Sunday, 22 October 2017

Britain is a country with a Health Authority called Medway where old men no longer lanquish longer than necessary in hospital

With winter looming and health and care teams in Britain faced with the usual prospect of old men and women being left stranded on hospital wards because of the lack of provision when they are discharged, there is one area where their prospect is much brighter : the Medway Towns in North Kent. Here, the Medway Foundation NHS Trust has shown what can be achieved with the right mindset.

Working in partnership with 'Medway Clinical Commissioning Group', 'Medway Council' and 'Medway Community Healthcare,' the Trust has developed the 'Home First Initiative.' It provides support for patients who still require additional home support but, at the same time are medically fit to be discharged from hospital.

Since its introduction, 2,000 patients have been discharged under the seven-days-a-week scheme, which has four patient pathways, ranging from those needing little or no support, through to those with complex needs who may need intermediate care and may not be able to go home safely immediately. With this level of support in place, Medway has found that permanent admissions to care homes for the men and women 65 have halved since the introduction of the scheme which was implemented in April last year just a few weeks before a visit by inspectors from the Care Quality Commission. It used existing teams but removed historical 'territories' and created a single point of access for all coordination of a patient’s discharge. Under the new system patients have :

* transport arranged to their homes
* an assessment at home by an occupational therapist within two hours of leaving hospital
* a personal care plan for their therapy, goals, carer provision and any equipment they require
* if necessary, a care package which may involve 'telecare' and 'wraparound care', with people ringing to make sure medication is taken

Project lead Lisa Sladden of Medway Community Healthcare said :

"We know that most people would rather recover at home than in hospital and getting back to our lives and our routines is an essential part of that recovery. It helps us to regain independence, and allows us to receive care in a comfortable and familiar environment. 'Home First' aims to help patients do just that by working with community partners across Medway."

This is not the end of the story. Last year, before the Scheme was implemented, the number of days that patients, composing largely of elderly men and women, languished in hospital longer than was necessary was running at 774 days per month. That figure, after the implementation of the Scheme, has dropped to 475 days per month. Naturally, in an ideal world the figure would be zero, but Medway's 'Home First Initiative' has put its hospital patients way out in front in terms of speedy and supportive discharge from hospital in comparison with other parts of the country, where their counterparts continue to languish far too long in hospital beds.


Saturday, 21 October 2017

Is Britain no longer a country for an old Theatre Director called Max Stafford-Clark, ousted by inappropriate behaviour ?

Max Stafford-Clark, 76, has been a leading figure in theatre since the mid-1970s. He was the artistic director of the Royal Court from 1979 until 1993, when he set up the theatre company 'Out of Joint', where, abruptly, this summer and despite his advanced years, he stepped down to 'focus on his international freelance career.' Feted at the time as one the most successful theatre directors of his generation, it has now been revealed that, in reality, he was forced out after being accused of inappropriate, sexualised behaviour.

Twenty-nine year old Gina Abolins, told the Company Board in July, that he said to her : “Back in the day, I’d have been up you like a rat up a drainpipe but now I’m a reformed character. My disability means I’m practically a virgin again.” The "disability" he referred to was to damage sustained from three strokes in 2006, which left him using a walking stick and wheelchair and impaired his eyesight.

A statement by a spokesperson for Max said that he “wholeheartedly” apologised for “any inappropriate behaviour that made some former colleagues feel uncomfortable,” adding that it was never his intention to 'bully' or 'harass.' Apparently, he had suffered from 'pseudobulbar palsy' and “occasional disinhibition” since his stroke and his "occasional loss of the ability to inhibit urges results in him displaying disinhibited and compulsive behaviour and his usual, at times provocative, behaviour being magnified, often causing inappropriate social behaviour. Whilst this is an explanation it isn’t an attempt to dismiss his behaviour and he apologises for any offence caused.”

