Monday, 6 August 2007

Housing a Crisis

While the factors of increased immigration combined with a slowdown in house-building are oft-parroted as the causes of the housing shortage in this country, few pundits seem to have much to say about the biggest reason of all for the UK housing shortage - namely the breakdown of family life, marriage and the concept of live-in relationships in general and the fact that virtually every time a household breaks up an extra household is created.
Is it considered too 'judgemental' or 'Nanny-stateish' to mention? Or more to the point is it the case that if it were acknowledged, someone would then be obliged to do something about it? Other than the lavish £20 a week incentive to marry suggested by the Tories (which might just about pay for the wedding day by the time of most divorces!).

Or might government acknowledgement of the problem lead to a more uncomfortable line of questioning straying dangerously into the psychological, aka why, in an age where it's theoretically never been easier to be gay, straight, bi or just housemates with a global pool of partners/friends to choose from, and with the majority of us claiming we don't want to be lonely, are so many of us paradoxically opting for our own front doors?

And is there a parallel between this growing preference and that other selfish desire - to each cocoon ourselves in our very own tin box transport rather than rely on communal transport or live closer to where we work?
Not that public transport currently makes itself amenable or even a viable option for many, granted.

However neither of these choices sits well with the green remit. Indeed there are few choices more environmentally-hostile one can make than living alone and owning one's own car. Sharing and co-operation would seem to be the only green and future-proof options. Guardian: Solo Living's Eco Threat BBC Single Households 'waste energy'

I speak as a paid-up hypocrite incidentally, fully guilty of both. Which isn't to say I actively chose to remain unmarried or 'put my career first' as the euphemism goes - and I keep the gratuitous driving to a minimum, own few gadgets, and re-cycle to the best of my ability. But after a life that didn't quite work out in the way I might originally have hoped and two stressful housemates with 'problems' in succession, I needed a break from living with 'other people', whatever the financial stretch. Hopefully one day I will be able to share my space, and even my life again, fully. But for now I relish the sanity and peace of my own space and the chance to re-charge the inner batteries!

But all this is by the by. What is 'other peoples' excuse? Do all single people have problems that render them unable to live harmoniously with one another? Why do so many relationships and marriages break down so quickly? Do we all give up too easily these days or are we dizzied by the potential global 'sweetie shop' of partner choice to the extent that we never make a full decision about or commitment to anyone, on the basis that we might meet another we like even better just round the corner? Perhaps the pervasive influence of drink and drugs have had a greater effect on societal breakdown than anyone dare admit. Certainly I like to hope I've always worked at most relationships and entered into them with hope in my heart that they might be for life and not just for Christmas!

It seems that social engineers as well as civil engineers will be needed to construct a more cohesive society, and long-term happiness and how to attain it might also need to be key ingredients in the housing-for-all equation, if never quite developed into a science as exact as floor loading!

For my poem 'Great Britain 2030' which relates to much of the above, visit Oliver's Poetry


Henry North London said...

I'm afraid its my fault I cant live in a house/flat with less than 700 sq ft with any more people than myself other wise it feels crowded.

I don't know how people live in those awful box houses with low ceilings and those cramped rooms.

I live in a two bedroom flat with my dog and there simply isnt enough storage space for two people's stuff and I'm not renting a storage room.

I am of course being highly ironic, but good quality housing is at a premium it has to be said.

Tongue firmly in cheek of course!

Anonymous said...

over 70% of the assets of the usa are owned by women, and 80% of divorces are initiated by women in the usa. I doubt if the statistics are much different here. It is women,not men, who are responsible for marriage \ relationship breakdown. Modern women DEMAND it all. The perfect career,man,marriage,house,children etc etc. When it doesn't happen, they blame the nearest man, dump him, and eventually find some other poor sod to blame for everything about their own lives that doesn't fill them with endless joy and happiness.
Modern women need to toughen up; like their mothers and grandmothers, and accept some degree of responsibility for their own lives, and face the shocking fact that life is not a party laid on for their benefit. They have more personal wealth and freedom than ever before, and the more they get, the more they whinge.
No wonder men are scouring the internet for mail-order brides.The most important qualification these women must have is that they are NOT english or american.

The Poet Laura-eate said...

I reckon the main problem arises when anyone (man OR woman)is asking for more out of a relationship than they themselves are willing to offer and it becomes an unequal trade-off (and everything in life is a trade-off even love, sic Jane Austen)

But yes, expectations are probably far too high on both sides these days (not least driven by the media and our ludicrous culture of celebrity/glossy 'lifestyle' workship). Plus without religion to bear some of the brunt, I think people are increasingly expecting a relationship to fulfil their spiritual needs as well, which is one heck of a strain for any partner - when expected to be THAT special!

Then there's the shifting gender role confusion. What is a real man these days? What is a real woman? Will we ever get over having fixed ideas about this that haven't moved with the times, and which get in the way of forming meaningful relationships? Not that I personally wouldn't do the stockings and suspenders thing if asked nicely! Manners it seems, have also fallen by the wayside!

As for the three-for-one Thai bride deals, I think these 'sweet' and 'suppliant' dames often get their own back by fleecing or deserting the men who expect that they're in for some easy ride/life. entirely on their own terms!