Life

Radio review: A voyage of discovery with tower block tales

Nuala McCann

High Rise Radio 4

Door Stepping Radio 4

Nightmare or paradise... take your pick. This dreamy story of tower blocks flitted between the visions of Le Corbusier and the horrors of a dank concrete stairwell.

There was that certain wall: “See that? They used that in Trainspotting II,” said Nicole, matter of fact.

A neighbour from upstairs threw used nappies and cigarette ends off the balcony.

There were plenty of stories like that from high rises across Britain.

“Some filthy animal is pissing out of the window from the fourth floor,” said someone.

A man said a young girl was among a group of drug users and she overdosed in the hallway.

“Rather than calling the police or ambulance, they put her down the rubbish chute,” he sighed. “That shocked all of us.”

But there were poetic stories too. Take Rita whose father, a scaffolder, helped built Arlington House.

“It was like diamonds and it used to sparkle,” she said.

Take the group who want to save the Seven Sisters in Rochdale. Take the view from a high window, down below onto the seagulls swooping and diving and playing.

Take the story of a bed for the night.

“My neighbour had left out a flat packed kiddie bed and there was this homeless guy and he was tucked up asleep in the little Spiderman bed.”

There were clangs and clatters of lift doors and the wet slap of feet on concrete steps – and it was trademark poetic – as it usually is from Falling Tree Productions.

Meanwhile, Jude Rogers is moving house – and it is deeply emotional. She's going from London to Wales. Her neighbours will no longer be nightshift workers but sheep.

And it got her thinking about all the places where she had ever lived so she set off on a door stepping mission to her old homes and her old lives.

This, too, was a poetic voyage of discovery.

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