Friday, September 23, 2005


I've long been convinced that the decision about where to live is generally the most political decision anyone ever makes.

Twelve years ago that conviction drove me to make a decision about where to put down roots in Manchester; not in the trendy suburbs of Chorlton or Didsbury with the other young professionals, but in a decidedly rougher neighbourhood.

My thinking then and now was primarily about socio-economic factors, levels of depreivation or affluence. It's hard to explain my choice and the strength of my feelings about the need for integration on this score without launching into a major diatribe about disposable income, sustainability, mixed skill bases, diversity, keeping your ears open to the cries of the poor and so on and so on. I'll spare you that.

Besides, I'm not sure how well I can explain it, I'm kind of used to being a bit of a crackpot on this one; too far out from the pack to be able to communicate clearly what the reasoning behind the conviction is.

The best I can usually manage is to say that I feel that as our society tends evermore to separation and segregation, there is a choice to make: build bridges or build higher fences. I'm not for fence building.

So it's with interest that I've been reading this week about Trevor Philips' views on religous and race lines.

"Residentially, some [UK] districts are on their way to becoming fully fledged ghettos - black holes into which no-one goes without fear and trepidation, and from which no-one ever escapes undamaged,"

I hesitate a little at his completely negative write off of such areas, but much of the wider points he makes ring true.

Personally, leaving all the politics aside, for me it comes down to this: I like my neighbours.

I like our diversity our interaction and our tiny, tiny way in which we're breaking down barriers.

Give me the choice of sharing homemade samosas or self-congratulatory vintage wine and I know which I prefer...every time.

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