‘Down in the jungle living in a tent, Better than a pre-fab – NO RENT!’
So went the ditty when I was a kid growing up in the late 40s, early 50s. Bombs had wreaked havoc on the property market in the UK and ‘prefabs’ abounded – designed as a temporary solution to the housing crisis, they were still around in a few places when I last visited my childhood haunts a couple of years ago. You may well ask why and the answer is simple – people loved them – and still do!
I only ever experienced them as a visitor, so I have no first-hand anecdotes to pass on. My earliest recollection of home was a converted blockhouse with a flat, concrete roof three feet thick! Windows had been knocked through but the door was still a huge steel affair that clanged like something from a ‘Hammer House of Horror’ movie. Because my parents were near the top of the re-housing list we soon moved into one of the first ‘council houses’ to be built. These days such places are called ‘social housing’ and have a decided stigma attached. Back then they were modern, clean, available for a modest rent, and people were grateful for a decent roof over their heads.
‘Prefabs’ were council owned as well, until Maggie Thatcher sold off social housing in a very successful ploy to convince the working class that they were now ‘home-owners’ and should therefore vote Tory! This is the only reason these little gems survived – those who loved them, now owned them and could not easily be pushed aside for some flash, new shopping mall. Twenty one in original condition on the Excaliber Estate, Catford,South London have been granted Grade 2 Listed Building status. If ‘prefabs’ were people they’d have a huge following on Twitter and Facebook.
Anyway, enough of all that. Time to get to the point.
These days, our local town of Ortaca is a thrusting, bustling and decidedly prosperous looking place; posh, modern apartments and villas abound. So, the story of Mehmet Orhan and his ‘prefab’ needs to be told before ‘the council’ moves in and ‘condemns’ him.
As global warming kicks in and average temperatures rise, the prosperous citizens of Ortaca have set about adding their carbon footprint to the whole by purchasing the odd klima (air conditioning) or three. Out in Karaburun Mahallesi Mehmet Bey has ever been one to move with the times. He already has satellite tv and a fine güneş enerji sistem (solar energy hot water), so adding to his creature comforts with a klima was not given a second thought; ‘Every house should have a klima’ he said.
His latest life-style choice has certainly raised his profile in the community with locals and tourists stopping by to photograph the installation. Mehmet Bey obviously loves his home which offers many fiscal advantages over more conventional accommodation. And that brings this story very nicely full circle . .
‘Down in the jungle living in a tent, Better than a pre-fab, NO RENT!
I thought this was a hoot when I first posted it 8.2.2012 – I still do!
Alan in Okçular
ps This was the situation on the Scrapsgate Road, between Halfway and Minster on the Isle of Sheppey just half a mile from where I lived after the East Coast Floods of 1953.