• Vol. 07
  • Chapter 12
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When many first moved to new homes which sprouted during the regeneration of the mid 1990s, they found themselves in the same boat as diverse families who had moved from areas tainted by either The Troubles or personal history, hopeful of a new start.

In the first flush of fresh new housing, they found the untainted children delightful: revelations to jaded hearts. Like their own carefully raised progeny, these were respectful and eager to take advantage of a bright new estate with wonderful housing and a prime location for facilities with access to the countryside.

As a consequence, neighbour adults didn’t scowl at them as default, but merely ushered them away if their games became intrusive. The gardens were open plan with no fences: the borders set by genuine consideration rather than anything solid. There were a few minor infringements, but these were dealt with by open and polite communication between neighbours.

Then the “Social Networking” policy was introduced. Using the hypothesis that a functional neighbourhood could have a positive reaction on “troubled” families, the latter were imported from ghettoes they themselves had formed in public housing elsewhere and salted throughout areas where the inhabitants could safely walk without being accosted, molested or otherwise targeted. At schools, meanwhile, children were being introduced to the dizzying power of preferential legislation.

Within less than a year of the introduction of these policies, squabbles broke out; respect for elders died and rumours were spread about anyone who didn’t fit into the new festering stereotypes.



Ordinarily respectful children were being urged by flies in the ointment to peer into the ground floor bedrooms of pensioner and disabled flats, treat others’ property as public territory, and to throw muck balls at houses as initiation ceremonies into the “cool” set.

Up the street from once wee corners of paradise settled fungal spores which developed into drug selling, shebeen infested, swinging mini-ghettoes with freelance knocking-shops. Those who either refused, or were too soul-tired to move, yet refused to buckle under were vandalized, tormented, and targeted with every vile and clandestine strategy which deviant cowards, bent on their sad little notions of supremacy, could come up with.

The ignorant lobbyists had rushed off in their white chargers after an idealistic fantasy long debunked by experience and the “rotten apple” idiom/atavism. Irrespective of good intentions, such apples will never suddenly become whole and hale if just thrown into a barrel of fresh ones. Plus, saviours to nurture the multitude with overflowing morality tend to be sparse on the ground.

The sickness spreads, and is inherited by passing generations. All that was new and fresh carries the pungency of attar and the turgidity of despair. It may strike the passerby as odd that silage from nearby farms clears the air, rather than befouls it, but he or she are ignorant of the past and blind to the present. The alcopop and prescription drug generation flees before the everyday scents of yesteryear, leaving temporary vacuums free of depraved and egocentric minds.