Saturday, 31 January 2009


Aden House, circa today, 31 January 2009.

This photo of the same floors was taken on 20 November 2008.

Yes, five new squats in two months, on a council block ten minutes walk from ours where we'd heard that all the power had been cut off, except to council residents. Judging by their lights in the evening, the squats have restored their leccy. Not bad, eh.

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Londonist interviews Atom Tom

The Londonist has published just this lunchtime an interview I recently did with them about my story as a squatter. The interview was a cool opportunity, to put across a view of squatting, particularly in light of the recent Mayfair squats that have been in the news.

An opportunity like this was in fact something USgal and me had discussed when I first moved in way back in October, about how to engage with the mainstream about squatting, because as newcomers, we wanted to highlight the value of what we were doing. I am glad to have played a part in supporting the squatting world in this way and in challenging its public misconceptions. With many thanks to Lindsey.

Sunday, 25 January 2009

The tale of two squats

'Fluffy squatter'

These squatters will more often than not replace the Sitex sheet with a front door on their new premises (or just add a new lock to the existing door, if one is still there). They're looking at their squat as becoming a home of sorts and will do it up. A Section 6 will always be on display on the door (as not evidenced here).

'Junkie squatter'

Simply put, they only require a place to shoot up and don't care for anything else about the flat they have broken into.

I am contrasting the two, only because their respective front doors are interesting to note and are quite revealing. The two squats featured here are actually next door neighbours and yet they are miles away from each other. Of course, there are many more other types of squatters.

The point is, we cannot all be lumped into the same box, aka squatter=junkie.

Friday, 23 January 2009

Keep your junk(ie) in your trunk

Back we are to the squat -- it's still standing and its contents are safe.

Oh, and we have some new neighbours!


This is the work of junkies -- ripping open the Sitex of boarded up flats and crawling their way in for a hit. Since junkies only need a place to score, they are unlikely to care about where they do it.

There has been a 'nest' of junkies in our council block before (and they're still there, on the first floor). It's easy to tell when they're in, usually by their arrival time -- 2 or 3am, when they clamber themselves through the metal sheets in their many, like zombies scuffling out of the dark and eager for food.

This clambering obviously makes a lot of noise, as the metal is either taken off the windowpanes or just jumped through. Also, hearing the elevator busy at work at 2 in the morning is unnerving, especially when you know that the residents who still live in this block are indoors by 10pm.

It is the clattering Sitex that brings in the attention of cops, thanks to residents dialling them in. We don't need the police around. Even though there are 'fluffy squatters' here, the police don't care, they don't see that distinction, we're all the same to them.

We don't need any annoyed police officers, restless from not having caught their 'junkie-of-the-day', sniffing around our squats in the hopes of a catch, or a reason to catch.

Right now, they're sniffing about in a street adjacent to our block which, according to USgal, has been turned into a drug net and is being patrolled by plains clothes drugs police!

Together with the few drug punters hanging about for their dealers, and using our parking lot as their waiting room, and our home feels a bit unrecognisable. It's like walking on to the set of a crime drama. The flat smashing seems not to have deterred anyone, and has instead contributed to the estate's new ambience; some might say they created it.

Although Kitchen Sink Neighbour has told the junkies that our floor is a no-go zone, it's not a helpful tactic for those families who still live in our council block. We need unity of some kind, to repel this menace. Right now, we're not sure how.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Thanks a million

The London news is all a-buzz today over a pair of £30million squats in Mayfair.

Times like these serve of course as good opportunities to engage the usual general public. The Evening Standard vendor I chatted with about the headlines of his newspaper was taken aback that squatting was legal in England and that I was a squatter (I didn't look like one, he thought, ie. dirty-looking). Although he wouldn't be one to squat himself, he did approve of living rent-free, saying that rent only benefitted landlords and "the system".

Here are some press snippets :

"Squatters set up home in Duke of Westminster's £30million Park Lane mansions" the Daily Mail proclaims, referring to the band of squatters within as hippies, activists, freeloaders and stragglers.

The Sun is appalled that squatters are living rent-free, just yards from Madonna's house!

Meanwhile, just doors away is the £22.5million squat at Clarges Mews, which has been taken over by a group of artists known as Da! Collective, operating here as the Temporary School of Thought. Although this time round they are choosing to shun the mainstream media, they were interviewed in November and December 2008. The commenters of this Evening Standard article think squatters should be locked up!

Unconcerned with eviction, the School are holding open days, where anyone can attend workshops ranging from welding to "laughter", as well as live music, films and discussions. Photographs of the squat can be viewed here and here. Wonderful stuff, and a breath of fresh air from the more politically-focused squats I've been in of late.

Here here to more energised debate.

Monday, 19 January 2009

Jacket Potato

Some useful reading about squats or related around the world...

Thinking about squatting in Amsterdam? Well, Barcelona @ van Boetzelaerstraat 1 has been keeping a detailed blog of their exploits in, although we're not sure anymore, thanks to their most recent entry, "Breaking News! We're fucked!" According to them, Parnassusweg, the Intergalactic KingDOOM of FuckYou, has ordered all our troops to be destroyed by the 31st of August, so it remains to be seen if they are still in existence.

Can Masdeu in Barcelona is proof that squats can be of any size -- in this case, an abandoned hospital!

Squatter City reports on squatting from across the globe. News stories include 400 families being pushed out of their homes in Cambodia; the postponed eviction of 20,000 squatters in Caracas; and the so-called 'City of Smiles', Bacolod City in the Philippines that is preparing to eject 3000 squatters from its boundaries. Informative and vital reading.

It has also been reported that Tascheles, the iconic squat in central Berlin of 10 years, is facing eviction. If any of you have partied in Tascheles, taken in a film or hung out in its backyard, this is surprising news.

In related shutdown news, the Londonist has reported on the recent closure of the London Astoria, one of the city's landmark music and club venues. All in the name of transport redevelopment (by the name of Crossrail). Take a last glance at the Astoria before the bulldozers come in.