Gina, on the other hand, said her complaint referred to a number of incidents. She said that Max had previously asked her to try on a bikini she had bought and told her she should have casual sex and tell him about it. Having joined the Company in 2016 as its Education Officer, she said that she was left embarrassed and shocked after his "rat up a drainpipe" comment which subsequently prompted her complaint. “I didn’t know what to say and I felt really victimised actually. That was him exerting his power over me in a crude manner. I felt really bullied and objectified. To me, it felt that he was saying, "I’m going to tell you exactly what I would have done to you and there is nothing you can do about it". ”

Now, almost inevitably, other women have stepped forward to be heard. Twenty-five year old Steffi Holtz, who worked as his personal assistant in 2016, said he asked her about losing her virginity several times and told the 'Guardian' the Director had a reputation for always being “outrageous”, which allowed him to get away with making inappropriate comments. Like Gina, Steffi said Max had made comments about her appearance and on one occasion, as she was leaving his office, said : “You’ve got a really nice arse,” as he tapped her on her bottom. She also said : “The worst thing he said, I was sat at his desk and he said, "If you were sat on the desk there in front of me I would eat you out." Coming from a 75-year-old man, I was in absolute shock. You feel so uncomfortable...It makes me feel so uncomfortable to even say that.”

Gina also said Max had asked her and another woman about loosing their virginity during auditions for 'Rita, Sue and Bob Too', in which two 15-year-old girls have a sexual affair with a married man. In addition, the playwright Rachel De-Lahay said she was asked this question in reference to the play on a separate occasion and had : “found herself over-talking and rambling through this story” and later said she was angry “not because he asked me but because I had answered.”

Steffi, like Gina, said she wanted to speak out to help other women with similar experiences feel that they could come forward : “One of the most important things to me in my life is being a feminist, working towards equality and allowing women the same voice as men and to not have repercussions when they use that voice.” Gina said : “We are at an important time, where people are standing up and telling their stories. If more people can find the strength to speak out, hopefully we can make a real difference.”

Max, is by no means an 'evil' man but his reputation will now, no doubt suffer, both while he is alive and after he has gone, as intimated by Antony when he considered the death of Caesar :

"The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones."

When considering the 'good' that Max has done, it is worth remembering that he was born in 1941 in Cambridge, the son of the distinguished psychiatrist David Stafford-Clark and obtained his formative attitudes towards women and society from his family, his schools at Felsted in Essex and Riverdale Country School in New York City in the 1940s and 50s and his undergraduate years at Trinity College, Dublin in the mid 1960s.

In danger of being interred within his bones is his :

* work as the young Artistic Director of the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh from 1968–70

* work as Director of the Traverse Theatre Workshop Company from 1970 to 1974

* founding of the Joint Stock Theatre Company in 1974

*  service as the longest-serving Royal Court Theatre Artistic Director from 1979 to '93

* award of the 1981 London Circle Theatre Awards (Drama Theatre Awards) for Best Director of 1980 for The Seagull.

* founding his national and international touring theatre company 'Out of Joint' in 1993

* his award the Special Award at the 2003 London Evening Standard Theatre Awards.

* commissioning and directing the first productions of leading contemporary playwrights : Sebastian Barry, Caryl Churchill, David Hare, Mark Ravenhill and Timberlake Wertenbaker.

In addition and also, in danger of being lost, are the memories of the pleasure he gave to his audiences in his productions of : 



* 2000 : 'Rita, Sue and Bob Too / A State Affair'



* 2001 : 'Feelgood' and 'Sliding'








* 2002 : 'Hinterland', 'A Laughing Matter', 'She Stoops to Conquer'

* 2003 : 'The Breath of Life', 'Duck', 'The Permanent Way'
https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2002/oct/16/theatre.artsfeatures3



* 2004 : 'Macbeth'



* 2005 : 'Talking to Terrorists'

* 2006 : 'O Go My Man'
https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2006/jan/18/theatre

* 2006 : 'The Overwhelming'

* 2007 : 'King of Hearts'

* 2008 : 'The Convict's Opera'
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CkzPa7xPK9c&list=RDCkzPa7xPK9c&t=67



* 2009 : 'Dreams of Violence', 'Mixed Up North'
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y2VJ95mHUIo
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wE6SfQYzJEk







* 2010 : 'Andersen's English', 'The Big Fellah'
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ipPddbAMwF4



