By Chris Harrison

We came to Hillview, late, in ‘77, bedraggled pigeons driven to roost, acting on instinct, a magnetic
Polarity urging the way for our little bird brains, to these, our then down-and-out, cliff-edge, nests.
Our Council betters (believe it or not) drew plans to empty and demolish our homes and dreamt
Of huge and storied concrete car parks pictured, no doubt, in high key architectural brochures,
Brutally clean rectangles against a bird-less sterile sky where should have stood our humane smutty
Except then comes Maggie and steals the Council’s car park money and in a land of unintended
(For surely she did not mean to save us wretched squatters’ homes) Hillview people stood and put
down roots!

Some old tenant outside his old flat, lingering-on, and a squatter chatting in ‘79, with gentle
You always lived here? (fresh-faced 70s sociology student, planning a possible Hillview project,
remembers asking),
“Nah love, lived all over!” punctuated with an all-encompassing careless wave of an aged anchortattooed arm.
Whereabouts (ancient mariner)? Kathmandu? Timbuktu? (scenting links to old empires for an
otherwise dull thesis),
“Nah love,“ he says (the doddery index finger now jabbing more precisely around the filthy courtyard),
“I lived first there! At number 40, then at 21 and then at 37 and then … and then… ALL OVER!”

So an old man’s small scale history then, his family’s, his neighbours’, free from high politics and
Almost unremembered, almost razed, but certainly titanic in their epic battles to survive in poverty for
Through disease and the parasites, six legged and two, The Great War, Depression and Blitz.
Not Maggie’s flag-waving, Union-Jack-on-a-tail-plane history, nor sound-bites’ falsifying hand-of,
But a real-life, lived-in and relentless history of all our base humanity’s struggles against all the odds,
And in the face of spivs and speculators in the coming years, unless we accidental and blessed
Inheritors of Hillview honour and remember their stories and add them to ours,
We’ll betray those who fought before us and impoverish those that come after.

Commissioned by Poet in the City and Hillview Residents for Hillview Poetic Histories 2019 ©