellow den-builders and blocko players taken in front of my house and created this:

Steve cut out a hole where my head was so that anyone could poke their face through and travel back in time, back to 1967, to be me. At one time, I carried the photo over to my house to send my adult self back in time and space. Unfortunately however, there is now a fence around my old front lawn in order to contain a slightly lairy dog, and so we looked for the nearest equivalent, just a few doors down (where Susan Gittins lived back then) and took this:

I like working with Kate and Steve because their credo is simple and direct: 'With people, in places – doing things'. You can read their blog via the link listed on the right here. They like old school theory (Bloch, Benjamin, alongside a bit of Bergson time and memory stuff for me) and wear it lightly. In Benjamin-speak, I think that our project is 'actualising' the estate: we are finding ways to help people to recognise the new once again, so that the past (in the form of a good, well designed and planned council estate like Middlefield) is, as Benjamin put it somewhere in his Arcade writings, 'reborn into a present capable of receiving it.' For me, the estate remains a good place to live - the planned, green spaciousness of the estate as a whole was clearly still relished by the residents I spoke to, young and old. The estate obviously has its share of problems but, on the days that we were there at least, it certainly was the same calm, free and contented place that I remember it to be back in the 60s and 70s. I still feel very happy and very much at home there. We have more to do at Middlefield (again, see the last but one post here) but I'd be happy with our days on the estate if, at some stage in Jess's life, maybe in thirty or so years time, she will look back and say 'do you remember when those people came onto the estate and we helped to make a film about how we played out there when we were kids?' If that happens, I hope she will realise that actually, back then, she was, already, back in the future.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Back to the Future 1965-2015-2016

BACK TO THE FUTURE 1965-2015-2016
Middlefield Lane estate, Gainsborough, Lincolnshire

Kate Genever and Steve Pool – aka The Poly-Technic. 
Dr Ian Waites – University of Lincoln.
Alice White – LOV young peoples project.

Programme of events

Dream House. 10/11/12 August:
Onsite activity and actions to take place on the green spaces across the estate. A 1960’s dolls house with furniture and a life-size set of a front room will be moved around the estate and be made available for play, for starting conversation and photography. 
Tours will be led by ex-resident Ian Waites who will share stories of the estate and its past. Perhaps current residents will want to share their special memories and places - creating new tours for others to join?

Sharing: [September - date to be confirmed]
Images and films created during the Dream House work in August will be shared with residents as large-scale digital projections - onto estate buildings.

Poly-Math Residency: [October  - date to be confirmed]
An opportunity will be made available for an artist [or possibly 2] to undertake a short residency on the estate. This residency will be supported by The Poly-Technic and will involve the artist working in close alliance with residents and site. Further details to follow.

Film Festival at the Trinity Arts Centre, Gainsborough: [November  - date to be confirmed]
Using the work created and with the Middlefield Lane Estate as a theme, a free-to-all one day film festival of films relating to council estates and childhood will be shown at the Trinity Arts Centre. The films will include the Dream House work, local archive footage, and independent/commercial films and documentaries that centre on council estate environments, such as Fish Tank and Gregory’s Girl. A large-scale projection on the front of the Trinity Arts Centre will also form part of the event.

A new house just like the old house, only NEW!: [Spring 2016 – dates to be confirmed]
The group will temporarily occupy one of the houses on the estate and create a pop-up ‘Back to the Future show home’ by ‘restoring’ some of the interior spaces back to how a typical home might have looked in 1966. The house will be open for visitors and will be used as a communal exhibition space. It will commemorate the history of the estate, provide space for artistic interventions and workshops - possibly theatre based - for residents young and old.  

