To those who don’t know, Ham is a mid sized town placed in between Richmond upon Thames and Kingston upon Thames, Surrey. It is part of quite an affluent area where it was once written that the borough of Richmond upon Thames, if not the town of Richmond alone was considered to be the Hollywood of England. With celebrities walking freely amongst the population and the wealthy living alongside the less financially secure.
This would be the ideal location for any self respecting person to live. Alas though there is an obvious minority that prey on the defenceless and would do anything to get there hands on cigarettes, booze and little sweeties.
Some years ago (and I was told this by a life long local) the government decided to rehouse the families of serving inmates of her Majestys pleasure. It was deemed to be more convenient for these families when it came to visiting there loved ones inside. This was only meant to be a short term solution.
Now if you go into the middle of Ham, not to far from the historical Ham House you will find the result of this relocation programme, sixtys high rise blocks where most of the retail outlets immediatley surounding these buildings have been forced to close. Further down the road in Ashburnham Rd there is a very nice part of Ham with a small parade of shops which include two main High St retailers (Tesco and Thresher), a specialist German food store (there is a large German population in Ham due to a foreign school in the area), a chemist, a German bakers and the local Newsagents. Opposite the parade is St Richards church. It’s all very picturesque.
Now for the harsh reality. This small area is plagued by the ‘chav’ element. I worked in this area for 18 months and after my first week I placed a notice in my window banning anybody under the age of 18 from entering my shop unless with an adult (I was the Thresher guy) the main reason being that I had a group of kids in varying age walk in and tried to help themselves to a ton of champagne. My ban went down well with the locals. It allowed people to shop in comfort. The days were very relaxing to work. During the evenings though it was a different kettle of fish. From the moment the rugrats finished what days education they were receiving from the local comprehensive, they would converge outside our small parade. These kids would perch themselves on a wall that was opposite the shops or sit on the trolley bay for Tesco. It didn’t matter what the weather was like. You could have a snow blizzard, thunder, lightening, hail, you get the picture. These kids would always be there.
People couldn’t shop in safety. The elderly of the area were being threatened into buying alcohol or smokes for these kids. I used to patrol the front door at weekend nights, almost having to acting as a bouncer. Then I would have to listen to the kids asking people to buy cigarettes and alcohol, then inform the locals that they were breaking the law by attempting to buy for these kids.
One incident occured in Tesco where a 16 year old with his friends (I might just add that when I say his friends, like all these chavvy groups you have the 16-17 year old leader and all his friends are 8-9-10 etc year olds) decided to ride his bike into Tesco!!!!!!!! Yes that’s right. The intelligence of this muppet thought that it would be really funny to ride his bike up and down the aisles of Tesco. Obviously the management had finally had enough. They kicked out his friends and subsequently locked there automatic door and called the police, leaving the rider in the store. All this was mid afternoon, in broad daylight. Now his friends took great offence to this, after all what could possibly be wrong with riding a bike in a public shopping area. They all started to kick the crap out of the door, causing hundreds of pounds worth of damage to the door. Potential shoppers had to stand back and watch in complete surprise as to what they were seeing. After all, this was not the actions of decent, well raised, intelligent, principled people. WHERE WERE THE BLOODY PARENTS. I can guarantee you this. If you were to raise a hand to these bastards, not only would you have the parent come down to retaliate to your actions and tell you that there child would never behave in such a fashion you would also end up being the one who will get prosecuted. These little s***s know the law. They know that being a minor is a license to do what ever the hell they want.
I used to think how much enjoyment can you get out of sitting on wall, trolley or standing on a street corner for hours upon end can you possibly have.Where are the parents who let there young, pre teen children run riot in the streets at 10 o’clock at night.
Now I think ‘I don’t give a s**t.’ I wouldn’t piss on these kids if they were on fire.
Ham is a nice place with nice people but rotten, rotten kids. A part of me was sad to leave that area but another part couldn’t help be relieved when I was offered a branch outside of the area.