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To feel sadness whenever I go on a council estate?

(207 Posts)
TheHolyToast Tue 30-Jan-18 09:58:41

I was brought up on a huge council estate. It was the happiest time of my life. I used to play out with all the local kids, every night after school and every day during the holidays. The older kids taught me how to ride a bike and i still remember the feeling. The ice cream man used to come around and the siren sent all the kids running to their houses for money. The neighbours thought nothing of feeding kids that were not theirs - you'd simply go back to your friend's house and the mum would be like "so and so's bairn is here, put some extra fish fingers in". We would go and explore the local woods, play in the overgrown gardens of empty houses, everyone was happy and carefree. Everyone was friends.

Then my mum remarried into money and everything changed. All of a sudden it was "common" for kids to play in the street and I was sent to organised clubs instead where I didn't like anyone and they didn't like me. I changed school and the atmosphere was different, everyone compared how much their clothes and holidays cost, nobody just wanted to have fun, it was all about showing off what you had. I started playing truant as I quickly became friendless. There was no more playing in woods, no more "sweet van", god forbid you turn up at someone's house uninvited, you'd be sent straight back home again. I hated it and longed for our old house.

Anyway, 25 years on and I'm a community nurse now. I'm often working on council estates and in particular, my old estate. The sun always seems to be out in these areas, like I remember it.

The other day I went into a house that was identical to my old house. The memories started flooding back. The brown corduroy sofa and cheap mahogany furniture, Jackie from next door and the swinging chair she had attached to the ceiling. I started to feel upset but carried on with my work. Then at 3.30 the kids came bursting in, dropped their bags, announced that they were playing out and the mum shouted "make sure you come home for tea, fish fingers and waffles" then bang. The door shut and I watched the kids running down the garden path with their friends all stood near the gate waiting for them. I ended up quite upset at this point and the poor patient asked if I was ok. I told her her house reminded me of my old house and it was bringing back happy memories. She laughed and said "you lived around here? I thought all you nurses were posh? Surely you can't miss living on here??!" But I really, really do.

Money doesn't bring happiness does it? I feel it's ironic that throughout our lives, the focus seems to be on improving our financial circumstances yet the happiest time of my life was when I was at my poorest.

AIBU to pine for this stuff when it everyone else's eyes, we were just another poor family claiming benefits on a council estate?

BrownRedShirtPhobia Tue 30-Jan-18 10:03:11

Money doesn't bring happiness does it? I feel it's ironic that throughout our lives, the focus seems to be on improving our financial circumstances yet the happiest time of my life was when I was at my poorest.


Myddognearlyatethedeliveryman Tue 30-Jan-18 10:03:56

Totally agree. Too much pressure on dps for kids to have loads of 'stuff' and out of school 'activities' when you childhood was brilliant in many ways!! Maybe not for your dps who likely worried about bills etc - but proves you aren't damaged from lack of money spent!! Sounds like your job makes a difference to those folk so well done!!

Littlechocola Tue 30-Jan-18 10:08:31

Laughing at her thinking nurses are posh grin

I completely understand op. Money really doesn’t buy you happiness.

HesterShaw Tue 30-Jan-18 10:09:11

In the kindest possible way OP, you can tell that you were a child when you think your happiest time was at your poorest. You didn't have the money worries, because you were playing with your mates in the sunshine (and I'm guessing there may be a touch of rose tinted specs going on re the climate back then). As an adult, being poor isn't happy and fun usually. It's worrying and stressful and insecure. No money doesn't buy happiness exactly, but it does buy security and can ease stress.

I don't think you're describing the dire, grinding, miserable, cold poverty that some on MN grew up with. I think you're just" feeling nostalgia for a lost childhood. This adulting is hard work.

musicposy Tue 30-Jan-18 10:11:47

I feel sad that they've all been sold off.

We thought it was wonderful at the time, giving people a chance to buy their houses - I remember it well. But the ex council houses round the back from us start now at £350,000, a price my late teen/ young adult children will not be able to afford. Thirty or so years ago, born in the village, they'd have been in with a good chance. The rich have pushed out the families who have lived here for decades and it's down to the government.

I also look at what was given to ordinary people then and think that compared to now it was amazing. Solidly built houses with lots of green space, and a community feel. Now we demonise people who aren't earning a fortune. So many things in this country need a rethink.

TheHolyToast Tue 30-Jan-18 10:12:17

I can see your point, I do have vivid memories of my parents arguing over money and we never had holidays or anything like that. I suppose it is the childhood I crave rather than the area but I was also a child with money later on and I remember being lonely and depressed as a result.

SugarPlumFerry Tue 30-Jan-18 10:13:19

Yanbu at all for pining for happy memories. I have wonderful memories of playing "out" and in the massive council garden with those crappy little fences, that we could all jump over and play with neighbours children, having the best time in school, mooching round the local shops as a pre-teen etc.

How old were you when you left? I grew up there and when I got older, I remember the car fires, the stabbings, burglaries, being afraid to walk through the estate during day time after being attacked, being curb crawled at night by men in cars with blacked out windows, the fights in the street I witnessed with women jumping up and down on another womans head, drug dealers and the sheer amount of drug use and alcohol just around etc. My family received death threats. I'm not saying all estates are the same, perhaps mine was especially bad, but you don't see things as a child that you do as an adult. I still cherish my childhood memories but I am glad I'm not there now and I wouldn't want it for my children.

