“To be born an Englishman is to win first prize in the lottery of life”, is a well-known quotation of debatable provenance. I was born an Englishman, but my winnings were squandered due to having to spend my formative years in a chav hellhole. The word ‘Quedgeley’ sounds like a struggle to extract a mired wellington boot from a treacherous slurry pit. And that’s what this sprawl of estates on the outskirts of Gloucester is: a s**t pit. Gloucester is known as the Armpit of the South West and Quedgeley is now known as the Armpit of Gloucester. An armpit of an armpit! That’s pretty bad, folks.
The story of the rise and fall of this haphazard suburban wasteland makes depressing reading, especially as 30 years ago it didn’t even exist! The strip of houses astride what was then the A38 that is now the chav dormitory from Hell was just the apple of a p***y’s eye; its name was barely worth printing on the map; blink, and you’d have missed it. Greedy, unprincipled developers somehow managed to acquire every piece of land large enough to unfurl a handkerchief on, and were granted planning permission to build pretty much as they liked, in connivance with corrupt, incompetent, über-chav councillors. At first the development became a desirable neighbourhood. The houses were smart and comfortable with prices to match, attracting generally decent, conscientious and upwardly-mobile residents (albeit who didn’t mind living on a permanent building site where even today the roads are not tarmac’ed smoothly). The rot soon set in, though. As the land ran out, new houses became smaller and tackier in order to fill every conceivable piece of space. A shopping centre had to be built and this naturally attracted every piece of chav scum-in-waiting, from within the area and without, to put down their Playstations and congregate aimlessly. A monolithic chain pub was stuck out in the middle of a piece of waste ground like Shane MacGowan’s sole remaining tooth, acting as a magnet to exactly the type of punter you wouldn’t want in a local pub: noisy, dim, alcopop-quaffing chavs and chavettes (with babies in buggies). In the 90’s property prices crashed and many houses were repossessed from decent folk, to be sold at knock-down prices to white trash who looked like they were more used to living in a caravan towed behind a Transit van, or acquired by the council for scummy mummies and other problem cases. The Tesco’s supermarket was deemed too posh for the current class of resident, so a Lidl, Matalan, Brantano, KFC, Harvester and the biggest blinging video shop in the world were quickly thrown up. And they’re still building. Are we all part of some grotesque social experiment?
Lloyd Grosman might ask, “who would live in a s******e like this?”, and it’s a valid question. Genes are in short supply in the Gloucester area anyway, and there is allegedly something in the River Severn’s water that completes the transformation of average people into total cretins, but certain social groups (ie: the higher ones) are not represented here at all. 3 main types of people can be observed: miserable old coffin-dodgers eking out their final years in sheltered housing; slobby shell-suited layabouts of indeterminate age, chain-smoking and boozing themselves into an early grave (although, sadly, this rarely happens);and gobby chav kids, faahsaahnds of ’em! They breed like rats, these people. It must be a genetically programmed response to drop sprogs early and often, as in countries with low life-expectancy and high infant mortality. Any form of cultural activity is banned, nay alien. In order to achieve the IQ of one normal person, chavs are required to congregate in large groups in order to federate their brain power. Making a lot of noise is cool, innit? Especially drunken gobbing-off late at night. What they cannot steal they will break. A new police station was proudly built. Days before the official opening the pikeys climbed into the back yard and trashed the patrol cars. This should have been an eye-opener for the police as to the class of scum they would be dealing with but, no, they responded by closing the station at nights when the chavs come out in force. Burnt-out cars are commonplace. Every field gateway in the surrounding countryside has a mattress, fridge, tyres and brace of bin bags dumped in it. Bus drivers boycotted the area after buses were bricked. We the taxpayers shelled out on a meeting shelter for poor, deprived teenage chavs with “nothing to do”, which they soon burned down. There are 14-year-old kids proudly sporting ASBOs and a recent warning went out in the local paper to state that crack-houses would be closed down. And the barbeques! Oi, chavs, no! Just because the temperature has risen to double figures, it does not mean that you have carte blanche to dispense your weapons of mass destruction, in the guise of the fallout from charred Asda sausages, on decent, law-abiding passers-by.
Every time I pass the 30 mph sign (which inevitably someone will have sprayed to read ’80’ – stitch my sides up, please) to enter this scumburb I have a little wager with myself to see how long it is before I witness a notably chavvy sight or event, and hope fervently that I will see none; the chavs are just a feature of my own paranoia and everything is alright with the world after all. Typically, however, the wait is less than 30 seconds. I WILL see Vicky Pollard waddling down the pavement, there WILL be a boy-racer up my arse with fog lights blazing, every phone box WILL be smashed, there WILL be a gang of 30 slack-jawed chavs on every corner, the random noise (police sirens, racing motorbikes, screeching cars/chavettes, smashing windows) WILL be omnipresent. It is easy to get the better of chavs in this area because they are all as thick as pigshit. For all their gobbiness, the younger chavlings are truly as soft as shite. Brought up in front of Trisha, on a diet of Sunny D and Pringles, never having done a day’s work or an hour’s sport in their life, they are in no condition to go mixing it. They can barely carry their own bling. Walk past them and they go quiet; 50 metres on they will shout something behind you and then leg it when you look back. The older chav/coffin-dodger can be totally spooked by a cheery ‘good morning!’. Good manners and apparent friendliness are things right out of their comfort zone.
The biggest laugh I had was when one particularly brave chav angrily accused me of being gay. (I most certainly am not, and I resemble a bulldog licking piss off a nettle.) He was just confused because he had never encountered somebody not wearing a tracksuit, baseball cap and bling, who could string a sentence together, was clean shaven, didn’t stink and didn’t have a gut hanging over an elasticated waistband.
One positive thing to come out of Quedgeley is that Vauxhall released a new model in response to demand: the Chavalier (Limited Quedgeley Edition). This is the big brother to the Chavstra and is optimised for urban chav driving. Take a moment to study the sales blurb: “Extensive research has shown that the mean speed of the chav driver in the urban cycle is a surprisingly consistent 47.91 mph, regardless of weather, traffic conditions, speed limits and people with Zimmer frames crossing the car park in front of them. The Chavalier employs Dodgem(TM) technology, dispensing with clutch, brake and gearbox. Depressing the single pedal channels the power generated by the Giro-friendly 75 bhp 1.3L engine through a torque converter, accelerating the car to the Optimum Chav Speed (OCS) as quickly as possible, using the highest possible revs for impressive noise and visual effect. Releasing the pedal applies the brakes sharply. The Chavalier is available only in faded red, with colour-coded birdshit decals. As a safety feature, sidelights and fog lights come on automatically whenever the engine is started. Frivolous accessories, like indicators and tax disk holder, are not available on this model. However, a replica ‘Disabled’ badge can be supplied to avoid being clamped at the supermarket. ICE is available as a dealer fit; please select your head unit from the local car boot sale and we will supply a complementary bent coathanger aerial. Very large speakers are available very cheaply from our partners, Halfords (ask for the Goodmans Premium range). In order to protect the environment (and your Giro), tyres on this model do not need to be changed until the tread depth is down to 0.01mm. A range of personalised number plates is available for early buyers, including: P1 KEY, TW4 T, W4 NK 3R and p155 OFF.” Clarkson might be interested.
I paint a grim picture. To be fair, 90% of people in the area are decent, honest and hard-working. Unfortunately, only the chavs are in evidence. The really sad fact is that this type of place is not exceptionally chavvy, but is actually just average for the UK in the 21st Century.