Fathers’ day is a disturbing time of year. Full of joy and cheer thanks to my wonderful wife and daft daughters but full of dread and despair thanks to the ghost of my father, who died before I was a teenager.
All ideas contain the idea of their opposite.
Housing policy has suddenly become a lot more newsworthy due to the horrific fire in Grenfell.
The images of confusion, anger and grief have touched many of us and left us deeply disturbed.
Questions come to mind but answers bring no respite. Even if we find out why the fire happened people will still have died and others will live the rest of their life haunted by grief and trauma.
The idea of social housing contains the idea of home ownership.
British people almost uniformly aspire to own their own home. Governments have responded to this desire in a range of broadly ineffective ways.
Both the desire and the response have done much to traduce the idea of social housing.
Everytime people say they want to own their own home they are also saying they do not want to live in social housing.
The coalition government put lots of money into subsidising mortgages and cut the amount of money spent on maintaining social housing.
When challenged on shoddy work contractors have often said to me “what’s it matter, it’s social housing”
But fewer and fewer people own their homes. It’s as though the very desire to own our homes makes it harder for us to own our homes.
Wanting something contains the idea of never getting it. Like sisyphus we push and we push but we get no closer to the top of the hill. All the while we’re haunted by horrors from the past, the shame of our unrealised dreams and the pity of our efforts.