W: We’ve had good neighbours, we’ve been really lucky.
M: Oh yeah, everybody knew everybody, but now you get to know somebody and all of a sudden you go, who’s that in there? They’ve moved and someone else is living there now. When we first moved in, the four flats had their own alarm system, the old boy he always got up early, and you used to hear him knocking, knocking Janet next door, time to get up! And then she used to bang on our wall, and say come on! And we used to bang down to Elaine, didn’t we? So it was like a four-way system to get everyone out of bed
W: Oh it was so funny. Oh, we’ve had some lovely neighbours
M: Yeah, you used to hear Mr Bridge hit the ceiling, didn’t you, to wake up Jan, and we used to lie in bed and say, oh it must be time to get up. And then you’d hear Jan on our wall, you up?
W: oh it was lovely. We really miss them. And they’ve been gone for years, haven’t they?
M: Everything changes.
Wendy and Michael, Warner Road
A lot of families who were in these flats, were related. It’s surprising, like that one, that one, that one, were sisters, very very close-knit, and most of them I still remember being from small, they’re 80 plus now, but they remember me being little and I remember them being my aunties. They’ve always been a close knit family around here. Even Circle 33 when they refurbed round here, said that this road was a very good community road, that we all kept an eye on each other. Apart from what I call the old houses, I know a few because we had a street party, 18 months ago, so we got to know others, but this end I know everyone, but only a few down there, because the turnaround is so quick. A lot of them are only six month stayers, then they go. Downstairs is privately owned, they’ve been here six years. And they couldn’t believe how welcoming everyone is, like my neighbour here he does their garden, it’s really nice. You know if you haven’t seen someone for a while you contact their daughter or something.
Sue, Cornwallis Road
They come and go like bees in a colander. This side, we know upstairs, and we know both the neighbours next door, but we don’t see them very often do we Clive?
Eileen, Courtenay Road
I’ve got friends over the road, she comes over quite often, over at number one, she’s my friend and she does a bit of shopping for me. And the girls upstairs, I’ve got two girls upstairs, well, women, and I get on very very well with them. I get on well with all my neighbours, I take in all the parcels for the road, because everyone knows I’m here. I’m here all the time. I don’t go out on my own, at least. I fall over so I don’t go out on my own. I take all the parcels in, and that’s fine. I’ll do anything. I do get on well with all my neighbours.
My upstairs neighbours don’t come down very much. At one time they used to come down and have a cup of tea or something but they’re working a lot of the time now. They’re about.. I can’t tell ages but forty-ish, something like that? A pair of them like, I think they’re a couple. That’s all right, it doesn’t offend me or do anything to me, it’s none of my business. They’re nice, I get on very well with them. If I need any help they’re on the phone, I pick up the phone, and they’ve got keys, they come down. Because I’m on my own. It’s an awkward one, really. I’ve got a brother, but he lives down at the coast. That’s all I have got really, my brother and his little family. Other than that I’ve only got neighbours. But I’m all right. Like I say I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else, I love it here.
I don’t complain about children’s noise or anything, I like to hear it. Sometimes I’m sitting here and, like they’ve been doing a bit of decorating and plastering next door, but he goes to work so they do it at weekends, it’s what happens, and I deal with that. I deal with anything. I mean I’ve had scaffolding up at the front, for next door this way, and he came round and asked me if it was all right, because he had to do something to his roof. So I said yeah, and then- flowers. You know, they’re nice, that’s Matthew, he brought me in the flowers.
Maureen, Fleeming Road
D: We felt like nearly everything we did kind of upset them
A: I suppose because they’ve lived here for such a long time, they are elderly, I mean she’s a widow now, but they were an elderly couple and they just.. I think they didn’t like the changes around here very much
D: I think even though to start with they were quite ‘oh great nice new people’ I think they kind of almost were a bit.. a bit resentful that new people had moved in that they didn’t know, who were a much different generation, and they didn’t understand these people who wanted to do up their house when they moved in and make all this noise, although at the time they said “oh yeah we understand you want to make your mark on the place” then when we actually did it was a completely different story.