* 2011 : 'A Dish of Tea with Dr Johnson', 'Bang Bang Bang','Top Girls'




* 2012 : 'Our Country's Good'
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UQL_dCoA7U4
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sDHhFiFRlk4

* 2014 : 'This May Hurt A Bit', 'Pitcairn'
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=umWUPwFnl_A





* 2015 : 'Crouch, Touch, Pause, Engage'
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5us5dGnU-38&t=0m21s

★★★★★
“Brilliant. It wrenches the gut and makes the soul sing… Staggeringly moving”
The Times

★★★★
“Riveting… A cracking, heartfelt evening”
Mail on Sunday

★★★★
“Joyful”
Time Out


Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Britain is a country which has lost and says "Farewell" to its scarce 'old' campaigner for the 'Rights of the Disabled', Bert Massie

 Bert, who has died at the age of 68, once said :


“Life has been a battle. It’s frustrating, but I don’t do bitterness or hate. I have tried that and it’s exhausting. It’s shattering. I haven’t got the energy for that level of emotion. I’d rather forgive someone.”



His battle with life began shortly after he was born, Herbert William, the son of Lucy and Herbert Douglas Massie in the Spring of 1949, in the same Liverpool Walton Hospital, where Paul McCartney had been born seven years before. Three months later baby Bert contracted polio and he found growing up as a severely disabled kid in the 1950s and 60s working class Liverpool, that not much was expected of him : plenty of prejudice was in place and his horizons were strictly limited. As a teenager his sense of injustice was acute and by the age of 18 he had become a disability rights campaigner, a role he maintained for the rest of his life rising to the positions of Chairman of the Disability Rights Commission and a founding Commissioner of its successor, the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

He spent his first five years in Alder Hey Hospital, then the 'Children’s School of Rest and Recovery' and at 11 was packed off to Sandfield Park Special School, which was residential and when asked what was the worst time in his life ? He answered : "Endless operations as a child and boarding school."

It was now that he joined what he called the 'escape committee' when, with his mates, he perfected their Colditz-style escapes from school. With them, he would freewheel down the drive into town to get sweets and and a taste of the outside world and when they were cold or tired, would allow themselves to be picked up by the local police who were sympathetic to their situation. They would then be either bought snacks, taken back to the police station for tea, or given the thrill of being driven around Liverpool in a police car and this, at a time when Z-cars was playing on tv.

His life wasn't universally bleak and as a youngster, Bert enjoyed annual visits to a summer holiday camp in the Wirral for Disabled Boys and he was aware his disability afforded certain advantages and recalled :  “With polio there were no class barriers, middle class people got it, working class people got it; journalists got it, and footballers got it. I joined the British Polio Fellowship at 11 and had my first holiday through them at 11 when my brothers and sisters hadn’t even heard of holidays. I mixed with the middle classes and at last had an aspiration for education; for the first time I was encouraged to ask ‘why don’t you ?"

With no expectations that disabled youngsters would study for 'O', let alone 'A' levels, Bert left school without any formal qualifications. He described it starkly as : "In the 1950s there was a pretty low expectation of what you could achieve in this condition and you were doing well if you were still alive at 16." His interpretation as to why he didn't succeed at school, however, was interesting  : “In those days education was fairly basic. You weren’t pushed. I used to think I left school with no qualifications because of that and that I was disabled, but then I looked at the education of my brothers and sisters and realised it was just because we were working class.”

When he was 16, in 1965, he got his first trike which would ferry him around after he had shown up at an artificial limb appliance centre at a hospital in Liverpool, where the assessor met him with an 'invalid carriage.' He recalled : "The guy who assessed me was an engineer and he said : "Sit in this, I'm going to push you and I want you to push the brake down to see if you can stop." So we did that, I stopped it and he said, "Right, you're quite capable of driving. And that's how I passed my test." He added : "I had a few go on fire on me, so you'd stop and other motorists would drag you out as the thing went up in flames."

