If I sit on the settee in my living room, immediately opposite is a low wall bordering a garden.  The usual reason I am  on the settee is to watch TV or read, but I am often distracted by what is happening opposite. It is a gathering place for young men (and occasionally an older man) to sit until the local celebrity comes out to greet them. To the uninitiated he would simply be called a drug dealer, but to those privy to closer acquaintance, he is indeed a celebrity, if only Z listed. If you were to sit and watch all day, you would witness him going up and down the road being greeted by the many young men living here. He is pleasant and always has a smile on his face; perhaps the result of a successful business. Who am I to judge? The people who come to see him are all of an age deemed capable to be able to make life decisions.

What does annoy me is the fact that when the visitors leave, they often leave litter behind and I am the one who goes and picks it up and disposes of it. Occasionally I will go out and ask them politely to take their rubbish with them. When I do this I am invariably met with polite responses and apologies. However, I cannot man a 24hr patrol and so it is an ongoing problem.

Should I be more concerned about the reason behind the high volume of traffic brought about by dealing drugs on my doorstep?  I probably should, because it is yet another reason why the area is on a downward spiral. I get annoyed because the dealer keeps them away from where he lives but apparently has no qualms about where else he does his business.  There is no attempt at secrecy, either. Drugs are openly traded and on one occasion a neighbour saw him throw a deal into a car.  There seems to be a general acceptance, even amongst the few older people living locally. Maybe for the young men living here it is a positive bonus – drugs on the doorstep.

Perhaps the main reason it is generally accepted by the local population is that it is all done in a congenial way. The people that buy and the person that sells are usually polite and apart from occasional groups congregating, they do not behave in an anti-social way.  Crime statistics for the area are lower than the national average.  In addition there are only a couple of households in the road with young children, and these are the households one would imagine would have the strongest feelings about open drug dealing.  Finally, it is generally accepted that only marijuana is being dealt, and for many this is the mild end of drug dealing, whatever the arguments may be against it.

For myself, whilst it annoys me sometimes, my own priorities lie with other aspects of the neighbourhood, and these are the first things I would like to see change.


Sweeping the Street

Posted: May 15, 2011 in Urban Living

This Sunday morning I got a telephone call to say that visitors were on the way. For those of us that are concerned about such things, this might necessitate a quick flick round with a duster and plumping up the cushions.  In my case it means grabbing a black bag and a litter picker and having a quick walk up and down the street picking up all kinds of litter that has appeared overnight – bottles, cans, papers, empty food containers – it’s nothing if not varied.

I wish I didn’t care about the people coming to my house having to negotiate the detritus that others leave behind, but I do.  I feel that it labels me as some kind of failure in life.  What have I been doing all my life if this is the best I can manage as somewhere to live? 

In my defence, it wasn’t always like this. What changed it was 2004 and the influx of people wanting cheap accommodation. To answer that demand, a new breed of amateur landlord emerged, and bought small terraces like mine and turned them into multi occupancy dwellings. Living rooms became another bedroom.

This wasn’t too bad at first. The houses, recently acquired, were by and large in good repair, and the people that came to live in them, a broad spectrum of male, female, young and old. Mainly eastern Europeans who made pleasant neighbours and kept themselves and the houses clean and tidy.  Seven years on, those early settlers have gone. Either back to their home countries, or upgraded from a room in a shared house to accommodation of their own.  They have been replaced almost entirely by young, single men, which has created a new set of problems.  I’ll tell you about those another time.

However, the landlords are the perpetrators of this misery (that isn’t exaggerating – we all know how our surroundings affect our sense of wellbeing) and it is for them I reserve my contempt.  Their greed, willingness to house people in dismal surroundings and general disregard for anybody but themselves has contributed to my own morphing from Miss Congeniality, laid back to almost horizontal, into Mrs Angry who spends time writing letters of complaint and fighting a losing battle to improve the surroundings of myself and those around me.  Maybe my advancing years has contributed, but that doesn’t negate the problems. I should quantify this. There are landlords who house their tenants in houses they would be happy to live in themselves and some of  them own houses in this road.  Unfortunately they are outnumbered by those who don’t care.  Those who come and collect the rent each week, see the chaos but drive straight back to their own home in Pleasantville.

Still, I have been fighting back and the pace is gathering momentum. Watch this space – and by the way, any useful comments or tips would be much appreciated.