The rise of the chav in the public’s mind (very much like the rising of bile in your throat after a bad curry) makes me laugh. Chavs have been prominent in Hailsham and Eastbourne for as long as I can remember – hell, I was being beaten up in Hailsham Town Centre as long ago as 1997. But I digress.
Hailsham, for those not in the know, is an offshoot of Eastbourne in glorious Sussex by the Sea. Old Tories come to die in Hailsham and Eastbourne, alongside notable Satanist Aleister Crowley, who happened to curse the town as he died. Guess I know why the area resembles hell then. Incidentally Eastbourne has the highest population of Jedis in Britain according to the 2001 Census. I wish I’d known a Jedi- they could have used the Force and chucked some chavs into the sea or something.
I spent the latter half of the Nineties in a charming establishment called Hailsham Community College.
This was a fine training ground for chavs. There was Modern Languages which included French, German and Hailsham Chav Dialect (“Wassmatter din?” “Shuuit yooo smelly parrrrkee!”), Science which provided a wonderful array of scales and heating equipment that could be stolen and sold for cheap fags/ booze/ E’s and Child Development, useful when you become a mother at 15/16. If all that learning malarky tired you out, there was even a lovely toilet where you could go and have a relaxing fag/ write abusive graffiti on the walls. I got some written about me once. It said that I was a boffin, ie clever. I was quite pleased actually, it showed I was recognised.
The really clever chavs scaled the giddy heights of Health and Beauty at Eastbourne’s crappiest college, ECAT. The less clever ones didn’t but still got writen about anyway in the Eastbourne Herald. Why? I don’t know. I didn’t particularly think failing all your GCSEs because you spent your last two years smoking by a big tree was newsworthy but apparently it is.
If you were a non-chav? Well, the whole experience was less than fantastic. I went through five years of being labelled as a freak because I had the audacity not to wear a high enough ponytail/ Kappa trackie outfit, instead opting for Doc Martens and black nail varnish. “Punk!” they used to yell at me. Well, yeah. And?
Another thing, apart from the ludicrous clothing, that used to amuse me was their music taste. As a rock/indie kid (who was persecuted for said rock/indie appreciation) I thought “their music has to be waaay harder and scarier than mine because they’re so hard.” Imagine my amusement when I found out the hardest chav in school was a Backstreet Boys fan. Laugh? I almost did. In front of her too. Then I realised she’d follow me home or something. That’s what happened when you displeased the chav monarchy. They still do to this day. A pair of chavlings almost followed me home last summer. I would cry, but I’m now 21. So I laughed at them instead.
Also I once, rather hilariously, decided to tell one charming lady that I didn’t want to be a sheep like her. You don’t do that twice in a chav school, heh heh. Oh well. She only yelled abuse at me for about a month. And it was worth it just to see her face contort in stupefied confusion the moment the fated words left my lips.
When you are greeted every day of every week with abusive words down every corridor you develop ways of coping. I found my “weirdo” label served me well. Simply by looking a chav in the eye I could make them run a mile, a look of orange trowelled on horror etched on their stupid faces. It still works to this day too. If you’re still at school try it- you never know, it may just work.
Another crazy-ass thing I did at school was *shock horror* LEARN stuff! That’s what shook up the chavs mainly I think. They just kinda assumed that school was there to house them til Neighbours came on and provide a nice supply of cheap chips and educational equipment to barter for narcotics (see above). About 90% of my lessons were disrupted at least once an hour by a chav thinking it was part of the curriculum to yell abuse at the teacher and that it was a requirement to get chucked out of the lesson. All very well for them but not so good for those that wanted to learn and get out of the stagnant pool of complacency and dread otherwise known as Hailsham.
I remember thinking at the time that I was doing my time in purgatory before I could crawl out of the stagnant pool. I jolly well hope so, I wouldn’t pay anyone to live in Hailsham. As you can guess, I’ve now left the South and am joyfully residing in the Midlands. I was, ironically, one of the lucky ones. Most people from my year at Hellsham Community College are now, according to a friend in the know, parents of school-age children. I’m 21 going on 22 by the way so you do the math. I think the percentage of mothers is 90% or something. At least one girl in each of our classes is a junkie. Quite a few more have paid a visit to Eastbourne Magistrates Court and not because they’re court observers either. All however have hatchet faces and the general air of a complete munter.
One day in 2002 I visited one of Eastbourne’s “classy nitespots”, Atlantis. There, among the radioactive alcopops, “sexy dancing” cages and boom boom boom music I met a girl from my class, looking quite the worse for wear. I asked her how she was, having not seen her for two and a half years. She said “I’m OK. I had my kiddy nine weeks ago and he’s lovely.” Marvellous. So you’re doing the responsible new mother thing and going clubbing and drinking cheap vodka redbulls till you puke. God bless the next generation if that’s what their mother teaches them- someone’s got to.
Welcome to Hailsham. Shut the door on your way out…oh, you’ve gone already. I don’t blame you to be honest – wait for me I’m leaving too.