For most people, I would imagine this image provokes a number of thoughts. Distaste, disgust or even disbelief are possible candidates. You may feel sorry for the student occupants, after all thats who often inhabit dwellings in this state. Perhaps they disapprove of this flimsy millennial generation and despair at their tardiness and apparent lack of "dignity" or "self-respect" hosting their ghastly parties and dressing in all manor of "unsightly garments".
For others this image may be upsetting, a visual representation of the decay of many student city housing estates around the country. Once beautiful rows of meticulously maintained victorian terraced houses now lie in a state of disrepair and decay. A ring of two factors is at play here. Student tenants are not living in these houses long enough, nor do they have the finical means to renovate and maintain their lodgings. Equally, landlords would not dare risk investing anything in properties that might be trashed by an ill-fated house party or little-caring dwellers.
I don't see any of these things. When I lived in a house just like this, I would take every opportunity presented to take my breakfast outside be it April or August, perched on Tesco delivery crates with my feet resting on abandoned bucket. Despite the often inhospitable temperatures, broken glass, sirens and shabby surroundings, backyards like this were a little haven of peace. The highest and lowest moments of my life were at university, and barbecues and afternoon teas sat in settings like this made the bad times better and the good times unique and unforgettable.
Being a student has taught me a lot, including the contents of my chemistry studies. Something I saw all around me in my final year, was the incredible ability of students to make the best out of very little and still have the time of their lives. An abandoned sofa sticking out of a hedge? Lug that home after lectures for 'plush garden summer seating'. Should you not be so lucky the aforementioned crates will suffice. After a 70 library week deprived from social contact and sunlight, all most of us wanted as a cold beer and a chat. Anywhere is better than the library at that point.
It's something I have come to admire and appreciate this year. So many are quick to criticise for any reason they can get their clammy, ignorant hands on. 'It wasn't this cushy in my day'. That is all very well, but it isn't your day any longer and your contribution to the economy and environment is something we all have to deal with. Accounting for inflation houses are now over twice as expensive relative to salaries. I am quick to criticise somethings that students do, some might spend to much to soon, some may drink to much or not call their parents. But on the whole, I know that I worked myself into the ground, to the point of serious emotional crisis on a colourful variety of occasions and I certainly wasn't the only one. What do we have now? A degree certainly, but the accompanying debt student stigma can feel crippling, not to mention the 'chronic grade inflation' across UK higher education institutions.
So looking at photographs like these, I not only see the places where I laughed and cried in equal measure, but also inhabitants who are resilient and creative. People who make so much from so little and who, in some cases, have given everything they can in the pursuit of a better education.