The Aylesbury Wall

1

The first, I suppose, was the Great Wall of China,
Thirteen thousand miles along its northern border,
Built to keep out the Mongolian hordes –
But now we have the Aylesbury Wall.

And the Emperor Hadrian’s famous wall,
Seventy-three miles long and twenty feet tall,
Built to keep out the Barbarian hordes –
But now we have the Aylesbury Wall.

And the wall around the Venetian Ghetto,
Encircling the island of Cannaregio,
Built to keep in the Jewish hordes –
But now we have the Aylesbury Wall.

And the most famous wall there’s ever been,
Wrapped twice round the border of West Berlin,
Built to keep in the Communist hordes –
But now we have the Aylesbury Wall.

And the walls of hate they call walls of peace
Along Northern Ireland’s divided streets,
Built to keep out the Nationalist hordes –
But now we have the Aylesbury Wall.

And the United States-Mexico border wall,
The most crossed land border of them all,
Built to keep out the South-American hordes –
But now we have the Aylesbury Wall.

And the wall between Israel and Palestine,
Around the West Bank but within the Green Line,
Built to keep out the Arab hordes –
But now we have the Aylesbury Wall.

2

Erected on Southwark Council’s order
Encircling the estate’s south-west corner,
Built to keep out the homeless hordes –
That’s why we have the Aylesbury Wall.

Built for one hundred and forty thousand
Around the first stage of the demolition,
Enclosing the two-month long occupation
Within the gates of the Aylesbury Wall.

Manned by security twenty-four/seven
With guard dogs and cameras and razor wire,
At four thousand pounds a day to hire –
That’s the cost of the Aylesbury Wall.

Evicted, at sixty thousand pounds per tenant,
From homes needing ten grand refurbishment,
Seven thousand, five hundred residents
Count the cost of the Aylesbury Wall.

Trapped within a ring of private contractors,
Twenty households, living like prisoners,
Cut off from their friends, family and carers
Pay the price for the Aylesbury Wall.

Across whose painted pink boards was written
Every night, while the guards were sleeping,
These words which, by the following evening
Were erased from the Aylesbury Wall –

3

Fuck gentrification, we want to live!
Public housing not private profit!
Down with all fences! Squat the lot!
Is what it said on the Aylesbury Wall.

Everyone needs a home to live in!
Why should we be forced to leave ours?
Homes for people, not for money!
Is what it said on the Aylesbury Wall.

What it said on the Aylesbury Wall is
My granddad fought in the Second World War.
These homes, the NHS, were his reward
For the sacrifice to build a better world.

What it said on the Aylesbury Wall is
Good luck to the occupants and tenants!
These empty council flats could one day be
Homes for your children and their families.

The council are trying to starve us out
And bully the remaining residents.
It’s not too late, fight for the estate!
Is what it said on the Aylesbury Wall.

Aylesbury endures security guard
Violence and intimidation.
No evictions! No demolitions!
Is what it said on the Aylesbury Wall.

What it said on the Aylesbury Wall is
Undefeated, the occupation continues.
Repopulate the Aylesbury estate!
Is what it said on the Aylesbury Wall.

4

And there were more words than I can recall,
Words shouted and written across the wall.
But the loudest words that I heard spoken
Were the words that turned into direct action.

And there are more walls than I can mention,
Walls of many builds in many locations.
But the largest wall of any kind
Is the wall we’ve built inside our minds.

And the sound of freedom is still the sound
Of a wall that’s been built being pulled down.
But we’ve been living so long behind them
It’s a sound that we’ve nearly forgotten.

But on the 2nd of April demonstration
Against Lambeth County Court’s eviction
Of the Aylesbury Estate occupation
London’s hordes pulled down the Aylesbury Wall.

And there are two sides to every wall,
And one is as high as the other is tall.
But the wall shuts out the humanity
Of those it locks in and those with the key.

And the sound of freedom is still the sound
Of a wall that’s been built being knocked down.
And on the day after April Fools’
We pulled the Aylesbury Wall to the ground.

– Simon Elmer

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