Lynsey Hanley was brought up in ‘Area 4’ on the outskirts of Birmingham, half way to Coventry, on one of the largest estates in Europe. She writes eloquently about the physical nature of the estate and the consequent psychological barriers, of living on the edge among a ‘fistful of dead ends’, of the cultural isolation, the self censorship, the self imposed ‘wall in the head’ where cultural preferences, music, magazines, ambition were signifiers of which side of the wall you were on: us or them. Where, simply to wear a baggy jumper to school was seen as a rejection of the values of ‘us’ and to side with ‘them’, to invite ridicule, bullying. The wall in the head, that destroys dreams that things can be different. This book is not a doom laden whinge, it is a lively, life affirming call for democratic action, to create towns and cities that foster aspiration for all.
Estates: An Intimate History (2012) Lynsey Hanley. Granta