Things you notice when you leaflet

Leafleting the Bush Grove estate for the first time since the general election and approach the house where my finger was sliced open by the hound of the Baskervilles, as I shoved Barry Gardiner’s smiling face through the letterbox, with some trepidation.

The “What part of woof don’t you understand?” sign had been taken down, but I size up the door with caution; reflecting that last time there had been no warning. The dog had been waiting silently on the other side waiting to sink its fang into the first bit of flesh that it could sense. This time I use the safe leafleting technique of folding it so it was stiff enough to go through without requiring any fingers alongside it. The dog can’t have been lurking in wait this time because there was a furious scrabbling of onrushing paws on lino, an enraged growl and the leaflets disappeared through the door with some rapidity, and in some distress, as the jaws of the beast tore them apart.

Around the corner in Old Kenton Lane there was a semi detached house; owner occupied on one side, buy to let and turned into flats on the other. The buy to let side was scruffy, the paint peeling, roof sagging a bit, amazon cardboard box in the window, front garden mostly mud. The owner occupied side was prosperous, tidy gardened, solar paneled, with its paintwork in good nick and roof clear of moss. The owner is probably worried about what next door is doing to his market value, but that’s the price of a market society and the failure to build enough decent social housing. The previous week on The Ridgeway we had passed a mattress and a load of building rubble just dumped on the pavement. One of the neighbours told us that it was put there by the landlord of the house – unwilling to pay the council the charge for taking it away, so they just dumped it and waited for the clean up crew to pick it up anyway.

The drift in this area is for more and more buy to let, turning “invincible suburbs” into a less sniffy, but rougher, places to live. The regulation (or suppression) of private landlords could very well appeal far more widely than people think.

The solar panels are also a clue to the way climate change is being mismanaged. People who can afford it have invested in solar panels or home insulation – are saving CO2 and making personal financial savings subsidised by everyone else. But this is done on a pepperpot basis. On my road, about three houses have been insulated. You look at them and they are fatter than the others. To make a difference we need ALL the houses to be insulated, starting with the people who can afford it least.

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