Cheek by Jowl: A History of Neighbours by Emily Cockayne

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Cheeky by Jowl is not a book on the history of the Australian soap opera but on the British history of the people we live next door to. This fascinating book investigates what it has meant to be a neighbour in the UK, from as early as the 1200’s to modern day. It is commonly thought that friendliness, team work and community spirit has hugely decreased, especially over the last 100 years. This book exposes a few of the reasons why. One of the main reasons is exposed as increased wealth. When you constantly needed to swap and borrow things off each other, who could afford not to know them? Another one being the improved welfare system. Now there are trained professionals taking care of childbirth and the sick, neighbours assistance just isn’t required as much as it used to be. Neighbours from hell are also discussed, from Victorian street squabbles to recent murders over parking spaces. It also includes a look into class, privacy, race, building structures and of course, ‘keeping up with the Jones’s’.
This book really is quite a fascinating read, especially towards the second half as the author’s humour and personality seems to come out (see the section on In the Midnight Garden after local swingers’ parties). True life cases and photographs all go to illustrate points and assist in understanding early housing situations that are virtually unimaginable in our current lives. If you have any interest in the social history of the UK, you will thoroughly enjoy this education, through provoking and fun book.



Buy Cheek by Jowl by Emily Cockayne from Waterstones here.




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