Stories from the Aylesbury Estate Pt. 1

The flatmate showed me pictures of the Aylesbury. He lived there for five years, back in the 80’s. He said his flatmates would take sulphate all weekend, starting on Thursday night and continuing through until Monday, dropping acid when they were at the absolute low from taking sulphate. “They said it was better then, you felt the effect more. One of my mates ended up going into therapy and counseling for four years after one acid binge too many – he just didn’t come back.”
He showed me a picture of the guy in question, taken on a beach when they went on a trip to Israel. Good-looking guy with a sort of New Wave 80’s look with the shades, the brushed up blonde hair and the chain around one of his boots. Like a fan of Human League or Duran Duran or any of those 80’s bands.
The Aylesbury is full up now. No room for any overflow from the Heygate or anywhere else. Yet it’s still heavy. Just before Christmas a dozen or so kids set upon some poor pizza delivery man, beat him, robbed him. And stabbed him in the neck.
He told me that the ramps which inter-connect the Heygate used to run right through all the estates, right down to Burgess Park, a distance of about a mile. “You could go right from the shopping mall to the Park without once touching the ground. The police made them blow up the ramps between the estates. Criminals would commit some crime then have a couple of miles of gangways to escape into one of hundreds of flats. The police couldn’t catch anyone.”
He lived in a squat on the Aylesbury for five years. The working class tenants had been suspicious of him and his mates at first, “but they calmed down a bit when they saw we weren’t some thieving junkies. Me mate – – – had a posh sort of accent – he was public school – and I moved around so much when I was a kid I didn’t have any accent at all. They were more like ‘don’t make too much noise breaking in,” after that. But one night six big geezers came round, thinking we’d knicked something from one of the flats. They didn’t know it was us, but we were squatters and to some of the tenants all squatters were scum ‘taking homes from decent people’. So they tried to kick the door in to get at us for four straight hours. Luckily, we had bolts in from the back – the door was a lot stronger than we had thought because they would have had to take out the doorframe and a whole section of the wall. But there we were, six skinny potheads waiting inside for these geezers to come bursting in until they finally gave up and went away.”
“Why on earth did you stay five years on the Aylesbury?”
“I loved it! It was close to everything, all my mates were there. It was a laugh.”

5 Comments

  1. Yet again, stereo typical against ‘kids’, is it only kids who commit crimes? Was it only ‘kids’ who used to run away from the police? I very much doubt it! I am a teenage girl who was brought up on the Heygate, and I’m sick and tired of youngsters taking all the blame for the crimes on such estates.
    Have you ever wondered why there is so much crime on council estates? Maybe it is because of poverty in these area’s or Maybe it’s because the “police” who where so busy trying to catch the ‘kids’, should have been working with them to make sure that they have something to do with there time instead of committing petty crimes. If they would have done such a thing, these petty crimes would not have turned into serious crimes such as murder and drug dealing.
    When you are young growing up on these estates, believe me when I say you get very bored! Yes, you play games with fellow children, but when you grow a little older, these games are no longer fun and then you start looking for things that could be fun, and on run down estates like the Heygate and The Aylesbury, there is nothing fun around. So children start committing petty crimes and getting chased from the police, who don’t have a clue where they are going on these large estates, hoping not to get caught. Some may not see this amusing, but when you are around 11 or 12 years old bored of playing run outs with friends (a game), or going to the same youth club with nothing but a pool table, table tennis, and a table with colored pens and paper to draw pictures to decorate the room, the adrenaline rush you get from losing police on your own territory is much more fun. If not just the police but the whole society would have taken notice of this at the time, then the petty crimes like breaking windows and fighting, wouldn’t have turned into binge drinking and killings. I am not saying that this makes these crimes okay, for there is no justifying reason for taking another person’s life, but the government needs to start accepting part of the blame instead of dishing it out to every teenager in areas like these. Even to hang around, seen as there is nothing else to do, with the same childhood friends, when you have grown into 17 year old teenagers, wearing jumpers with hoods, you are automatically accused of being a ‘gang of hoodies’. Why? If you where to be with this same group 15 years later, in the same hooded tops, you would not be classed as a gang, people would not be scared to walk past you in the street, so why when you are teenagers you are automatically stereotyped? This is because of the way youngsters are portrayed in the media. I am not denying that there are crimes on these estates, and that it is teenagers who cause some of this crime, but if people where to start highlighting teenagers for the good they do, instead of it to be expected of them, not only would teenagers not be feared by other groups in society, but it could give them something to be proud of and to aim for, a word that is not often associated with teens, Success. Instead, the only way for teenagers to be recognized is if they have committed a crime or worst case scenario, are dead. Who is to blame? Think about it!

  2. Hey there, thanks the message. If you read on elsewhere in the blog, you’ll see I talked a lot about how un-threatening I found the kids on the Heygate, despite all the media hype. Read the posting on New Year’s Eve for a good example . . .

    But I appreciate the perspective. I changed the comment about ‘kids’ running away from the police to just plain criminals.

  3. It anonymous again, I’ve just read what i wrote and i feel that i should apologise for the way that I snapped as though it is you who writes all the things about teenagers in the media. Its just that as a 17 year old, I feel that the way that teenagers are stereotyped isnt fair. Have you watched the carlton documentary made on the estate ‘Living on the edge’? I participated in it when i was 11, looking back i cringe but such is life, and the way that the director edited it, makes things look quite different to what they were. but maybe you should watch it and se how things have changed since 2001. Thanks for changing the words, it makes a big difference, to me anyways. C.

  4. Dear C,,

    Thanks for your comment. It’s okay, i know kids here get a bum rap. Despite what the papers say, it’s really not that bad.

    I haven’t seen the documentary but I’ll look for it. I’m sure things have changed a lot in the last few years.

    I said some (hopefully) nice things about the kids on the Heygate here:

    http://livefromtheheygate.blogspot.com/2008/01/new-years-eve-on-heygate.html

    Anyway, thanks for your comments, you write well. Feel free to write again.

    Tim

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