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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Monday, August 11, 2008
    Bring on the poltergeist

    Whilst reading Chris Allen's Housing Market Renewal and Social Class today the words came back to me of this gem of a poem which I enjoyed in my youth. Even though a couple of the cultural reference-points are a bit dated now, still the opening verse describes so critically well what Allen calls 'the dominant view of the market for houses, as a space of positions and position-taking', a middle-class view which is assumed to be the only one, despite many others in society having radically different attitudes towards housing.

    I found MacNeice's classic in a book on my shelves which was itself a teen favourite of mine: This Day and Age, Stanley Hewett's paperback anthology of modern poetry, published in 1965 and still very much in use in 1978. Two things struck me on reacquainting myself with this massively influential book: first, it bears the mark MANOR HIGH SCHOOL CROSBY, an establishment which no longer exists so I couldn't take it back even if I wanted to; and secondly the realisation, holding it in my hands, that it's now over thirty years since I shelved that book after my 'O' levels and started work... And still, like the daft-headed youth I then was, like grown-up radicals like MacNeice and Allen whose work thrills me today, I'm keen to continue invoking the poltergeist.