Haywards Hoth dates back to 1544 meaning a “heath by the enclosure with a hedge”. An unsearchable and unheard of ‘legend’ suggests that the town is named after a local highway man, Jack Hayward, who committed his crimes in the vicinity at some undefined period in the past. I suspect this is a colossal in-joke for all ‘hedge fund’ backers of the development of Haywards Heath town. The place is a characterless, noisy, nightmare. It is a swindle-hole full of rot. Not a scrap of Heath land in sight. In 1859 the Sussex County Lunatic Asylum was opened here, which later became St Francis Hospital and is now the Princess Royal Hospital. Haywards Heath currently considers itself “The Heart of Mid Sussex”. Someone had better call 999 and get the stents ready, quadruple bypass ahoy. Mid Sussex is in BIG trouble.
Many ferociously ‘religious’ residents, lots of different churches (The Baptist’s demolished their beautiful old church just before Christmas, celebrating Jesus’ birthday with a JCB tearing at stunning architecture… to build a new church, a MODERN one! a BETTER one!!! because they can afford to. Walk done South Road with your eyes open and you will witness the ‘Heath Entitlement Scowl’, sour faces finding a problem for every solution. Many, many commuters. Stressed out kids in private school uniforms. Play, I spy with my little eye something beginning with Smile. It can be a long game.
SNOB: Actually took time off work to go to the opening of the new Waitrose*, in such a bloody dull place it could be classed as an event. Attitude is ‘after me’. Drives monster 4 x 4, badly, but vehicle is big enough to bully everyone on the roads. Brash, rude and mean. Belligerence is bliss.
*True Story. I was quietly browsing Waitrose shelves one day, the aisle was fairly empty, when a smiling woman in her mid 40’s pushed her trolley at me, so I side stepped. Woman grinned wider and pushed again, I side stepped again, by now the product I was looking for was no longer in my line of vision. Woman beamed at me once more and barged further forward, smiling and trilling ‘Sorreeee’, I side stepped again to avoid being struck, and in a very English way, I huffed. What I wanted to do was grab the end of her trolley, stare into her face and announce ‘Look Lady, The polite thing to do is say excuse me, and then proceed’.
CHAV: Confrontational individuals, much street spitting and ill-fitting clothing. Haunts are KFC, Greggs, Poundland and Iceland/Iceland car park. Mostly keep to themselves, unless on bikes.
SNAV: Migrants from Saaf Landan or Brytan, now living the ‘Country’ dream in Mid Sussex. Identified by the regular, loud, statements about how nice it is to be in the Countryside and how rough it was back in X place. The unsaid comment is about being a better class of person for having escaped. These people are obsessed with their own children and use them as the reason to go on living here.
LIFER: I’ve always lived here. My parents live here. My siblings and all other relatives live here. I have no plans to leave, ever.
THE OLD UNWISE: A moody grey cloud haunts this town. They are retired. They are very, very bored. They despise simplicity and venomously obstruct all paths to progress. They watch television at full blast all day, except at rush hours, lunch hours, school run or weekends. Then they venture out in small cars and crash them, some of them have dementia – like the lady who crashed into the funeral parlour then went full speed into reverse and smashed a hole in the fence surrounding the boarded-up Baptist church building site. They shout. They push in. They hold things up. They ask questions then proceed to tell the answer they want to hear. They have plenty of time, so assume that everyone else is at their disposal. They are a menace. They constantly tell younger people ‘Don’t get old’, basically the most passive aggressive way of saying ‘F**k off and die’. They lollop aimlessly about in packs, and shuffle in unexpected directions. Beware, they are dangerous to ones physical, emotional and mental health.
THE BEWILDERED: Salvation! There are a few, wandering about looking confused, blinking, rubbing eyes and on occasion staring open mouthed. The frown is one of questioning rather than a greeting. What the hell is going on here? Did she really just say that? Is that guy actually going to park there? When did it become OK for old people to sit down on a sofa and expect to be waited on hand and foot in M&S food hall?…by several staff and a tired looking taxi driver?????????
- Building works. COMING SOON Luxury, Stylish, Stunning collection of new 2, 3, 4 AND 5 bedroom homes. COMING SOON road closures, temporary traffic lights and endless construction noise. COMING SOON two beautiful purpose built retirement villages. COMING SOON another stunning collection of deluxe office spaces.
- Ongoing variable noise. If you like noise, queuing and traffic, move here immediately. You’re going to love it. Walking home from work last week, the traffic was so loud; I put in my headphones and cranked the volume up to max, and couldn’t hear a bloody word of the Audiobook I wanted to listen to, this was the case for the entire 20 minute walk.
- Very little in the way of employment, most people have to work in London, Brighton, Gatwick or Crawley. The train station is a sight to behold at 7.30am. People genuinely appear relieved to be going to work, via a delayed train, on a wet Monday morning.
- Selection of chain places to eat/and or drink, including Prezzo on ‘The Broadway’ (OH the glamour!). The indie cafe in the park is called Tories. I think this is because it is situated in Victoria Park.
- Health. Always people running. All times of day. All weathers. In special running clothes i.e. shorts/lycra/headband/water bottle with hold hole/matching stuff/expensive trainers/arm iPod thingy/running watch. Basically any leisure activity must become competitive in some way. Nobody looks like they are enjoying themselves. It’s not sport, it’s training.
There was an ‘art installation’ a few years ago, it consisted of a replica model steam train parked in the middle of a roundabout, it made ‘choo choo chuffing’ sounds at intervals, a whistle would blow sometimes, this was a recording played on a loop inside the engine cab, the whole ‘installation’ was badly fenced off. Tribute acts and cover bands play fairly frequently at local venues. One film a month shown at a local Hall. The most difficult part is finding the motivation to go and do anything. Even a weekly shop becomes a stressful ordeal. There are more options if you happen to be over 60.