10 November 2017

Suburbia

Old village water pump and "The White Swan" in Greenhill
On Wednesday morning,  I undertook a suburban walk before my afternoon shift at Oxfam. Greenhill was bathed in sunshine as I wandered about the area for a couple of hours. In this time I saw whole streets of low-rise social housing as well as a semi-detached wonderland of private homes with extensions, block paving, security lights and front room interiors by IKEA or Oak Furnitureland.

I was reminded of a similar suburban walk when I was eighteen. It was a hot day and two pairs of neighbours were chatting at the end of their driveways. As I passed by, I overheard one of the arm-folded women declaring, "We exist on snacks". That phrase has always remained with me, like a piece of poetry. "We exist on snacks" - the motto of the suburbs.
Sixteenth century manor house in Greenhill
Up Greenhill Main Road, I came to two pubs - "The White Hart" and "The White Swan". The former appeared to be on its last legs as the roadside pub sign was missing from its frame and on the front wall of the building there was an ominous "For Sale or To Lease" sign. I first went in "The White Hart" in 1980 after a parents' evening in nearby Rowlinson School where I used to work. Alas, that school was also resigned to history even before this new millennium arrived.
St Peter's Church, Greenhill
The two pubs are in the oldest part of Greenhill with several old stone buildings and even a listed manor house. It's easy to imagine the little agricultural village that was, in the course of time, consumed by Sheffield's urban sprawl. Now it's just another part of the suburbs.

I looked the word up - "suburbs" I mean. It was hatched way back in Roman times. Our familiar modern term grew directly from the Latin suburbium - meaning close to (sub) urb/urbs (city).  However, I doubt that any Roman ever visualised what a modern English city suburb would be like. with its twitching curtains that conceal so many suburban dreams.
Social housing in Greenhill

23 comments:

  1. Thanks for taking us along on your stroll! I hope the White Hart gets a new life as a pub, but who knows.

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    1. So many English pubs have fallen by the wayside. you have snapped a few yourself Steve.

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  2. That was an interesting walk, accompanied by interesting information - thank you!
    Hmm... the motto of the suburbs is "We exist on snacks"? I can't really see how the one is connected with the other; I grew up in a suburb (Ludwigsburg's Weststadt), and neither our family nor our neighbours did exist on snacks. Now I am closer to the town centre (but still technically in the Weststadt), and if it weren't for regular proper meals at my customers' canteens or with O.K. or at my parents', I would definitely be existing on snacks, and snacks only!

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    1. I'm thinking more poetically about the word "snacks"...A snack is not a complete meal. It is just something to keep you going or something you eat when you are bored and there's a lot of boredom in the suburbs.

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  3. I'm not sure if I misunderstood or if you've erred in the first caption - the sign on the building is White Swan but in the caption it says White Hart. I only mention it because I know you don't like mistakes in your work!! You can delete this comment either way.

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    1. We all make mistakes and I thank you for pointing this one out for me Jenny. If you had been a native American you would have been called Eagle Eye!

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    2. Or perhaps critical jacka--! Okay, now you may delete all this :)

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    3. I don't wish to delete it. I like this stuff.

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  4. Wonderful old buildings. Over and over I am amazed by the sheer age of so many structures there. Perhaps a lot of them have survived because they are made of stone, where our early buildings were mostly wooden. We have here a number of re-built historical settlements (few and far between) and they are done in wood so I assume most were.

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    1. We are blessed with historical buildings in England and in this area of Yorkshire there were many stone quarries. I think your wood v stone theory is correct Great Eagle Eye of Mi'kma'ki.

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    2. You really do your homework, YP; I am impressed with your reference to the Mi'kma'ki lands.

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  5. You certainly do walk a lot, Yorkie.

    I hope Shirley ties you to the bed at night (I'm not referencing Fifty Shades)....you never know where you might end up if you start walking in your sleep! :\;)

    Happy Weekend to you.

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    1. Have you got secret cameras in our bedroom Lee? Perhaps you have seen my alter ego - Tarzan swinging from the light fitting!

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    2. My mind boggles! lol

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  6. I was going to ask about the meaning of "we exist on snacks" but you have covered that so all that's left is to ask what happens to all the pubs? why do they close?

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    1. They close because people drink less these days and many who do drink drink at home. Also the breweries squeeze pub landlords and managers so much that they often live precariously on the breadline.

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  7. Hi! What's interesting also is how "suburbs" change - in England, as you say,you think of semis with gardens and dreams, whereas in some other countries it conjures up images of rundown blocks of flats full of people who don't even have enough money to dream. What I mean is,the same word has very negative connotations if I say it to my Catalan students, for example.
    I've been looking in on you from time to time YP, but finally decided to leave a comment once again because a promise (threat) is a promise, and you did tell me to let you know if I ever reactivated my blog! I have, to release my rants on what's happening where I live now. I've done a few posts but not sure if I can find the motivation to keep going. Only time will tell.

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    1. Nice to hear from you again Brian. I have often thought of you and your family during the recent events in Catalonia. I shall visit your blog again tomorrow.

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  8. And I doubt any of us could imagine what cities might look like 1000 years from now. To be honest, I don't think I'd have a prediction with any accuracy for what things might look like 50 years from now.

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    1. I guess that you and I will look like skeletons or ash fifty years from now!

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    2. Yes you've got it right as to what we would look like.

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  10. I went to Guides at St Peters Greenhill and I used to walk through the village every day on my way home to Bradway from Jordanthorpe school
    I was in Sheffield yesterday for Woodseats venture unit 50th anniversary dinner. During the day I had a walk down Ecclesall road and through the cemetery that is at the back of Psalter Lane, which I didn't know existed! And I thought I knew Sheffield!

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