It's funny though, I do go for a little google earth wander round my old estate sometimes and have some lovely nostalgic feelings ☺

fantasmasgoria1 Tue 30-Jan-18 10:14:17

I grew up on a council estate. Not because we couldn’t afford to buy a house but because my father was worried about redundancy and who would pay the mortgage! We did play out with friends but we were not in other people’s houses for tea! I did enjoy playing out etc I was lucky, my friends didn’t have all of the things they wanted, I did because my father had a good job!

ThisLittleKitty Tue 30-Jan-18 10:14:35

I live in a council house (though not on an estate) it's nothing like how you described. No kids play out and none of my neighbours talk!

MissDuke Tue 30-Jan-18 10:15:31

Why don't you move there if you think it would make you happier?

bluegreygreenlilac Tue 30-Jan-18 10:16:53

I think you’re being a bit silly, to be honest.

It’s true that money doesn’t buy happiness but it’s also true that poverty doesn’t translate into happiness either, especially for adults.

It’s a very rose-tinted view that children come in from school and go to play ‘out’ happily. Sometimes it can be but sometimes it can borderline on neglect, if not being actual neglect. I have similar reactions to those Facebook memes about ‘congratulations if you were born in the 70s or 80s.’

TheHolyToast Tue 30-Jan-18 10:17:24

This council estate has an amazing community feel to it. Yes it's rough and has a "notorious" reputation but the good people are wonderful.

I do think it's worse now than it was in the 80s and you don't see the big gangs of little kids mooching about these days - too many cars, drugs and wrong-uns but I do feel sad that my kids never had those kinds of friendships that I had.

SaucyJack Tue 30-Jan-18 10:17:40

I think it's just a childhood nostalgia thing.

Poverty really isn't very much fun for anybody.

Kingsclerelass Tue 30-Jan-18 10:17:49

I know what you mean about being allowed to wander around without an adult, I do wish my Ds had that. But not the poverty.......I remember being cold for an unreasonable proportion of my childhood, and I don't feel the slightest bloody nostalgia for that. smile

bluegreygreenlilac Tue 30-Jan-18 10:18:08

Well, as a PP said, you can always move there smile

MadMags Tue 30-Jan-18 10:18:57

I think it’s easy to be nostalgic about it when you weren’t dealing with the sociopath-economic that adults face.

Your parents gave you a happy childhood and that’s lovely.

I had a wonderful childhood but I’m under no illusions; our area has severe problems and even more so now. I wouldn’t feel safe walking down the streets I played on.

TheHolyToast Tue 30-Jan-18 10:19:36

Missduke, I live not far from it, around the corner to be exact. It's that close that day for example the estate is called HolyToast estate, people call our area "posh HollyToast or "royal HolyToast"

Coloursthatweremyjoy Tue 30-Jan-18 10:21:27

I think it's telling that your patient (adult?) Thought it was strange that you missed it. Things are different when you are a child you don't have the money worries and stress. Still I can understand why you feel sad, particularly as you lost the childhood you loved so much.

Now, fish fingers and waffles...I have some in the freezer I think...

MorrisZapp Tue 30-Jan-18 10:22:41

I think it's normal to be convinced that your own childhood was happy and carefree. After all, you were a kid with no responsibilities. I wonder how many council tenants raising kids feel happy and carefree.

As an adult, you can make your own choices now. You could move back to your old estate, but I suspect it looks very different through adult eyes now.

GreatDuckCookery Tue 30-Jan-18 10:24:01

You can still have money and children that play out and are happy believe it or not.

I think you are massively looking back through rose tinted glasses OP.

MorrisZapp Tue 30-Jan-18 10:24:20

I'm middle class to the bone and my son lives on pizza, pasta and beige freezer food. It's allowed! You just eat whatever you want.

TheHolyToast Tue 30-Jan-18 10:25:26

To be fair, people suggesting that I move there now has made me realise it's not the area I miss, just the people, community spirit maybe? Being a child?

Sign of the times I suppose. Where I live now nobody talks to one another and kids don't play out - if they do, neighbours complain about the noise. It's sad.

Lillyvanilla Tue 30-Jan-18 10:26:33

We were just another poor family claiming benefits on a council estate
I'm probably taking this the wrong way OP (and apologies if so) but I get the impression that you see every family on a council estate as claiming benefits.
If so, this is definitely not the case. I know many people living on estates who have bought their homes (often out right) and who work hard with good educated jobs and don't need to claim benefits.
I also know people living in 'affluent' areas in debt up to their eye balls.

AnachronisticCorpse Tue 30-Jan-18 10:27:44

We live on a new build estate with about 30 large detached houses and a terrace of five HA houses. I’m friendly with all the tenants.

They organise events like Easter egg hunts and Halloween parties, the kids (including ours) are all in and out of each other’s houses, we have a WhatsApp group for borrowing sugar and milk etc, taking in parcels. It’s really really neighbourly and it’s driven by the tenants, and then me and a few of the other owners have been welcomed into the fold.

I don’t know any of the other owner neighbours past saying good morning.

I’ve posted about it before, I’m not sure whether it’s a class divide or upbringing or whatever but I love it. Our DC are growing up knowing the local kids in a way that they wouldn’t if we still lived in our old street, there was no playing out and they only ever went on arranged play dates.

It’s not perfect, most of the dads smoke weed openly and there have been some shitty behaviour problems from the older kids, but it feels like a community.

That said, although I think it’s lovely for the kids, I wouldn’t want to be in the position of some of the parents, either scrabbling for cash jobs, working three MW jobs, barely surviving on ESA. It’s easy to be rose tinted about it from a privileged position.

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