From There… To Here

The social history of Wester Hailes

LAST IN THE PRESENT SERIES…

Over the last couple of months, we’ve been running an occasional series featuring a tiny fraction of the wealth of poetry penned by local writers down the years. Often humorous,  sometimes  more descriptive and reflective, but generally upbeat and optimistic in tone  – each piece has been vivid and interesting in its own way.

Here’s the last, for the time being, a poem by Donald Brand written in 1986. This one’s more hard-hitting and angrier, harking back to a time when Wester Hailes was burdened by a whole raft of housing problems. Donald recounts a tenant’s painful process of disillusionment from getting the keys of a brand new house in a just-built scheme to feeling that “I’d be better off in a tent”.

WPM192/H – HOUSING DEPT. REF. NUMBER

Anniversaries are made to remember
To remember some happy event
But this anniversary is here to remember
To remember a non-event.
 
In ’74 we got the key of the door
The door to a home bright and new
And with hopes as bright as the sun that shone
We opened the door and walked through.
 
The inside was clean as a whistle
The outside was spotless as well
The bags were unpacked, the table was set
The first meal had a wonderful smell.
 
Settling in was at first something strange
After living with the in-laws, somewhat strained
We fitted our first ever new carpet
Bought furniture of a bright and new range
 
As the months rolled along and along and along
Now you know what new houses can do?
And as sure as it’s said after losing my head
We now number, happily, four.
 
But now comes the bit, the buildings are sh..t
The harling has gone from our walls
The place all around is like a dog pound
And young artists graffiti our halls.
 
The children at first were sweetness and light
No longer you say this of them
They are mindless and cheeky with nothing to do
And make our lives hell and mayhem.
 
It’s time to get out, I say with a shout
And write to ask you “Please help”
Alas and alack I write but in vain
I’m still here. How long must I yelp?
 
Anniversaries are made to remember
To remember some happy event
Three years I wrote for a move
I’d be better off in a tent.
 
So help me dear friend and bring to an end
The twelve years of horrible bore
Please brighten our lives and give us fresh hope
The key to another new door.
 
  – Donald Brand
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