So it came to pass.
Post Grenfell tower horror everyone who lives in a tower block that has been clad in those ultimate empower new clothes of shiny metal with strange foam jammed inside has been nervously peering at their not asked for and unwanted cladding. In our block it took a few days of attempted communication with the digitally deaf large landlord company to even get a reply but it was with a cynical sigh of relief that greeted the measly tweet from the Landlord Ltd that the block was safe.
One week later, despite everything being ‘safe’, a fire guard was sent to live in the block with the assurance that he would leap up 12 floors of flats to knock on the doors in case there was a fire. Of course having often asked for sprinklers and a fire alarm and having to watch a popular live in house caretaker get the sack for standing up to Landlord Ltd this seemed a remarkable step.
Still at least the fire guard, who on the breakout of flames would be able to run through them and up flights of stairs like a wheezing comic book superhero with his cape singed by 1000 degree flames and flaring Hollywood nostrils full of acrid smoke and then carry out intoxicated by fumes residents would keep us safe. ish.
The block was now ‘safe’…until the latest missive that points out that some of local blocks may indeed be covered with the money saving, dread, danger cladding and it would all have to come off – now no one knows what blocks these are but it doesn’t feel good…and finally another missive where we have been told that the unpopular cladding will have to be stripped off but we are assured that no one has to move out and be left, at best, to sleep in a sports centre or at worst wander the streets pursued by local TV film crews. Perhaps now with our living in the belly of the toxic beast position we could get frontline seats watching the barely trained builders unpeal the toxic cladding and strange foam insides for a dusty and messy couple of months…what could possibly go wrong!
Living in a block of flats is a strange and disconnected experience. It’s a world where residents are treated with a sniveling contempt and sneering disdain from landlord companies which change hands or names faster than the residents unheeded complaints are fired back at them.
Of course in 2017 we have become accustomed to this level of disservice. In a country where a Nurse’s plea for a decent living wage is met with an imperious glare and cutting put down about money trees like a modern day marie antionette solution for peasant famine was met with a glaring ‘let them eat cake’… we know that the public are mere conduits for wealth, scurrying rodents whose pockets have to be turned out for all the loose change to finance yachts like ‘sir’ Phillip Greens.
When our block was chosen for cladding a few years ago the reaction of residents was a mixture of pissed off and dubious – some even made outrageous suggestions that there was money to be made by the cladders! The owners sent round a badly photocopied missive promising that the whole scheme was to ‘improve drafts’ – of course the opposite happened – drafts are worse and there is an added curious howling sound of the northern wind finding its way through plenty of new gaps and cracks in their handy work.
Where will this all end? It feels disconcerting to have lived in a block that was a fire hazard for several years and the future looks uncertain.
Complaints were met with disdain and occiaisonal visits from Gangs of bored builders who would turn up mob handed to unnerve residents who were told they were the only people complaining – the usual ‘alternative fact’ that dominates modern life.