At this time the trike was a formative influence in his life. Bert already had "a strong sense of justice and injustice. My drive came from both a personal need and an appreciation of what was wrong. I started off fighting for access to cars when I was a young man because I had been given a Niblet three-wheeler and it one had one seat. Put aside the fact that it kept breaking down, I couldn’t take my girlfriend out in it!  There was a sign on the dash which said you couldn’t take passengers.  Liverpool police ignored it but the minute you got into Lancashire, they were waiting for you. I wanted to try and get a small car and so joined the Disabled Driver’s Association when I was 19, then the National Committee, campaigning that 'the car was an extension of you.' I cut my campaigning teeth on motability issues. But it was always, as much as it was about physical access, about attitudinal barriers we face.”

He next started work at the 'Liverpool Association for the Disabled' where the Director, having been paid a visit by nuns had said : "You’re a'teaching order', you can teach Bert," which they duly did, with Bert receiving private tuition for 'O' levels at the local convent with the nuns and a medieval history course, with him handling and interpreting original documents. As a disabled teenager, in the late 1960s, it was a common occurrence that he'd "go to a restaurant and people would say : "We don’t serve wheelchairs" to which he'd reply :  "Well that’s okay, I don’t eat wheelchairs."

The convent was located on the same site as a Teacher Training College and drinking with the student teachers in the bar, Bert observed : 'They may have A levels but they don’t seem that clever.’ Having resolved to go for 'A' levels himself, he found that there was nowhere physically accessible for him, so he gave up his job and went off to a specialist college for disabled people near Mansfield and then returned to Liverpool to take a degree at Liverpool Polytechnic, followed by a postgraduate 'social work' course at Manchester. He later confessed : "I would have been a lousy social worker" and "I was supposed to talk to people about their problems but once the problem was clear I would rather help put it right. I was accused by one of my lecturers of being task-centred."

Reflecting on the 1970s he said : "At that time there were no specific social security benefits for disabled people. After much campaigning they were introduced from the 1970s onwards. 'The Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970', improved social care for disabled people and also introduced what the Blue Badge Scheme. It was the first major legislation specifically concerning disabled people since the 1940s. Although it introduced the concept of an accessible buildings in this part of the Act proved ineffective."


Having graduated, he received a phone call from the newly formed 'Royal Association for Disability and Rehabilitation 'in London (RADAR). It was 1977 and he was 28 years old and, as he recalled the CEO "asked me to come and work for them and it seemed a good idea to get some vocational experience." In his opinion it was the 1980s which "saw the blossoming of the disability movement and a greater determination by disabled to influence the environment in which we lived and to design the services we used." It was in 1980 that he began working on a new taxi made accessible to disabled people : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gVTsTDsTSAg&t=0m57s

At the age of 41 he took over as the CEO of RADAR in 1990 and stayed for another ten years and recalled that the landmark : "Disability Discrimination Act 1995, came to fruition during my tenure, from a campaign we had started in 1981. We managed to get reductions in council tax for disabled people and we ran an information service which changed people’s lives." With perfect understatement he said that the campaign for the new Act : "was a tough battle, but we were backed by John Major who was Prime Minister at the time."

In 2000 Bert became Chairman of the Disability Rights Commission, which was set up to promote 'The Human and Civil Rights of Disabled People' and, in the Autumn, having been invited to give a keynote address at a major conference in Scotland had tried to board a plane to Scotland, only to be told that would not be allowed to take his seat because he was in a wheelchair. In Bert, the captain had clearly chosen the wrong passenger and within hours the story : ‘Chair of Disability Rights Commission refused access to airplane’, was bouncing its way around the world.

In 2007, Bert was a Founding Commissioner, when the Disability Rights Commission merged with other civil rights commissions to form the 'Equality and Human Rights Commission.' The following year he was appointed Commissioner for 'The Compact', which had been set up to promote better relationships between the Government, local authorities and the voluntary sector and in that position he served until 2011 and in that year said :

"Many disabled people have been invited to look to the stars, only to find the ground opening beneath them. It is clear, that without action now, the challenges of the coming years will create new patterns of inequality and disadvantage that Britain can ill-afford."

