Air Space

Air Space.. I’d never heard of it until I watched the film Burlesque.

Cher’s club was saved from an unscrupulous property developer that tried to woo Christina Aguillera with his millions. Until she discovered his plan. To knock down the club that was home to a little community of dancers, musicians and bartenders.

Me and my girl love the film but I’ve never thought anymore about air space beyond a trip to Austria where I paraglided off a mountain and flew alongside an eagle with a random fella attached to me. Austrian .. Nice bloke!

That is until a letter came yesterday afternoon that made me investigate further.
In the film the little club was saved as a rival developer who was about to sell his luxury flats overlooking the sunset strip and the ocean, paid them for thin air in order that those ocean views would not be compromised.
No sea views from here but the forest sits across the road.

Yes, that’s right the property developers have turned up in my corner of the world.
Only unlike Cher this is a less happy ending.
All the recent new legislation hidden under the cover of covid has made it a done deal for those with rights to the roof to build on top.
Another two floors in fact containing 12 flats in total across all three blocks.
But only for a developer who wishes to turn our quiet residential flats by the forest into an 18 month building site
News travels fast as all my Friday plans turned to dust in trying to find out more. The letter only mentioned one block. But secretly attached to the lamp post was the bigger picture. All of us would be affected as well as the little houses that sit in this quiet close and will see 3 monsters emerging towering over then in a way that we e don’t right now.

Who cares? Why does it matter?
Because it does. Because these are our homes and the rules are completely weighted against us.
It’s just life. It’s just business, it’s just change, it’s just evolution, it’s just the modern world.
Accept it!
Do you mind if I don’t.
I’ve read all sorts. Previously it would have been more difficult to push these things through.
As the little flats community converged to work out what to do there was an optimism that “right” was on our side.
Only when you read up on it as I did, the law now disagrees. And when I investigated further it’s happening everywhere. Anywhere where there are green spaces.
What was previously a place not on the cool list is now a very desirable place that people want to be.
So let’s build up.

All that hard work to hold on to something that felt like it belonged to me and I could seek refuge in. Refuge from all the other many changes that make me feel like I don’t belong. But it didn’t matter because I belonged in this friendly and unpretentious place.
That belonging feels like it is being attacked by the usual greed of everything being about money.
When the pandemic began lots of people came to the forest and parked their cars on a field at no cost.
Now it’s become a cash cow as parking costs have been introduced and it has gone from the people’s forest to a nice little earner.
Just little by little always making things a bit harder for the average Joe.
Pricing people out of things they always loved which then become the playgrounds of those who can afford. Once they arrive changing it into what they want it to be with more expensive prices as a sausage roll becomes a gourmet sausage patisserie.
Take me to Greggs.

Of course these new flats will have a tag of affordable housing. Affordable for who? I couldn’t afford my own place now.
They were barely affordable when we bought it 20 years ago. Stretching to the very limit of what we could borrow to afford it and so happy with what we had.
People telling us we should upscale but I didn’t ever want the pressure of that. I was happy with my little lot.
I didn’t need more space. It was quit and we had a whole forest on the other side of the road.
We could pay the bills and still just live.
Giving up the luxury of bigger and better homes and cars for more fun time with my girl.
Sacrifices made in not having more kids in the hope of just living a good life with what we had.
Life can be pretty harsh and that along with changes and different choices and difficult times saw that once happy life being lost. I take my responsibility in that.
But so much effort and anxiety went into saving the little that was left. This flat.

But of course a pandemic threw a spanner in the works as it took away livelihoods whilst dealing with more harsh realities.
I’m certainly not alone in that.
And other challenges of life being magnified by a lockdown. But I keep pushing through.
It certainly has taught me how to survive in this world even though in many moments it’s been very difficult to “just live”.
As I listened to all that initial pandemic talk of “we’re all in this together” I knew that it was just words.
Always feeling my closest near as they dealt with their own versions too.
In the end you’re always in it on your own.
When the chips are down and you are just trying to survive you have to rely on yourself.
While a beautiful new glossy world is being marketed whilst behind the scenes people are getting shafted al over the place.
Did we all rise above our stations?

This stuff has always bothered me but now it has become personal.
Like having my home, my space, my peace, my safety being attacked with no form of defence.
A lot of the residents in the flats are older. Been here their whole lives. Many of them now widowed.
Living a simple life in peace and quiet.
Sometimes I wonder if I’ve morphed into them before I remind myself that I’m just trying to take care of my girl.

Instead we have the prospect of that peace being destroyed by a building site.
All to give our 1960’s flats a modern look on top.
“To ease the housing crisis” apparently.
I wonder if these people who make the rules for others would like someone to come along and build on top of their houses.
But of course the rules will never affect them. They are very detailed in that respect.

It’s hard not to feel disheartened again as I painted my fence today. One of the jobs I had in my list yesterday but felt no motivation for. Knowing that should it be approved I will be able to spend very little quiet time in it.

Just so those that can will buy those flats and then rent them out charging much more for a tidy profit.

To end on a higher level myself it did prompt me to have a “fuck it” moment as I decided to purchase a cheap return flight to Naples to attend a friends wedding. With a couple of days to enjoy before.
If I’m gonna have my quiet space invaded I might as well enjoy something beautiful in advance.
Argo covid!

Sing it Cher!

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