The Nice Movement

Dave Haste
By Dave Haste Last edited 128 months ago
The Nice Movement
Evil cat

This weekend column is brought to you by the founders of Niceties Tokens, Liz and Pete of Team Nice.

44. Neighbours

So do you talk to your neighbours?

Some of us do, some of us don’t. Some of us are polite but wouldn’t engage in a street party, some of us prefer to have the wonderful anonymity that London brings. Is being part of a community a good thing or a bad thing?

Good neighbours will take in your post and include you in their Neighbourhood Watch. But a close-knit community could potentially ostracise anyone that didn’t fit in, gossip about you and not respect your privacy.

Residential parts of London probably don't have the same sense of community that a little village in Dorset might. A big factor in creating a community is housing and town planning. Is London anonymous because we all live too close together and crave privacy?

My dad explained to me about when architect Le Corbusier, created Unité d'Habitation, the inspiration behind the tower block, he meant for it to be a beautiful community, a block of flats with shops and cafes inside and communal spaces for everyone to share. His utopia didn’t translate too well in English when our 1960s tower blocks were made. Many homes were needed, and little space was available. How that would impact on London culture was not a priority.

Nowadays architects and town planners recognise that influence on society much better and take it into consideration for the future, so maybe in 20 years’ time we will know all our neighbours’ names and tea or coffee preferences.


Yet recently my cat went through a stage of catching big goldfish from a neighbour’s pond, but I didn’t know whose garden she had got it from. It was a tricky situation. Do I own up or not?

I didn’t. I reasoned that first I would have to door-knock everyone to find out who had a pond, then offer to pay, and then what if they were coy carp? My lack of community spirit has probably saved me, and my evil cat, money but not good karma…

By Liz Akers

Last Updated 11 May 2008