The author, Ben Trovato, used to live in a squat in Rotherhithe and paints a portrait of what the area was like back then. He then went on to make some interesting observations on what he found in Rotherhithe today.
We’ve already picked out a ground-floor flat. Sticking to the shadows, we reach the door and go to work on the lock. It takes three minutes for the hacksaw blade to snap. The crowbar is no help. Nor are the screwdrivers. This leaves the sledge hammer. I pick it up with both hands and am about to deliver a death blow when a police siren cuts through the fog. We grab the tools and make it to the stairwell just as a sleek, white Rover veers into the estate. Cops pile out of it and begin searching an area 50m from us. They leave. We exhale. Ten minutes later, the lock shatters and the artist uses his Doc Marten boot to open the door. We replace the lock and become the legal occupants. Vote Labour.It seems too good to be true. A clean three-bedroom flat with a view of the
Thamesfor which no rent will ever be paid or demanded. Sure, there is no electricity, gas or hot water, but we can’t exactly complain to the council. After weeks of living by candlelight, which doubles as our central heating, we meet a gentleman who shows us how to bypass the meter for the price of a bottle of rum.Rotherhithe is a rough area, no doubt about it. There are half a dozen heroin dealers living within a five minute walk of one another. Some squatters have their cars set alight at night. Punks, skinheads and anarchists share an uneasy existence alongside angry, rent-paying Cockneys. These legitimate tenants hate us for living in flats identical to theirs, but for free. I come home one night to find “Squatters Will Die” spray- painted across the door.