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Council estate archaeology from the air

Inspired by re-reading Kitty Hauser's fabulously otherwordly book, Bloody Old Britain: O.G.S. Crawford and the Archaeology of Modern Life, I started to googlemap the Middlefield Lane estate from the air. This is the field I used to play in - a former cornfield back in the day but now marked by ad-hoc 'desire' lines created mostly after my time there:

My house is to the right of that mid left-hand side shadowy gap (just above the reference to someone's mobile disco business ... ). When I was a child, there was a large electricity pole and two large sewer manholes near the centre of the field that slowly disappeared over time. There doesn't seem to be any trace of them on this photo but I'm going to look for them next week when I'm on the estate - notes on that to follow ...

Friday, 3 July 2015

Woke up, it was a Chelsea Morning

Today, I'm presenting a paper on my childhood memories of the early songs of Joni Mitchell at Court and Spark - a one-day symposium about Mitchell's music and influence. The one above - a version of Joni's Chelsea Morning by the fabulous Sergio Mendes and Brasil 66 - conjures up all kinds of kinaesthetic/synaesthetic recollections of my life on the estate, circa 1969-70. People view Joni Mitchell's work either as raw, folk-rock confessional, or as lifestyle background music. I guess Chelsea Morning falls into the latter camp. But it still seems as fresh, progressive and joyous to me today as it did back when I first heard Sergio's version as a child. Maybe this is because, back then, both the song, and Sergio's take on it were truly new, in a way that is more or less beyond us now. But maybe also it's the sheer sonic joy of hearing Lani Hall and (*sigh*) Karen Phillip singing in perfect unity beside the lovely grinning soul of Sergio Mendes, transforming the already perfect source material of Joni's song into a sound capable (as one typically random, sweeping and excitable youtube comment put it about Mendes and Brasil 66) of 'destroying evil with hugs and kisses'.  

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Music from my childhood #4: Big Yellow Taxi

I often turn back to the sonic essences of what clearly seemed to me, even as a child, living on the Middlefield Lane estate, a very modern world. It might be difficult for anyone to believe me now, but when I was eight or nine years old, I was acutely and precociously aware of certain sounds from 1968-69-70 that seem to be absolutely redolent of those halcyon days. I remember Love is Blue, and another beautiful, string-laden tune from 1968 called Soul Coaxing, by the Raymond LeFevre Orchestra, which I always associate with a memory of putting stickers of photographs of the Moon and the Universe into some kind of Scientific American book on space travel. I remember my teacher playing us Fleetwood Mac's Albatross while we did a painting of whatever thoughts or images came into mind while listening to it. And I particularly remember bombing around the estate on my bike with Joni Mitchell's wonderful Big Yellow Taxi running on a constant loop in my nine year old head.

Monday, 29 June 2015

Music from my childhood #3

I hear this beautiful song and I'm seven again, stood in the middle of the cornfield in the hot morning sunshine, looking back at my house and thinking it was a long way away. In the depths of rural LIncolnshire, I had no idea where or what Monterey was back then. Handclaps on pop records are always a good thing to my mind.

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Music from my childhood #2

The single my Mum brought home one day. I remember the orange CBS label and its 'eye' logo. I love tambourines to this day. 1965.

Music from my childhood #1

Black Americans singing about universal sadnesses. 1968.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Council estate landscape in summer (with Morrisons shopping trolley)

I was on the estate this afternoon, and on what seemed like the first proper day of summer. As a coda to my previous post, I was happy to find that the field on Dunstall Walk was actually looking more beautiful than ever before - full of cow parsley and brimming with dozens of skylarks all spiralling up and down, on the wing, like little living Harrier jump jets.

A man in his early 20s was standing outside one of the houses on the walk (actually the one where my Uncle Tony used to live in the 1970s) and he asked me what I was doing, so I told him how about my research and how I used to live here as a kid in the 1960s. We chatted about the field, and about a horse that's grazing there now, and he went on to tell me how he'd never live anywhere else. I asked him why and replied "it's quiet, and open, I like the space", much like anyone might have said fifty years ago upon being rehoused there, away from the town's slum housing. Then his girlfriend shouted something about their neighbour who had "gone". "Hmm", he muttered, half to me, half to himself, "mad bitch. Gotta go". 

