Advanced search

to be surprised Rhiannon Cosslett is old enough to be an authority on this?

(55 Posts)
RobinsAreTerritorialFuckers Wed 18-May-16 08:04:45

Warning: trivial witterings.

I've read Cosslett's stuff in the Guardian a bit, and I had assumed she was somewhere in her 30s. Maybe early 40s.

I'm a bit surprised to find her coming over all Four Yorkshiremen about tower blocks in the 60s and 70s. Article here:

Apparently: 'I always laugh when I hear middle-class people – and it so often is middle-class people – fervently defending brutalism. When they wax lyrical about the sparse beauty of, say, the Trellick Tower, you can’t help but think: “That’s all very well, but you didn’t have to live in it.”'

I don't disagree Tower Blocks seem (from my middle-class lack of knowledge) both fairly ugly and not as fun to live in as a nice detached house, but AIBU to be surprised by the tone of this piece?

VioletBam Wed 18-May-16 08:32:39

You're surprised that an educated woman in her 40s could know anything about an era in which she wasn't yet an adult?


A million brilliant authors write very well about eras in which they were not alive!

She's right. What is it about her tone that you don't like exactly?

RobinsAreTerritorialFuckers Wed 18-May-16 08:35:18

But she's writing about it as if she was there and an adult, don't you think?

That's what I found strange. I can't quite put my finger on it, but the 'all middle class people love tower blocks' thing just seemed strange to me.

Maybe it's just me!

VioletBam Wed 18-May-16 08:36:40

I'd like to expand. I grew up in council accommodation and have lived in a tower block too...yes, one of those 1960s monstrosities in South London.

I therefore grew up around the original tenants of these places. They were my "Aunties" and my babysitters, my friends and my parent's friends.

Their sons were my first boyfriends.

I'm 43 and I know ALL about what those places were like. She made one comment about the type of people who defend the places...and she pointed out that they were middle class.

Of course they bloody well are!

AntiquityOverShares Wed 18-May-16 08:38:31

No she's not writing as if she's there. She's writing about middle class people in the now romanticising brutalism while all research shows the social displacement at the time was harmful and the current problems are not good.

RobinsAreTerritorialFuckers Wed 18-May-16 08:40:03

Well yes, but isn't she making a joke of it? One that seems a bit snobby about everyone concerned.

Trills Wed 18-May-16 08:42:20

I had assumed she was somewhere in her 30s. Maybe early 40s.

Really? I think she's under 30 from the stuff she's written about being a member of generation rent, sexism, and what it's like being a freelancer.

This is clearly a "piece written as a journalist" rather than "a piece written as an person-who-has-personal experience".

Apart from the getting lost in the Barbican thing. That's personal.

VioletBam Wed 18-May-16 08:43:01

No she's not making a joke of it. I can't see where you got that from OP.

Could you point out the funny bits?

AntiquityOverShares Wed 18-May-16 08:44:18

It's fairly normal to critique the views of those who romanticise that which they have no experience of especially when it comes to admiring a sale of architecture which is still having negative social repercussions.

AntiquityOverShares Wed 18-May-16 08:44:54

*style of architecture

AntiquityOverShares Wed 18-May-16 08:46:02

(as an aside I had always assumed she was in her 20s)

RobinsAreTerritorialFuckers Wed 18-May-16 08:46:33

trills - yes, wasn't sure about age, but I associate her more with those topics.

violet - that language about 'waxing lyrical' is a pisstake, isn't it? She's saying 'look at these middle class wankers who think they're being clever' but she's also saying 'ha, and also, you people who live here, you live in an ugly shithole, isn't it hilarious some people pretend to like it'.

It just seemed as if she was snarking at both sides.

But maybe I read that wrongly. I certainly don't think there's anything wrong with sneering at hipster fake sentiment, but there's a way to do it that doesn't also come across like sneering at where people live.

SalemSaberhagen Wed 18-May-16 08:46:50

I think she is 29, actually.

VioletBam Wed 18-May-16 08:49:42

OP she never once laughed at the residents of such places.

I think you need to look at your comprehension skills.

SalemSaberhagen Wed 18-May-16 08:50:15

I am failing to see how you got all that from this piece OP. In no way is she digging at people who have to live there.

RobinsAreTerritorialFuckers Wed 18-May-16 08:50:53

Fair enough, it's just how I read it. Guess we're all different.

Footle Wed 18-May-16 08:52:09

I love her writing. The piece about her brother was brilliant and mind-expanding. She has a good head on her shoulders , whatever age she is.

BadDoGooder Wed 18-May-16 08:57:59

I'm only 31, am I not allowed to have an opinion about things that were before my time?
I like RC, I think she writes well, and unlike some of the other journalists at the Graun she actually doesn't come across as sneery.

She is right about brutalist 60s flats btw. I used to live in one, and while I was sad to see it go, it was essentially a dumping ground for all the "undesirables" in my town.

RobinsAreTerritorialFuckers Wed 18-May-16 09:04:07

I did like the piece on her brother. I admit, some of her other stuff gets up my nose, so I might be being biased.

bad - no, you're my age, and I think we all do have opinions about things before our time. But you can't go around saying 'you didn't have to live there' if you also didn't have to live there, can you? And it transpires that, if she's 29, she didn't!

I used to live in brutalist 60s flats too, and I share your mixed feelings. Yes, they were fucking hideous and yes, it's not a good way of housing people, but that was my home. It's for me to take the piss out of. Not someone else.

PaulAnkaTheDog Wed 18-May-16 09:08:21

Your last sentence is the crux of why you're misinterpreting the article.

RobinsAreTerritorialFuckers Wed 18-May-16 09:09:51

Yes, maybe so. It was just a knee-jerk reaction, so glad to have it put back in perspective. I do know it's her job to have an opinion, just my first response was a bosom-hoiking 'who are you to say that!' one.

WhoKnowsWhereTheTimeG0es Wed 18-May-16 09:14:27

It really doesn't read as taking the piss out of these flats or the people who live there to me, just a dig at the middle classes who've never set foot in one romanticising them.

BadDoGooder Wed 18-May-16 09:18:12

Robins I think that's where we differ though, I don't feel like she was taking the piss, either out of the people who lived there, or the people who romanticise them.
The impression I got is that she's pointing out that all the people suddenly complaining because some awful tower block where "The lifts broke down, the stairwells were awash with urine, there was poor lighting and scant green or communal space." is about to be demolished, are forgetting what it meant to actually have to live in them, and that maybe looking at that time through rose tinted spectacles (especially when you didn't have to live there) doesn't deal with the problems.

RobinsAreTerritorialFuckers Wed 18-May-16 09:21:04

She is definitely making that point, I agree. I think I would have preferred it without the OTT language, and that's what made it sound sarcastic/mocking to me. But I'm feeling more charitable reading everyone else's responses.

nobilityobliges Wed 18-May-16 09:21:30

She's late 20s maybe 30 max (I know someone who went to uni with her). I don't think that disqualifies her from having an opinion. She doesn't say that she has lived in these in these buildings. She's saying that people who admire brutalist architecture because they like how it looks in a cityscape, but aren't the kind of people who have lived or are likely to live in it and hence haven't given any thought to whether it would be nice to live in it. I don't know if I agree with her but it's a perfectly sensible opinion for an under 30 year old to hold.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now