It was in 2007 that Bert received and became, 'Sir Bert', in the New Year Honours for 'Recognition of his work for Disabled People' and said: “I am delighted and while it is the nature of the honours system that awards are given to individuals, in practise the knighthood is also in recognition of the wide range of people it has been my privilege to work with, at the Disability Rights Commission and more generally in helping to bring about rights and justice for disabled people. I look forward to continuing to work with them on this vital task in the years ahead.”

When he was interviewed five years ago, Bert said : "The scale of how much there is still to do is all around us. Too many buildings remain inaccessible to people with mobility impairments. People who are deaf or blind still face communication difficulties and far too little information is available in suitable formats for people with learning disabilities. People with mental health issues receive inadequate support. The rate of unemployment amongst disabled people has increased since 2007."

He made the point that : "Although equality legislation and practise has a role, it is perhaps not a significant as the role of human rights. We should be pressing for all disability services to be based on Human Rights Principles. This would, of course, also apply to any public services that disabled people use such as health and social care."

Seven years ago, Bert described himself as :

"An ageing disability activist who fears that the equality successes of the past might be undermined in the future, thus placing disabled people at a further disadvantage."

When asked the question : "If you could give your younger self, advice, what would it be?" He replied :

"Choose battles carefully, plan strategies diligently and pursue them fearlessly and relentlessly. Never underestimate your opponents. Learn their strengths and how you can overcome them."

What better epitaph for an 'Ageing Disability Activist ?

A final word from Bert, speaking as a patron of  'Disability and Deaf Arts' at its launch in 2012 :

http://www.dadafest.co.uk/news/video/dadafest-2012-launch-speech-sir-bert-massie/

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Britain is a country which once made, then regected and now reveres an old architect called Neave Brown

It is with supreme irony that the Royal Institute of British Architects has awarded a Gold Medal to Neave, an architect known for some of the most innovative and successful low-cost social housing of the late 20th century. This, to an architect rejected by Britain 50 years ago, is perhaps an elegy, since Neave, now 88, is suffering from terminal lung cancer. He has the distinction of of being the only living architect to have had all his works 'listed', that is, considered to be of 'National Importance' and preserved as such.

Neave himself, completely free from rancour, has been delighted by the news and said : “All my work! I got it just by flying blind, I seem to have been flying all my life. The Royal Gold Medal is entirely unexpected and overwhelming. It’s a recognition of the significance of my architecture, its quality and its current urgent social relevance. Marvellous!”

Neave, who was born in 1929 in Utica, upstate New York, to a Minneapolis-born American mother and and Leicester-born English father, Percy, whose grandfather had made a fortune with a string of shops selling boots and shoes in the Midlands. Neave's younger years were dominated by his wild, unpredictable, alcoholic father who set up and dissolved businesses in succession and when Neave was three, moved the family to England.

Neave attended a good local school and then a prep school, but over the nest seven years his father moved the family no less than 12 times. With the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, Neave was evacuated to the States to live with his Aunt and Uncle to live in the rich New York suburb of Brownsville, where he was educated in, as he said "a very good American High School."  Of his Aunt, he said she was a "quasi mother" and he "loved her dearly." She sharpened his critical faculty by asking questions like : "What does that mean ?" and : "What did you mean by that ?"

His mother and sister joined them for the duration of the War and in 1945 they returned to his father in England where he was educated from 16-18 at the prestigious boys public school, Marlborough College, which had been founded in 1843 for the sons of Church of England clergy. It was here that, despite the fact that he was dyslexic with poor spelling and illegible handwriting, he won a scholarship to study English Literature at St.Edmund Hall, Oxford and would take up his place as an undergraduate after his two years National Service. In the Army he was commissioned as a young officer in, as he said, a "cavalry regiment which was an old one and a snob one and all that." 

When he left the Army he went to Paris to see his Aunt, who had set up as a pscycoamalist and with her financial support he began a course of therapy which lasted throughout his next five years as a student and helped him cope with his "internal conflict" which was the result of his having "a very divided, very upset, very confused and very conflict-laden childhood." 

At the age of twenty, while he was in the Army, having toyed with the idea of pursuing a career as an artist when he was at school, he opted for 'architecture' and having secured a scholarship form Middlesex County Council he enrolled at the AA, London’s private architecture school, run by the Architectural Association and the only school in Europe totally dedicated to teaching modern architecture.