The skylarks' song, that 'silver chain of sound', along with the gorgeous, heady fragrance of the cow parsley seemed to be everywhere on the estate which, in itself, has never looked greener, and never more perhaps like it was meant to be (but with a stray Morrisons shopping trolley to prevent us from getting too bucolic).

Monday, 1 June 2015

Middlefield before Middlefield

'... it is only a short step of the imagination to envisage the onetime fields being themselves still there. with their grass and buttercups and even the footprints of cows, merely hidden beneath modern concrete and asphalt - as if you had simply to lift up a paving stone in order to reveal it.' 

(Gillian Tindall, The Fields Beneath, 1977, p. 14) 

I've noted before how the Middlefield Lane estate was built on the edge of Gainsborough. That was the way back then - slum clearance and dispersal out onto new estates on the 'distant rims' of towns. The planning of these estates often mirrored the 'prairies' of the open countryside they were set against and, as a consequence, they were very much despised by architectural critics like JM Richards and Gordon Cullen, and by the sociologists of the time, most notably Willmott and Young, who negatively pitted what they saw as the lonely, social fragmentation of the new estates against the supposedly warm and tightly-knit slum housing communities. It is still sad to note that those who were at the centre of trying to forge a progressive and socially democratic Welfare State culture ended up providing the central arguments for the future 'failure' of the post-war council estate. More recent studies however, such as Mark Clapson's Invincible Green Suburbs, Brave New Towns: Social Change and Urban Dispersal in Post-war England (1998) have attempted to counter this by arguing for the adaptable and essentially (whether we like it or not) suburban mind-set of those who moved from the slums: newly-weds like my Mum and Dad clearly understood that moving onto a new council estate meant both a move ‘up’ and a move 'away' - a chance for them to put some distance both between themselves and the sometimes over-close bosom of the extended family and, most importantly, the shameful decrepitude of the housing they were leaving behind. 

The children of the time weren't complaining either. From this child's point of view at least, I had the best of every world possible at Middlefield - excitingly new, open and safe pedestrianised spaces on the estate, a shopping precinct to kick around, and open countryside that was just a few yards away at the end of our front garden path.
The photo above shows the view we had from our living room in 1966: a single arable field that gave me and my friends the annual thrill of seeing a combine harvester rumble past our living room windows, throwing up noise, dust, and tiny, breath-taking bits of corn as it went by. 

The field always appeared to us like a very solitary field, untouchable even as all the building happened around it. It was bounded on one side by Heapham Road (a lane really back then, which went out into the wider countryside beyond), and by a fenced-off piece of scrubland on the other which was later transformed into a playing field. At the far end of the field was a long hedgerow and a ditch that was deep and always dried up. The field can be seen below, in the top right-hand corner of this 1972 aerial photo of the estate and just above the playing field where a few figures can be seen dotted around watching a pub team football match. My house was one of those directly opposite the field near the bend in the path that ran all the way along Dunstall Walk: 

The earlier, pre-estate, extent of the field can be seen here in a detail from a 1951 O.S. map of Gainsborough, roughly where the 'UD &' is:

In the eighteenth century, this was part of the unenclosed 'Beck Field' (and I have an unconfirmed sneaking suspicion that the ditch at the end of 'our' field where we played 'war' and made dens was once the beck itself). There was a 'Middle Field' in this commonland world but it was to the north of here, and the estate was eventually named after the lane that once led to that field. After 1804, Gainsborough was enclosed and the old, communal open fields were lost forever to a kind of divided-up and privatised countryside. The enclosure produced a number of smaller, parcelled off fields, including this one here, bounded on the map by Heapham Road at the top, the undulating Middle Field Lane to the left, and the long field line at the bottom that led from one road to the other. This is where the estate was built between July 1963 and May 1964. The estate fitted within the line of the roads but the layout of the estate itself - perhaps in true Modernist fashion - took no heed whatsoever of the old field lines seen here. A 200 year-old farmhouse on Heapham Road (identified on the map) was also demolished to partly make way for the estate:

