Seven miles and many, many collective IQ points South of Oxford, this shabby former wool and beer town is now solely renowned for an annual ritual a bit like zoological feeding time only with less social graces and hygiene (to cut a short, pointless story shorter, councillors go up into a tower and chuck buns at the salivating dysfunctionals assembled in the square below – the latter scramble, claw, bite and eff for the kudos of catching and scoffing a scuffed and battered, bacteria-laden, pawed and poxy lard-ball). Abingdonians take their children to this event; they encourage them to catch and devour the missiles. They’ll fockin’ well ‘ave any stranger who gets between little Jordan and ‘er ‘ard-urned cake, in fact.
This is the gene pool we’re talking about when we say “Abingdon”!
Apart from the fête worse than death (sorry) of the yearly bun-chuck, the town is “known” for its club for MG-Autists (workers who would clearly never master driving them used to assemble the cars here – obviously from very large print, monosyllable instructions and parts that could be handled with webbed fingers; we think the “Midget” was definitely a local conception in that respect). Abingdonian areas that aren’t council estates or old-world ghettoes soiled with kebab-vans, placenta and vomit consist of seven-figure townhouses with no garages and shedloads of iffy B&B “catering” for Oxford-tourists and visiting mole-like weirdos engaged in particle physics deep in the tunnels down the road at Culham. Oh, and, er, a Ciro Citterio factory outlet.
And that’s it: apart from you-know-who. You have to picture the east-west axis of evil, or lobotomised ley line, on which this place squats to understand the Chav kinetics. You start with a barracks (“Dalton” – the first syllable rhyming with “dull” or “dolt”), across the A34, which runs north-south across the west (or, duuh, left) side of Abingdon. Come over the roundabout and into the western outskirts of this crap-hole and the first thing to confront you is an estate of garden/electrical/carpet/bathroom stores and call centres to the north and a huge, Chav-Mecca Tesco’s to the south. (They were going to have a multiplex cinema around 5 years ago; but Fats Prescott vetoed it on the laughable grounds of it being detrimental to the “greenery” – that would be any stubble visible through the layers of garbage, presumably. Probably just as well, though, given the scarcity of cinephiles in the vicinity; any picture-house would only profit from showing back-to-back Vin Diesel and majoring on the greasiest possible snacks for the lowest achievable price point.)
Anyway, since Abingdon is a very definite no-go zone for any ethnicity other than the pale polarities of Twit with Spaniel and Twat with Staffy, the idiotic squaddies quickly get bored at the absence of foreigners to pour water on or strap to fork-lifts. Out they come onto civvy-street, then, roaring out of the barracks in their uniforms and Seats, “music” blaring and with the undercarriage neon causing their mongoloid transport to appear to hover above the pot-holes. They fly across the A34 roundabout like something out of Close Encounters (only of clearly less advanced intelligence) and fetch up at the place where the estuary-yokel-rap delivery “Yew won’t fraw-eyes wiv ‘at?” was first sounded. Yes: beyond the abandoned hospital, what’s that next landmark, just this side of the mini-roundabout from the ridiculously slanted, sinking ghost-ship of a new police HQ? Could it possibly be… yes, it is: the slowest fast-food experience this side of the Twilight Zone, Abingdon’s “Drive-Froo” McD’s. Here the army intermingles with the local gene pool for entertainment, sustenance, reproduction and super-mini audio-visual-system comparison. Or together they might explore concepts such as Nihilism (“Naffink to, lake, doo, na mien?”).
Suitably nourished, the posse thus convened then continues its eastward progress towards the town centre, jettisoning crap onto kerbs and into front gardens along the way. Traffic habits in the town as a (w)hole reflect the local mentality perfectly: cyclists stop at pedestrian crossings in order to move from one pavement to the other. Nobody ever – ever – lets anybody else out at awkward junctions (of which there are plenty, the road layout’s logic in perfect proportion to the council’s idiocy); thugs and pensioners alike career hilariously over mini-roundabouts, horns blazing, baseball caps nodding as their owners bark their vaginal insults, Zimmers flourished in threat… If you don’t drive a 4×4 Knobmobile, it’s got to be either Corsa-style or P***y Sierra with the antistatic tags still dangling down the back. Road signs in the town have been systematically replaced by nice clear pictures, themselves periodically obscured by the tatty yellow Big Boot signs that get flyposted in the early Sunday hours throughout the Summer months by a pot-bellied gonk in a van with the stereo at Full Beyoncé. Let’s put it this way: if you’re looking for the Scenic Route through Oxfordshire, give Abingdon the bypass.
Of course, when we said “former wool and beer town” we were talking about the past farming and manufacture of the items in question. Abingdon’s still a beer and wool town; but now it’s state-subsidised swilling of the former, and the devouring (between pittas) and/or shagging (between sheets) of the latter. Talking of sheep, Abingdon pub gardens alternate between open-air brothels in Winter, and Chav-Kindergartens in Summer (“Wayne! Get here! Take this Vimto to Kylie and get her off the Aunt Sally target!”).
But for all-year-round “sam-ink to do, innit” you have to get to the other end of that east-west Line of Thickest Resistance by which we entered the place at the start. Over on the east side of town, you’ll find Destination Chav: “Sticky’s”! This is the way non-regulars refer to Stratton’s (the same way that Transylvanian villagers might speak indirectly of the “castle to avoid” up in their hills, thus avoiding the D-word). Stratton’s is where you go in Abingdon if you need to park your Chavmobile in order to urinate, fornicate, defecate or “dance” – all four often performed simultaneously in this dimmest of dives with, strangely, the tinniest, most distorted of PA systems (or perhaps it’s not so strange, given the vehicular systems they have to compete with, before and after). The place was rechristened, as we said, for the Stickiness of its floors by the non-regulars, the few Abingdonian Non-Chavs who wouldn’t be seen dead in there; or rather, they probably would have their deaths witnessed if they ventured in.
Not a town for minorities, then. As we leave the place, perhaps we should reflect how the true modern-day “Abingdon Minority” conforms to a despised stereotype of today. If you dare to drive through slowly – and even open your eyes – you just may spot that there is, living quietly amongst the dominant primates, a small, persecuted group of Abingdonians distinguished from the herd by the following “strange” and well-despised habits: marrying; driving whilst licensed; using the litter-bins provided; listening to music at home; covering the midriff (female) / forearms (male) in the cold outdoors; paying the council tax; parking in designated areas (as opposed to the double yellows the Chavs tend to wait on whilst they pop in for their chips/to sign on/to chose an eternity ring from H Samuel); refraining from child-bearing until attaining a double-figure age-group; having a waist; going an hour without texting; not using “text” as a verb; programming without VideoPlus; engaging in conversation that extends beyond reality television, gangsters and rape; and encouraging your own and (gasp) others’ children to communicate, not just with words rather than gestures or blows (or by pointing at the Argos catalogue), but also at a decibel level that occasionally dips below that of a chimp with a megaphone. Such behaviour, and many examples like it, will have you labelled a “paediatrician bastard” and surrounded by a lynch-mob within five seconds – so Welcome to Abingdon and “Yew take care now!”