Sunday, 22 January 2012

Bon Mots from Meades

Jonathan Meades has a formidable mind. I still relish the throwaway line shattering smug pretention that he voiced on one of his architectural history TV progs "Lutyens is known to have designed eleven houses, thirty-seven of which are in Surrey". 


His piece in the Telegraph urges us not to blame the slum estates of the sixties for the criminal behaviour of the underclass. Not that he likes or approves of the architecture, you understand, but because those who live in Albany refrain from crack dealing in the stairwells whilst those who live in Ernest Bevin House do not. Meades sums it up;
exclusion – initially expressed through truancy and minor delinquency – is wrought by people on themselves, by their irresponsibility and failure to integrate, because their life is an incompatible synthesis of primitivism and envy, of ill-education and consumerist desire
Unfortunately he stops there, hesitant perhaps at wandering too far from architectural history. More, Jonathan, please. 

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Always enjoy watching Jonathan, his acute subtly perceptive observations are an absolute delight.

Robin Melville said...

A friend of mine worked for many years in social housing in some of the grimmest parts of Nottingham and Bristol. She used to assert -- as was the "given" in her field -- that the "built environment" was responsible for much of the problems.

Soulless and brutal as they may be, some renovated blocks in S. London are now very desirable, whereas some rather nicely built '50s estates with gardens and street trees in Nottingham are hell holes.

However, Jonathan is wrong to say that the kids choose to be horrors. It's the culture of asocial alienation they're born into. There's no reference frame for anything else. So they grow up and raise feral children of their own.

"Popular" TV is no help at all since it promulgates that chippy, whingeing sense of entitlement wall-to-wall.

Demetrius said...

Did you see Meades on TV this week, in France with some interesting takes on 1960's history as well as other things.

Greg Tingey said...

J Meades, whoever he is, obviously has a formidable mouth.
I don't think he has a brain though.
In what used to be Walthamstow (before it became part of Waltham Forest) actually tried the housing experiment, and properly designed blocks of flats, and the surrounding lay-out of the grounds, made a HUGE difference to the behaviour of the inhabitants.
Which was pronptly fucked by guvmint as soon as we were amalgamated, because althouth the lifetime cost of proper design was low, first cost was high.
Guess what guvmint insisted on?
Yup low first cost, and to hell with long-term results.

Anonymous said...

Greg - which government? The current one or the last one?

Coney Island

right_writes said...

His use of the language is sublime, even though I suspect he is a bit of a lefty.

I put him up there with early Bob Dylan.

Budgie said...

It may seem humane for government to provide a welfare system, but the effect is to remove from the dim/feckless/unfortunate any chance of responsibility for their own welfare. The result is powerlessness (or the deprivation of self-actualisation to use sociological jargon).

We also have a very poor basic education system for the dim and feckless. Taken together the wonder is that we have so little trouble, not so much. It is not housing, as such, but state owned housing (inc associations in practice) that cannot be controlled by the individual tenant which emphasises powerlessness.