But a section of that field - the one opposite my house on Dunstall Walk - remained after the estate had been built. It was cultivated up until the early 1970s when a new by-pass cut through the far end of it. After then, it quickly transformed itself into waste ground: thistles, bracken, and shattered chunks of corroded reinforced concrete seemed to appear from nowhere, along with old bike frames and the innards of armchairs. But the field has persisted. Industrial units overshadow it today but it has never been built upon - this is how it looked in February a couple of years ago, indicative perhaps not of the Middlefield before Middlefield, but prescient rather of a Middlefield after Middlefield:

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

... to seem beautiful again, and interesting, and modern

List for a reconstruction of our living room in 1966:

2-piece leatherette suite
Dining Table and Two Chairs
Lampstand and Flowery Shade (in Red and Orange):

A Floor Standing Ashtray
Black and White Television
An open fireplace and hearth with beige tiles
A pouffe
Orange and white plastic standing sewing box
A blue budgie in a standing cage
Display Cabinet with small coloured sherry glasses on a stand
Green and gold flock wallpaper

One of these:

A fancy wall mirror – metal, painted a cream colour
A wooden tea trolley with china tea set on top (just for display) 
A Bush record player on a gold wire record stand.
A 78rpm copy of 'Coronation Scot' by The Sydney Torch Orchestra
A 45rpm single - 'Mr Tambourine Man' by The Byrds
The ceramic Siamese Cat on the windowsill

Sunday, 8 March 2015


Studies on memory, such as Martin A Conway’s Autobiographical Memory: An Introduction (1990) generally begin with the premise that the experience of remembering is determined by the recall of events or episodes that are dominated by a particular sense of place and time. The memories of our childhood in particular are often dominated by vivid, visual reference-points that are the remnants of the intense and unmediated experiences of a child. Back in June 2013, in a post called You're My World I recalled what I think is my very earliest memory: of me and my Mum and Dad viewing what was to become our new council house in the early Spring of 1964. The one visual reference point I have of that time was the stainless steel kitchen sink unit, and the two chrome taps that hung over the sink. I particularly remember that these taps had little red and blue dots embedded in them, one for hot and one for cold, like this:

They were called Supataps, and they were all the rage in the 1950s and 60s due, to some extent, to their space-ageish design and to the fact you could change the washer on them without having to turn off the water supply. Supataps also became the council house tap of choice. Here they are in a plumber's merchant catalogue from 1964, the year we moved into our house on Dunstall Walk:

I tend to articulate the memory of seeing those taps in our new kitchen in terms of being transported from a monochrome nothingness into a pop art world of red and blue dots, as my family finally crossed the threshold into 'the Sixties'. But I'm not sure how reliable the memory is, or the sentiment that I now attach to it. As we enter adulthood, the direct sensory experiences of our childhood become dulled by familiarity, and they are gradually substituted by a mode of appreciation and remembrance to the point where we become almost wholly incapable of recalling or even imagining what we saw and felt as a child. Nearly all that can we can experience has already been had. As Jorge Luis Borges once stated:

Memory changes things. Every time we remember something, after the first time, we're not remembering the event, but the first memory of the event. Then the second experience of the second memory and so on.

Or, as the psychologist and author of Pieces of Light: The New Science of Memory (2013), Charles Fernyhough put it, 'Our memories are created in the present, rather than being faithful records of the past'. But if our memories are (re)created in the present, then they also have the potential to be generative of meaning in relation to our future. In the wider context of the history of the council estate, and of its dwindling meaning in a time of acute, market-skewered and ownership-driven housing shortages, my memories of my childhood home could be construed as mere nostalgia. If so, then I'm happy with that, and I will press on regardless because, as Paul Ricoeur rightly said somewhere in his studies of time, memory and nostalgia, 'Nostalgia is to the emotions what idealism is to the intellect'.