Welcome to Birmingham, Britain’s 2nd city. Actually a self-appointed title, presumably because it’s second only to London when it comes to concrete, piss-distressed shopping centres and unemployment. Whilst Brummies will (no chips on shoulders here, bab) remind you the city has more mileage of canal than Venice (the difference being that in the Midlands you can easily contract cholera or rabies just by sniffing the water) and that “Shoikspeeayuh wud of spowk loyke thiis!” it is in fact the arsehole of the country. But to deny yourself a visit to Weoley Castle, the city’s chavviest district would be criminal.
Climb aboard the 29. Witness the terrified driver, occasionally armed with pepper spray and a grimace. The top deck seats are all melted and trashed thanks to Chav kids. However, they do helpfully leave a daily record of their romantic encounters (“Zara finx Deano is bum 4 eva 04” is one recent, GENUINE addition). 20 minutes later, smell the chip fat and Lynx? You’re here.
Welcome to Weoley Castle, hub of Birmingham’s south west. And the council’s nightmare. The centre of activity is Castle Square. It’s actually circular, but that’s Brummies for you. A collection of badly grammatised shops (“Nip-In-2-Noreens” and “Maxs’ Pizza’s” with its apostrophe rash being two particular favourites), liberally scattered with the various Shazzers (that’s Chavette to you and me) and Kevs of the district. All have the pinched-faced look that suggests inter-bredding on a Tennessee-beating scale, combined with a regular methodone fix. The Lloyds TSB is surrounded by CCTV, and high density barb wire fencing. The amusements arcade next door means that Chavs don’t have far to take their “babby’s” savings to fritter away an afternoon after Loose Women. The council gave up re-glazing the bus stops a long time ago. The only building that causes confusion is the library. Red-brick and modern, its purpose clearly mystifies and actually evades most Chavs. Occasionally, they can be spotted muttering and pointing in its direction whilst wheeling little Courtney Dakota back home for some Tartrazine flavoured juice and unsupervised play. Consequently, the library remains unvisited, un-graffittied and untouched. Because no-one knows what the f*ck it is.
To deny yourself a trip past the local school would be remiss of you. That’s just down the road, pal, past the condemned housing. If you’re stuck for directions, ask any of the hundreds of 11-18 year old on the streets on any school day afternoon. They’ve all either been expelled or done a bunk.
I speak from [possibly made up] experience here. I [allegedly] used to teach at the Shenley Academy, back when it used to be called the Shenley Court School. Fears of an imminent Ofsted inspection and Failing School Status are second on the list after crowd control of the horrendous Chavs of the next generation. Spend a day here. Bet you a tenner you can’t tell me what the school’s uniform is by 3 o’clock. You might hazard a guess at thick gold hoops with curious white balls at the bottom as earrings for the girls. Hair slicked back with WD40 and gripped aggressively into place follows suit, as does so much badly applied foundation. The lads don’t really give a s**t. They just can’t wait to join big brothers Shane and Duane in the pub and DSS office.
To pass over the fact that all these young Chavs ALL sport the very latest mobile phone, Burberry trousers, or enormous bomber jacket would be neglecting my role as tour guide. And the names! I have taught (I use the word very loosely) at various stages the following : Shane, Duane, Wayne, Tracey, Precious, Shovaun (its authentic Chav spelling actually pre-dates its oft-mistaken Celtic roots), Sh’main (what is it with Chavs and apostrophes?!), Jodie-Lee, Terri-Ann, Kerri-Ann. I taught a boy called John once. Maybe I dreamt it.
First period, Monday morning is devoted to (and here, I’m only half-joking) writing out apology letters to the Managers of New Look, Primark, Phones4U, and Claire’s Accessories for their weekend shoplifting efforts. Chav parents (having an average age of about 24 and a reading age of half that) can’t be expected to help their litter to spell, or find some paper, so let the “posh’uns” at the school help ’em, eh? After that, it’s wagging it and “f**k all” timetabled for the rest of the week.
Anyway, the day’s nearly finished. Any questions? Apparently, Zara no longer thinks Deano is bum, just to keep you informed. No, the mums don’t work as cleaners or dinner ladies at the school – they’d have to miss Trisha and Fern & Phil for that. Plus it might constitute as work, and not soulless scrounging off the state. Anyway, have a safe journey home. You’ll thank Christ that wherever you’re from, it’s not Weoley Castle. Sorry, what was that? Why’s it called Weoley Castle? It’s Weoley Rough.