Cheek by Jowl: A History of Neighbours by Emily Cockayne
Cheek by Jowl: A History of Neighbours by Emily Cockayne is not a book on the history of the much-loved Australian soap opera. However, it is focused on the British history of the people we live next door to. Cheek by Jowl is a fascinating book that investigates what it has meant to be a neighbour in the UK, from as early as the 1200s to the modern day.
It’s commonly thought that friendliness, teamwork 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 exposure to increased wealth. When you’re in a financial situation where you constantly need to swap and borrow things, knowing your neighbours was necessary for survival. Another reason is the improved welfare system. Now there are trained professionals taking care of childbirth and the sick. Neighbours don’t need to rely on each other as much as they used to.
Neighbours from hell are also discussed, from Victorian street squabbles to murders over parking spaces. It also includes a look into class, privacy, race, building structures and ‘keeping up with the Joneses’.
Cheek by Jowl: A History of Neighbours by Emily Cockayne review
Cheek by Jowl by Emily Cockayne really is a fascinating read, especially when the author’s humour and personality come through. (Check out the section ‘In the Midnight Garden’ on local swingers’ parties.) Real-life cases and photographs all go to illustrate points and assist in understanding early housing situations that are virtually unimaginable today. If you have any interest in the social history of the UK, you will thoroughly enjoy this educational and thought-provoking book.
If you like Cheek by Jowl by Emily Cockayne you’ll love Fragile Lives by Professor Stephen Westaby.