Tuesday, 19 July 2022

Cnut Songs #16: “I remember when this was all fields.”

Another sign you’re growing old is that you find yourself uttering the statement above. It was this thought that led me to do a Top Ten Fields Songs on Snapshots this week. 

How many times do you drive down a country lane you’ve known all your life only to find that a new housing development has erupted like a zit where once there were only fields? Urban sprawl seems to be happening more and more these days, and areas I always assumed were green belt are being swallowed by hideous new identikit homes. Charmless, characterless, spaceless (modern houses are always built too close together to maximise profits) homogeneous blights on the landscape. Monstrous carbuncles, as Prince Charles had it. I must be getting old if I’m agreeing with Charlie.

Over the past ten years, I’ve lived in two such developments. The first time, we lasted 18 months. The second time, just over a year. In each case, the house in question was less than five years old; in both cases, we weren’t the first owner. So many people are tempted by shiny new things, only to discover the utter lack of soul makes them stultifying. I’d rather live in an old house that needs work but wasn’t built with the soul motivation of maximising profit for the builders. Also, the idea that new houses don’t need work is a myth, since they’re often so badly built – with costs cut at every available opportunity – that they start falling apart the second an owner moves in… and sometimes even before that.

But maybe you don’t have to be getting on in years to feel regret over new developments. I took Sam swimming last week and as we were sitting in the car park, we stared across the road to where JCBs were tearing up another field. “Why are they building houses there?” Sam asked me. “It’s spoiling the view!”

John Gorka knows whereof I speak…

They're growing houses in the fields between the towns
And the Starlight drive-in movie's closing down
The road is gone to the way it was before
And the spaces won't be spaces anymore

I guess no one should be afraid of change
But tell me why is there a fence for every open range
It's a sign I'm getting on in years
When nothing new is welcome to these eyes and ears


  1. I "love" how they so often name the new development after the trees they cut down to build it.

    1. Or the previous buildings, even. We lived on Weaver's Mill Way... because once there had been a textile mill there. As though some romanticised link to the past makes you overlook all the shoddiness of the present...

  2. Love that John Gorka song. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Yes, really like that song too.

    It definitely applies to our town - fastest growing in the U.K. apparently but only because of the vast sprawl of new house developments eating up the farms. No shops, services or any sense of community in any of them. So sad.

    I’m going to send this post to DD as she is looking for a house with the boyfriend and they are concentrating on new builds. Problem is they would always be outbid on an older house by people who are buying without even viewing the place - usually people from south of the border!

    1. Alyson (pesky anonymous)

    2. I feel sorry for anyone who's trying to buy at the moment. Thd current housing market is a scandal. I'm glad we got our last move out of the way in the pandemic, before it all went mental.

      I hope DD finds what she's looking for.

  4. All you say is so true, Rol. More and more of the countryside around here is being developed, quite scandalously too (some very underhand methods of getting planning permission have been exposed). I've also lived in a new build flat and wouldn't recommend. The roof leaked, part of the wiring burnt out, we had a plumbing problem because the wrong size pipes had been installed... (Now we live in a 200-year old cottage which certainly has its quirks - but it's been standing so long it's all bedded down now!)
    Sam's comment has made my heart sing.

    1. You won't go wrong with a nice cave, C. They've lasted since the Stone Age....

  5. I remember saying to Mrs CC that this was all fields when I get was a boy to which she replied that was half a century ago!


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