A: Yeah there were quite a few remarks about us, like I’m Polish and he’s Scottish so we are regarded as foreigners, both of us [both laugh] But I suppose I can understand that because if all the people you know, all your friends, neighbours, slowly were moving out, and they seem like they kind of missed out, on the fact that quite a lot of people at a certain time just moved to Essex or Chingford, and they just simply didn’t follow. And they ended up being in a position when all the people who were familiar to them were just gone, and suddenly they’re surrounded by strangers, and a lot of different nations, and they just don’t… I can understand it, it’s very alienating. But I suppose because we had so many glitches with the work that we were doing, so anything that we kind of.. . we could be on good terms, and be friends, but then we upset them because of the noise, because of the dust, or the dirt.
Asia and Duncan, Brettenham Road
These places are made out of paper, I can hear everything. I know that she’s out, he’s probably in bed upstairs, and I can hear her, like this morning about quarter past eight, she’s either the clumsiest woman in Christendom, throwing things everywhere, or she just makes a lot of noise getting ready for work. I don’t know, she always leaves for work about quarter past, twenty past eight in the morning, and leaves sleeping beauty up there, and he starts up usually about three, four o clock in the afternoon, and he’s a bloody nuisance. He’s twenty-one. I know I was a pain in the arse at twenty one, but God… not when I lived in a flat made out of paper. Because he says he’s an artist, and I just think well, I’d like to be an artist where you just stay in bed all day.
The woman next door, she hasn’t touched her back garden.. The housing officer’s even said to me there’s practically nobody who does anything with their gardens. And when she told me about the man next door saying he was blind it just made me laugh… I thought oh there’s an idea, that’s how I’ll get the gardening done. I’ll just say I’m blind! Blind indeed… oh dear. There’s just no accounting for people is there. Because I’ve just never ever come across people like that, never. They’re nice, but they’re funny. I don’t think they realise how funny they are. But then they probably think that I’m funny as well. Because I’m epileptic and I once managed to give myself a black eye and my mum said you can’t go out with a black eye because people will talk. I said people don’t know me down here but they’ve already decided all they need to know. They don’t care, what they don’t know they’ll make up. It’s the nature of some people, you know. I don’t, but everyone gets the same chance, and if they prove themselves to be a bastard then that’s it, you’ve had your chance and now you can just sing for it.
Paul, Leucha Road
I’ve had new neighbours next door here, it was a great shock when they moved, because they’d been here a year before me, Pauline and John. But my God, do I miss them! We weren’t in each other’s homes, or anything like that, but she stayed at work and he retired, and I know it seems strange, a man, but he was my friend! We were friends. And if he didn’t see me for a couple of days, they’d got a key, and I’d got their key, he would ring the bell and if I didn’t come to the door he would let himself in and knock on this door to see if I was all right. And if I wasn’t he’d make me a cup of tea. They moved just over a year ago. We have emailed each other, and he has been to see me twice, but I think what it is, is you don’t want to see what’s happening to your home. Because he did all the woodwork, and what they’ve let that door get like, well…. I don’t think she likes housework very much.
This side, they have taken down walls, and I’m so glad they didn’t do it when they had their five children. I have told them, I said don’t talk about anything private, because I can hear you! I put the telly or the music on, so that I’m not in with their conversation. And they’ve got a new baby, but I don’t mind hearing the baby, it’s lovely. And I’m sure he’s got elephant boots on when he goes up the stairs, but I’m getting used to it. No, I am getting used to the different sounds, it doesn’t bother me, really, as long as they don’t mind. Wendy, next door the other way, she took me as a friend and she’s only young, about 40, and so when I send her a card I always put from ‘your old friend’, in brackets.
Mary, Ardleigh Road
We are lucky, not everyone can have neighbours like that. When we moved in her daughter was 2 years old and my daughter was one year old. They’re just one year different and everything that the first one has gone through, after that will come to me. Whether good or bad, whatever, it comes, one year later, that’s the way it goes. When my little one was born, she came to the hospital and picked me up, and when we came home they decorated this house. When we go on holiday we leave the key with them and they look after it, when they go on holiday we look after their cat and go and tidy the flat.
Well about 4 years ago, we had neighbours, they’re very decent people but in the night time you can tell whether they are decent or not! All you could hear was the sex noise, really loud. And Angelina was 8 years old and I have to shut her ears to put her to sleep. Like this it’s ok, I don’t think when I’m talking that Vicky can hear me, but sometimes when Vicky and Jason are giggling together you can hear them really really loud. Just because the walls are really…. We can even hear the coughs… you know any noise, there’s no privacy, basically. Both neighbours could hear what we are doing, and we can hear what they’re doing. We can tell when they are in and when they’re not.
