[Ben Reeve Lewis has not had a good night..)
Never buy your dog a ham bone.
Last night our little fur-ball was gifted one from a lump of Parma ham, so quite a large salt content. (You know you live in too trendy a part of London when your dog gets Parma ham bones)
This caused him to drink water constantly and bark at the back door every 20 minutes to go outside for a wee, giving new meaning to the phrase “In the wee small hours of morning”, meaning I had to keep getting up all night to open the back door.
Eventually, I grew fed up and slept on the floor of the kitchen to be near the door, only to wake up at 6am to find myself stiff and cold and him snoring away on my bed with a look of “And your point is?” when I walked into the bedroom and saw him there.
So very wearily to this week’s housing news.
A new source of housing funding
The Turner Prize has long been a source of controversy but things this week took a turn for the surreal when a street of regenerated houses in Toxteth, Liverpool won the award.
Putting her finger squarely on the button broadcaster Muriel Gray said:
“I think it’s changed the nature of the Turner Prize because I don’t think it is modern art. I think it’s socially responsible, beautiful architecture. But it’s a very peculiar year”.
BBC arts correspondent Wiil Gompertz said of it:
“Is it art? Does it matter? If somebody turning on and off lights can win the Turner Prize, why shouldn’t somebody trying to re-energise a neglected part of an inner city win?”
Which kind of hints at what Andy Warhol once said about business being the highest form of art, in which case next year I’m going to nominate Foxtons for the Turner Prize, although things aren’t all rosy in the Hipster camp there.
Up and down
Having shot right up the shares chart a couple of years back, Like Usain Bolt with a bailiff after him Foxton’s nascent star is rapidly descending with the news that 35% has been wiped off of their share price and they have been escorted by the elbow from the FTSE 250 by a polite but firm concierge.
Meanwhile, City AM tells us that having checked the guest list, rabbit hutch manufacturers Barratt and Taylor Wimpey are being welcomed through the red rope by the same concierge presumably after having thrown Foxtons unceremoniously into the gutter whilst brushing the dirt from his white gloves.
I would imagine that the share prices of these infamous makers of doll’s houses is rising as a result of Osborne’s spending review, in which he pledged to make £4 billion available for house-building.
The future’s bright, the future’s …………………..well…….petite, shall we say?
Culture and the Council
But staying with art and public services and not in a piss-taking way either, I read on blog ‘New Start’, of areas where art, culture and council stuff interface in ways which could indeed promote better services and even help solve the homelessness crisis in some areas.
So many homelessness applications are driven by eviction for rent arrears, nuisance behaviour and a general inability to cope by a range of our fellow citizens, who for a wide variety of reasons are less well able to weather the storms of their lives than the rest of us.
These people often fetch up down the homelessness unit where small fortunes are spent sorting out their car crash lives with housing solutions and legal conundrums, when often the problem isn’t anything to do with housing or legal issues but their inability to deal with everyday life which is often driven by mental health problems, maybe too far below the legal threshold to give them any protection but who are, nonetheless not doing very well.
New Start talk of a range of funded/public initiatives aimed at using art and culture to tackle what is normally perceived as more prosaic problems.
Apparently in Kent there is an interesting project whereby arts and cultural initiatives are providing solutions which impact upon a range of mental health problems, whilst in Gloucestershire the council is looking at partnering up with arts and cultural groups which can promote mental health interventions, that whilst not directly related to homelessness figures will clearly have a cost saving knock on effect.
Councils are rarely great at sideways thinking but I can really see the correlation here between innovative schemes aimed at encouraging citizen engagement and more prosaic things like rent arrears and homelessness.
And if you want a great example of rigid council thinking look no further than……
What made me smile this week
The ever vigilant and diligent Newham council furrowed my brow in disbelief with news of a row over the confiscation of a table belonging to housing pressure group Focus15 who had a stall going in Stratford having a dig at council housing policies.
Apparently having already harassed the SWP over their table Newham enforcement officer John Oddie turned his ire on Focus15, accompanied by police.
As an ex council enforcement officer myself I have to say if I had been in the team I wouldn’t have been able to function for being doubled up with laughter at the bizarreness of the enterprise.
Nearly Legal managed to supress the guffaws long enough to point out the legal niceties, in that the seizure of the recklessly offending table was carried out under the aegis of the London Local Authorities and Transport for London Act 2003 and that not only are Focus15 not a business, as is required by said law, but also the table in question was not “Deposited on the highway so as to cause a danger”.
Focus15 report on their blog that this was clearly pre-planned with police in attendance, so there must have been some meeting or other in the town hall where a group of people seriously discussed this first.
What I wouldn’t have given to have been in that meeting. Acid flashbacks would have had nothing on those discussions.
See ya in the new year.