While I was at university, I believed I had escaped the horrible cluster of small East Midlands towns of my childhood forever. Not so. Sitting down to watch a documentary about neo-fascism in England, where should I find was the centre of this particularly unpleasant aspect of Chav existence, but Langley Mill? Langley Mill is in Derbyshire, very close to Eastwood, where I grew up, and is also highly chavvy. (See separate entry). It is also a missed opportunity. Economically, Langley Mill was dependent on the Railways, and when they went away, Langley Mill went into a terrible decline. Langley Mill became the originator of horrific chavdom which spread to the neighbouring mining towns when that industry also went the way of all flesh. Langley Mill has spread its race like a cancer throughout Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. It is in the heart of Bandit Country. The sad thing is that it didn’t have to be this way. Langley Mill still has a station that can deliver one quickly to Nottingham and Sheffield, and directly to London in two hours. Economically it ought to have recovered. The canal has been made attractive by volunteers, and there are still large, potentially beautiful Victorian railway inns which could have made the place a lovely gateway to the Peak District. Instead, Langley Mill is a seething hell-hole of deprivation and drug abuse, the Railway Inn, the Mill and the Great Northern are for the Shazzers and Darrens to belt out Karaoke, when they are not being used by the local White Power groups to arrange lynch mobs for local Asian small business owners attempting to make a living. No-one with a vocabulary over 6,000 words or hair not coated in whale fat would consider entry. As for the canal? I think you all know what happened to that, don’t you? If I say pre-teen pregnancy and discarded needles, I am sure you can work out what the average rambler encounters their attempt to discover Britain’s industrial heritage.
I arranged my school sixth-form’s Hallowe’en party at the Mill, foolishly enough, as I knew it was the only pub that would allow those of us still under 18 to buy drink with impunity, as to my knowledge, English Law has not been enforced in Langley Mill since the Nineteenth Century. One has the sensation of being a pioneer in one of the goldrush towns of the Old West that are so glamourised in the nearby American Adventure theme park. This is possibly because, like the chavs, American Pioneers were illiterate, drunk, violent, and hell-bent on destroying the native civilisation they encounter wheresoever they go.
Having stepped off the train from London the other evening, I was beginning my walk home wondering how many of my possessions I would retain, when I discovered the latest, brightest, shiniest addition to Langley Mill, not having been there in some years. Where a factory used to be, and before that railway tracks, there was instead a large, brighly lit KFC, inviting passing trade from the nearby M1 to ‘stop for a family treat’. Former cabinet minister Kenneth Clarke was born in Langley Mill. I would love it if he came back there to see what has been allowed to happen to culture and society in Britain over the last six decades, perhaps to eat his first ever meal served in units of ‘pieces’ and ‘buckets’. Yum. Munch away, chavs, go on, guzzle it down, because we both know that there is absolutely nothing better to hope for. I hope it f*****g kills you.