Living in Farnborough is like living in purgatory; it’s neither here nor there. ‘The bargain bin of Hampshire’, I’ve overheard. The drab town adequately situates itself between having just enough shops to not kill oneself from boredom and too little homeware stores to purchase items to make killing oneself an actual reality.
You’d think a town situated in Hampshire, voted the happiest county to live in the UK and jostling right up against posh Surrey, would offer something appealing or stimulating, a certain je ne sais quoi, if you will. You’d be mistaken. Living in Farnborough is like living in Jones’ town. In comparison, however, the members of the cult actually had an easier ride -at least they all died.
Farnborough to culture is like what Ian Huntley is to child safeguarding policy; painfully non-existent. Its drab cultural existence is only bettered by the Wetherspoons it homes.
Walking through Farnborough I often feel like Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, with the town acting at the surgical knife used in my lobotomy. Strangely, though, Farnborough is home to a disproportionate amount of funeral directors which I can only equate to people living here wanting to die.
I moved to Farnborough for work. Whilst the job is exciting, fulfilling and gives myself a sense of pride, the same cannot be said of the town. There were a series of glaring warning signs, however, which I naively refused to recognise.
I first visited Farnborough for my interview. It’s a four hour drive from where I used to live so I decided to cop an AirBnB the night before. As I was sat waiting to go into my interview a will-be colleague thanked me for staying the night before, stating it showed great dedication. “Don’t worry”, I said. “It’s given me a chance to see the fine surroundings of Farnborough”. A painful and apologetic wince enshrouded her face. “Mmm, I know, it’s not very nice here”.
That was number one.
A week later I decided to try and find somewhere to live. I was not 15 seconds out of the car before a shady gentleman offered me bacci and fags at a discounted rate from his dealer bag. Not really something you want to hear stepping onto your first pavement in Farnborough.
After moving in, I spent my first Saturday trolling the two ‘shopping centres’. A woman attempts to walk into a Wilko only to be denied by the automatic doors, signalling the close of play for the household goods store. “Oh my god, why is Farnborough so s**t!?”, she shouts as she throws her arms down in dismay.
Number three. Alarm bells started ringing.
The ‘Princes’ Mead’ shopping centre is a joke in itself. The centre isn’t even fit for peasants, let alone royalty. I’ve never walked into newly built shopping centre that housed absolutely no shops. It’s completely dumbfounding to find the mall only contains a Sticky Sisters (what the f**k even is this?), a vape stall and some place to get your eyebrows threaded.
The town is famously inhabited by the Gurkha community, after settling from nearby army bases. Now I’ve never been to Nepal but I imagine they all collectively regret their decision moving.
Its reflectively illuminating to find the second best rated thing to do in Farnborough on tripadvisor is Basingstoke canal. It’s a good day out though, just remember to fill your pockets with a boatload of rocks before jumping in.
Now I’m not one to bash the lower echelons of society, but wandering through Farnborough high street you begin to ponder how the town’s inhabitants escaped their petri dishes.
The only good thing I have ever heard about Farnborough is its proximity to London. From colleagues to friends to letting agents, all I’ve heard about Farnborough’s unique selling point is that ‘it’s close to London’.
Despite its morbid life, Farnborough is not without its excitement. It has its own airfield and hosts its own airshow every two years bringing together the aviation industry and reportedly conducting deals in the billions. This airfield is about as good as it gets, however. In January, a jet from from Colombia landed at the airport, with the passengers being picked up in a Bentley. A reported £50 million worth of cocaine was seized from the jet. Now I live directly under the flight path of the airport. If only a package of charlie fell from the plane into my garden. This probably would’ve been the only thing making living in the town a little more exciting.
Now if you’re thinking about moving to Farnborough for work, I urge you to really think about it. Is there not something else you could do? Anything else at all. Any other job. Just literally anything else. Please.
In spirit of the John Betjeman; ‘Come friendly bombs and fall on Farnborough, it isn’t fit for humans now’.