Neave speculated that : "It may even be me, on a subtle level, why I wanted to become an architect, because you make bases. You make places. You make events come together in something called a building and I think there's an aspect of that in accordance with the way I wanted to operate with the world." He described the experience at the AA as "a staggering relief, because it was free, relatively, of the class, social and certain kinds of limited cultural associations, that had been waded at me from different sides as a child and it allowed me to feel that they began a degree of independent thought." The School and its contacts was also important to him because he was now completely without a family, his mother having separated from his father and returned to the USA,

Neave said : “Very little had been rebuilt after the war, there was still smog and food rationing, and we were confused schoolboys coming out of the Army with a naive view that we wanted to change everything.” It was only with hindsight that he told Mark Swenarton in 2013, that he recognised the unique set of historical and cultural circumstances within which he had found himself  when he joined the AA in 1950 : "The thing about that independent thought, remembering this was just a few years after the War, it was in the context of the radical thinking of the Modern Movement between the two Wars" and "There was the whole problem of the reorganisation of England, the remaking of it and the idea that you could remake it and improve it." http://www.aaschool.ac.uk/VIDEO/lecture.php?ID=2276&t=12m50s

Having graduated in 1955 at the age of 26 and at a loose end, he flew to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania and designed a house for his sister which didn't get built and an up-country hospital for an American Methodist Mission, which did. He later reflected that he was : "Straight out of the AA. Never built anything and in Dar es Salaam writing a brief for a hospital. I don't know how I did it, but we wrote a brief accepted and they agreed the brief, together with their bloke who knew about hospitals."

Back in Britain he now joined 'Lyons, Israel and Ellis', a practice which provided a finishing school for both him, James Stirling and James Gowan. It would be a three year stint and he described it as a "training hotbed" and "You went their in the morning and you worked : drawing, drawing, drawing and you argued and you talked and every now and then you argued with the partners. I can't imagine a better place for learning  what you needed to do. It was like continuing an education."

In addition the working "like a bloody demon" he found that "You learnt what you were doing from the overall building, you adapted the overall building to the technical aesthetic and then you worked the whole kit and caboodle out in accordance with that aesthetic to be as beautiful a you could make it." In accordance with these principles he designed a new workshop building for Hammersmith Hospital before he left the practice and joined Middlesex County Council.

While he was at Middlesex he designed 5 schools, two of which were built and also taught evening classes at Regent Street Polytechnic and after a relatively brief stay at the Council he left and gained his first experience of urban housing designing a couple of houses and extensions and a small terrace of houses. This served as a prelude to his design, in 1963, for a small terrace of 5 modernist houses for himself and friends in Winscombe Street, in London’s Highgate. They applied for, and received a 100% loan form Middlesex Borough Council and he later reflected : "Not only did they pay for my scholarship at the AA, they loaned the money for the construction of those houses. It seems incredible.”

At the age of 34 with his design of 22-32 Winscombe Street in Dartmouth Park, North London and their completion two years later, Neave showed the world what he could do. Children’s bedrooms were placed on the ground floor, with big barn doors opening on to a communal garden; the parents’ bedroom and living room were at the top, while the family zone was in the middle, the whole connected by spiral stairs. “It was built as a community, an extended family,” he said, When you heard children’s laughter downstairs, you were never quite sure if they were your kids or someone else’s.”

It was towards the end of the building period that he crossed the Atlantic and did a semester teaching at the University Cornell University in Ithaca, New York at the invitation of Colin Rowe who became the Professor of Architecture in 1962 and went on to be acknowledged as a major intellectual influence on world architecture and urbanism in the second half of the twentieth century. Neave, however, rejected the idea of becoming an academic saying that : "I think I would have been a bad academic because, if you're teaching and you have attitude, you teach with that attitude,"

Following the Local Government Act of 1963, the London Borough of Camden had been created in 1965 and its new Architects' Department was placed in charge of Sydney Cook who recruited a talented team of young architects, including Neave, who joined in 1966. In Sydney's eight year tenure, he oversaw 47 social housing projects of a quality, scale and ambition that has, arguably, not been surpassed in Britain.

