Much as I would like to take you on a tour of some of the highlights that are Rochdale, I fear I have not the space. We must miss such areas as Freehold, Spotland, Falinge, Castleton and Newbold – names synonymous with shell-suits tucked into socks, gold chains the size of rigging rope and male humanoids that walk like a gangster with a bad leg and sore groin. Instead we shall focus on the hub of Chav Rochdale; a town with two hearts that has absorbed into the very concrete which built this once-fine town all that is Chav in the world. Take away the people and Rochdale is still Chav. Indeed, it poses the question, which came first – Rochdale or the Chav?
I must warn you to steel yourself my friends, you have seen nothing like this: Lets enter Rochdale on the favourite mode of transport for your average Rochdale Chav – the bus. Do not be fooled by its 1960’s concrete rush-job finish, Rochdale bus station is one of the finest in the Rochdale area. As you depart the bus, ignore the sticky, minty smelling substance on the seat of your pants and look around you at the scattering of self-disrespecting Chavs and Chavettes that can be found consuming their breakfast of burger and chips whilst waiting for no particular reason at the bus stops. Between, or sometimes during, a mouthful of chips you may find yourself unexpectedly engaged in “conversation” with said Chavs. I suggest politely, but swiftly nodding and making your way over to the exit. Try to avoid eye contact.
Follow the signs for the Wheatsheaf Centre – the most recent addition to Rochdale’s shopping experience, built around 25 years ago. Don’t be fooled by trying to figure out the lack of visible shoppers in the Wheatsheaf, there simply are none. After passing by the library where very few Chavs are ever spotted, you will need to make your way through the Chav-haven that is TJ Hughes and out through to the central café area. Occasionally you may be lucky enough to witness one of the more popular sporting activities amongst Rochdale Chavs – the Public Fight, wherein verbal abuse and spitting form the prelude to a number of half hearted thumps before security arrives.
Entering Yorkshire Street, our primary shopping thoroughfare, you have the choice of right towards Cash Generator, Kwik Save and a plethora of cut-price jewellers, pubs and pound shops or left towards Mothercare, MacDonalds and the pride of Chav Rochdale – the previously mentioned two beating hearts in the proud, flabby and slightly sweaty chest of this town – our two markets. That’s right, two markets. Needless to say that at any given day of the week, at any given time of the afternoon, you are guaranteed to find yourself surrounded by those upholding the Chav-like quality that are Rochdale’s finest. Take in the smells – the strong whiff of tobacco and fatty foods with subtle hints of exhaust fumes, sweat and damp vegetables from the market area; see if you cant detect a undertone of vomit, Karate aftershave and old cheese. Listen to the sounds as you stand in the centre of the Chav universe – swearing near and far, the screech of car tires outside, police sirens and the distant screams from the town-flats underpass. Look around and soak it up – no need for soap or showers in this part of the world. No need to hide the rolls of fat around one’s midriff, no need to bother with personal hygiene or inconveniences such as makeup or combs. You are now standing in the centre of the universe. Breath deep my friend, soak it up. Then make your choice – leave fast or stay forever.