AEOB House People

“‘Ouses, ‘ouses, ‘ouses” , that’s what old Jimmy Copper said in 1951 when his voice was recorded by the BBC as he was looking out over the South Downs at the landscape he used to walk as a shepherd boy. “There was ‘ouses, ‘ouses, ‘ouses on the land we used to plough.”

And it seems that no matter how many houses we build, how much Greenbelt we build upon, there are never enough houses to go round. Plenty of luxury flats and large detached houses and new office buildings but there is now a ‘clipped wing’ generation living with parents up until their mid-thirties, who feel they will never own their own home. And what of those who can’t or don’t want to live at home who are forced to group together in twos and threes and fours and fives and pay sky high rents to private landlords just to have a room in a shared house to call their own.

There’s a project in Bristol I’m involved with tackling this issue from a grassroots level.

Abolish Empty Office Buildings House People.

AEOB House People for short, let me tell you what we are doing:

Firstly this is an ethical investment, three hundred thousand pounds has been raised through a share issue with a guaranteed return of between 1 and 3 percent over the first 3 years of occupation.

That three hundred thousand pounds has been used to buy a run down commercial unit in the corner of a 1970’s housing estate in the St George area of Bristol. One small part of the two point two million square feet of unused office space in Bristol alone.

Now the three hundred thousand pounds has been converted into property it has been ethically mortgaged releasing four hundred thousand pounds to pay for the the conversion and extension of the unit into living spaces for ten people – studio apartments, one bedroom flats, two bedroomed flats, a shared common room, laundry room, bike store and workshops. Social, community housing built to the highest standards of energy efficiency using ecological and sustainable building materials and methods.

Now for the clever part – the residents will form a co-operative which be responsible for paying a fair rent on the whole property to the project to cover the mortgage repayments whilst being solely responsible for setting rents, managing maintenance and recruiting new residents when required. A self-managed community in control of its own destiny with no threat of short notice eviction or unexpected rent increases just because ‘the market’ says more can be squeezed out of hard pressed tenants.

And you can be part of this change in any way you feel you are able, from investing, volunteering at the site, becoming a resident or by using the tools AEOB House People have created during this process to start your own project changing the face of housing one empty office building at a time.

More information about AEOB House People can be found at and

This article and more information on the author can be found at

Photo courtesy AEOB People Facebook page.

The Loneliness Project | Creative Projects | Theatre Cloud

The Loneliness Project is being run by Theatre Cloud in association with the touring stage production of John Steinbeck’s ‘Of Mice and Men’. In their own words:

Today, we still see many examples of people being isolated and discriminated against because of their circumstances and who they are. During the current financial crisis, we’ve seen attacks on the poorest in receipt of benefit allowance, as well as 744,000 people on zero-hour contracts. Meanwhile, in the current refugee crisis, people have been disparagingly described as cockroaches and swarms.

Society has changed in big ways since Steinbeck wrote Of Mice and Men. We now live in an information age, where many connections are made or continued digitally online through ‘social media’. We have hundreds, even thousands, of online friends or followers. We use dating apps such as Tinder and Grindr, scanning and swiping for someone or something. There isn’t even a need to speak to anybody when we buy our groeceries anymore (unless there’s an unexpected item in your bagging area, which of course, there isn’t!).

Take the opportunity to get involved by submitting a poem or duologue or just by heading over to the website and showing your support.

This Blue Journal

I stare silently at the pile of books beside me
Green Mindfulness, red pocket book, blue iPad,
Orange poems book
And this blue journal.

Sullenly I despise them all and what they represent.
Reading and writing.
The pressure to conform or to do.
The commitment to spend the required time reading and writing.

I breathe deeply and regularly
I observe everything about this room
The way the side curtain waves in the breeze
The two buttons on the back of my jacket
The kettle and empty crisp packet holding dead tea bags.

Outside, the grass and the sunlight
The sound of the wind through the trees
The two horses that died yesterday
Weigh heavy on my mind.

I begin to relax into this day
And I am pretending it is not happening
Little blue book knows nothing of the anguish and anger in my head
My thoughts, wondering how it can mean anything
And I know it doesn’t
Yet the shoulds and woulds and could have beens
Fill my head
And I guess I am being unreasonable
Or at least feeling unreasonable
Or ungrateful
For I am still here and have the power to still be

One more tea, then it’s time to go
One more tea.

– See more at:

Source: The Loneliness Project | Creative Projects | Theatre Cloud

Michael Simms: A Note from the Editor on the Vagaries of Publishing Poetry on the Internet

Once again, a poet has emailed me, peeved that a poem of hers that appeared in Vox Populi is not anything like the version she sent me. The line-endings and stanza-breaks are scrambled. Her careful crafting of white-space has disappeared. Her neologisms have been auto-corrected to gibberish. The indentations are…  Well, I’m embarrassed. She’s embarrassed. […]