Neave's first project for Camden involved 71 units at Fleet Road, near the Free Hospital in Gospel Oak, which was to be Britain's first high density low-rise scheme. It was here that he reinvented the traditional Victorian London terrace as two and three-storey blocks that ran in parallel rows with a central pedestrian walkway. He created light-filled homes, each with their own private terrace and a shared garden. In addition, it contained the features Neave would incorporate into his Alexander Road project : car parking located beneath, a variety of types of accommodation, a mixture of rendered facades, clunky, black-stained timber windows, balcony fronts, external staircases and a public realm above the car parks.

After this, Neave recalled, that he "went to see Sidney Cook one day and he said he would like me to do Alexander Road. It was a typical planning brief. Camden had got a 16 acre site. The minute they started it, people popped up from Camden, they said : "We need a site for a school. It's going to need a community centre, school, extra parking, the integration of the existing estate." It became an incredibly elaborate brief. In order that they lose housing density, the planners then realised that two acres of that four acre site would be taken for housing. Can you imagine, in your thirties getting a brief like that ? Just dumbfounding. So I started it, in complete confusion."

The result of this confusion was his masterpiece with, most strikingly, Neave breaking away from the Modernist tower template to create low-rise ziggurat-like terraces where, inside, light streamed into the duplexes, with open-plan kitchen-living rooms and bedrooms above. “It was a piece of city,” he said, "all integrated : 520 new homes, shops, community centres, a school, youth club, play centre and it wasn’t hierarchical but continuous."


Neave is poetic in his description of his craft as an architect in relation to Alexander Road :
"It comes to a moment or so, when the thing becomes secure in your mind as to the overall strategy and it needs endless development and that development is what you see as the architecture in the end. It's not just the overall form which produces a continuous environment which fits the overall site, but then in the process of doing this. there is the enormous struggle in the detail to arrive at something that in the end looks inevitable, almost as if it hasn't been the product of struggle."



Ironically, Neave's greatest achievement would also prove to be his undoing as an architect in Britain and bring his career here to an abrupt end. As Neave said in 2013 : "Though we began Alexander Road with the full support of the Housing Committee, the Director of Housing changed and took against it. The political system took against it. We ended with a history of constant conflict which still makes me shudder. As we got through to the end of the building it became, also, highly political and the politicians instigated a Public Inquiry as to what went wrong with Alexander Road before it was even finished. To their surprise, people longed to live there, but the consequence of that was it would be very difficult for me to find work in England, after all, you don't do to an architect whose work has been put up for a Public Inquiry to see what's gone wrong." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJ_6UuAFJdQ&t=1h40m22s

Neave resigned from Camden in "confusion and despair" and he didn't work in Britain again.
It is however, important to remember that his type of housing was expensive and sometimes complicated to build. It had its growing pains and the heated walls at Alexandra Road initially made the residents boil and it was often poorly maintained by the Borough, leading to a degraded public face. Mainly, however, Neave was a casualty of a powerful swing against 'Modernism' that ended his run of great London housing and a swing that came as much from the 'left' as from the 'right'.

Britain's loss was to the gain of the Netherlands and his design of the Zwolestraat Development, Schreviningen, The Hague, which consisted of 500 apartments, hotel, school hostel, landscape and the largest underground car park in the Netherlands and 'Smalle Haven' in Eindhoven in 2002 with terraced apartments shopping and office space.

Speaking this summer and reflecting on his work in the 1960s and his own mortality Neave said :

“We thought these buildings would be the beginning of a new continuity, but instead they were closed away in the architectural cupboard. What has astonished me is that people are looking at these buildings again. Perhaps after the Grenfell Tower fire it seems relevant again. Perhaps it could be the beginning of a new rethinking of architecture . . . What a way to end.”

And, as a parting shot he has said :

 “I’m an old, old man, so my answer is probably not the right one, but I think we need a new national agency to govern standards and fund the construction of housing for properly mixed communities – crucially with maintenance costs financed for the whole life of the building.”

His aim as a architect, which he achieved in his work, was to create something :

"as beautiful as you could make it"