One of my earliest memories is that of a train journey with my mother and grandfather. As the train pulled into Sittingbourne, my grandfather read the sign and growled “hmmmmm….Shittingbourne more like! He then began to sing a song which had the first line “Chaversham and Shittingbourne where all the gypsies live”. My mother hushed him before he could finish.
This description turned out to be right on the button. Imagine a flat, bleak wasteland between the M2 motorway and the Isle of Sheppey. Fill this flood-plane with paper mills and metal foundries and you have Sittingbourne. It’s a combination of ribbon development and London overspill taken to ludicrous extremes. If you are unfortunate enough to alight at Sittingbourne Station, I suggest you don’t hang around too long.
Flocking like flies to a rotting carcass comes the swarm of chav BMX riders, looking to “ponce” a “fag” from anyone foolish enough to stand still for any length of time. Most riders are far too large and old for their tiny kids bikes but I suppose they must have stolen them from children. Refusal or inability to provide a cigarette generally meets with verbal abuse. You may also be treated to the depressingly regular sight of locals chavs (quit often with chavbabs) trying to get onto a train without paying and then becoming violently abusive when stopped. I had wondered why the porter looked more like a bouncer than a ticket collector.
Opposite this vital “border-control” is “The Forum” shopping mall. Over the years this centrepiece, or commercial hub, has seen many incarnations but sadly very few decent shops. Within this, is the central Square area or largest indoor chav ash-tray in Britain, as gangs of sports-leisure wear bedecked youths gather to swear at passers-by. This is pretty much the only place to shop in Sittingbourne, so consequently most sensible people visit out of town “shopping villages” and retail parks instead.
On reflection , Sittingbourne residents seem to spend all their downtime in Sittingboune trying to leave it. Unfortunately chavs have the same idea and regularly invade neighbouring towns like Faversham, known locally as Chavvy-Favvy or Chaversham, where they obviously fit right in.
The biggest in-house chav-activity apart from the ubiquitous “McShit hangtime” seems to be setting fire to the aforementioned paper mills. The summer holidays habitually roll by with news report after news report of paper mill infernos. Some mills get torched three or more times a year.
I can’t comment on Shittingbourne’s Chav night life because I have never been foolhardy enough to venture there after dark. So far, indications are not favourable.