Gnanamani, Leucha Road
The only neighbour I hear is the one below me, he has a deep voice, he snores, and he gets angry every so often, and it’s difficult to tell when he’s actually speaking to someone versus when he’s angry because it’s the same tone.. other than that I don’t hear very much. If I do I just turn my music on and drown everyone out.
Terence, Warner Road
In terms of the people, it’s a real mixture, some people you just nod at, other people are really chatty. Our neighbour next door, Hazel, she’s a really old school neighbour and she’s always knocking on the door to say hello, checking you’re all right, she’ll feed the cat if you’re on holiday, you know, she’ll talk to you over the garden fence and that sort of stuff, there’s a couple of people like that on the street and it’s really nice, there’s a good sense of community.
The woman next door, she plays the flute, and it’s really nice that you can hear that sometimes. But you can quite easily just hear it in the background, it wouldn’t sort of distract you or anything like that.
Rosie, Carr Road
There is music playing but it’s one of the loveliest things, I think there’s two single people who live by themselves in respective flats and I’ve never quite figured out the floor layout but one of them is presumably a reasonably competent pianist and it’s just occasionally, definitely there’s been some Schubert, but it does sound like perhaps they’re own compositions and it’s really nice, it’s perfectly pleasant thing. 11 o’clock on a Sunday morning and you hear a piano playing, I’m not going to complain, you know.
Claire, Hibbert Road
S: On the left hand side, that house has been made into two flats, and when we moved in there were two lots of people living there. The ground floor people were there already. Last summer they moved out, they had two daughters as far as we knew, and when they moved out they chatted to us, for the first time we had a conversation, and we discovered that they had had a baby the year before, and we didn’t even know. And I was horrified. It upset me so badly I can’t even tell you, for every reason. For a start we didn’t hear a baby, we didn’t know there was a baby, and where is the neighbourliness? And there isn’t any I’m afraid, in our road.
L: I don’t entirely agree with Sue, because I mean firstly I don’t think we’ve ever particularly wanted to be part of the kind of community, we do like to know who our neighbours are, and you know, we get on very well with our neighbours next door, and one of the people who lives on the corner, because that’s divided into flats, and the woman on the ground floor we know quite well, we wouldn’t want to live in each other’s pockets, but we do know the people on that side and as I say the woman who lives on the ground floor. The other thing is, we’ve both until very recently been working full time, so we were actually out during the day, so we kind of, although it is something that Sue feels very strongly about, that we’re not integrated into the local community, my argument is we’re not actually around that much to actually do that.
Lucy and Sue, Pretoria Avenue
When we first moved in there were lots of older people, and there were loads of windows that were painted the cream and green, which is the Warner colours. In the last 15 years I think there has been a complete change of demographics. And it has brought positives because it feels like a little community, it really does. I know my neighbours on both sides, we’re both really close, so if my husband and I were going to the pub we’d text them to say so. A lot of the children go to either the school at the top of the road or the Lloyd Park centre, so you see the same faces, and eventually you start talking, and it feels really nice, I probably know the faces of most of my neighbours.
Edna, Elphinstone Road
I think I’m on about my eighth neighbour upstairs. Mrs Salmon, she was a tenant, lived on her own, she was a widow, and she passed away, and then a young lad bought it, but he only bought it, done it up and all that, and sold it on. They don’t seem to stay long, I don’t know if it’s me, or what! But I’ve been lucky with neighbours. I mean I’ve got, she’s Danish, the girl, lives with her boyfriend, got a little boy. I’ve got no complaints, they’re lovely people, but they live on bare floorboards. And you can imagine, the little boy, he might be in in a minute, you’ll hear him, he comes up them stairs, and he runs everywhere like, you know, but I get on well.. I couldn’t fault that. But I’ve been lucky with neighbours. I mean Louise who had the flat before, she was a young single girl, I still meet up with her, we go out for lunch about once every couple of months, just to catch up on things. No I’ve been very lucky with neighbours.
Ray, North Countess Road