Guildford, oh Guildford. What has become of you? Once lauded as the glorious beating heart of “leafy Surrey”; a jewel in the crown of the Home Counties, Guildford is now a relatively unpleasant place to live.
To start, we have one of the worst local councils in recorded British history. A veritable financial black hole. Constantly complaining about lack of funding for services and amenities, yet still finds money behind the sofa for a considerable annual pay rise for themselves each year (not that they need it. The chief exec of the council “earns” almost half a million pounds per year), along with various doomed, wasteful vanity projects (Guildford Pop Up Village, a failed bike hire scheme (most of them are locked up at the station now), business rates that only ridiculous luxury shops are able to pay… But cannot afford to do so for long as the average resident can’t afford to shop in these places).
Secondly, the populace of Guildford… Most people couldn’t give a damn about the town. The vast majority of residents just use the town as a handy base to conduct their daily business in London. The vast majority of Guildfordians you will meet each day will be the bankers, lawyers, business types. Very middle class, and very overt about it. They’re the only ones who can afford to pay £700,000 for a modest house in the glorious GU1 or GU2 postcodes. All the regular folk have to either leave, or make do in the nether regions.
Curiously, in Central Guildford, you’ll never see married couples of the same age. The men are usually much older than their overly made up, yoga practitioner wives, who frequent the hallowed aisles of Waitrose to converse with other like minded souls about the developmental progression of their little Hugh and Amelia.
At night, youths from all around gather to go to one of the three or four crap nightspots on Bridge Street. Look out of any window at 3am and you’ll see a march-of-the-penguins-esque parade of drunks and students drudging back to their beds… Clamorous squawking and shrieking included.
Guildford does have some positives, however. There is a reasonably large Marks and Spencer in the town centre, and the rail links are excellent when you eventually, absolutely must get out of there. Although in recent times, a new railway franchise owner has been putting even that meager positive at risk.