Of all the towns laying claim to chav-appeal, the miserable peri-urban sprawl of Staines, this architectural blot on the Middlesex landscape, sits head and shoulders above the rest. It is the absolute apex of Chav residential aspiration, crammed as it is from end to end with tattooed, burberry-clad knuckle-draggers… the slack-jawed, insolent, gum-chewing and witless sort of pond life that should, by rights, be floating in a bottle of formalin in some medical museum for future anthropologists to learn from, rather than cruising the streets and the local bus station as they do (the chavs, that is, not the anthropologists), cheap jeans around their knees priapically exposing lurid tartan boxer shorts that house the revolting generative equipment required to oblige the local Sharons and Tracys with a chav sprog to further their chances of a council flat and up their benefits a nudge.
Other than the few almost-respectable pubs and isolated, unbearably cutesy-poo little three-hundred-year-old villagey houses that cling to the banks of the lazy and autumn-swollen Thames, and which are the last link between Staines’ forgotten respectability and the final downward rung on the slippery ladder to chavdom, there is no justification for the place to exist, and it should be napalmed at once as the only way to rid it of the creeping burberry plague. We can’t take a chance.
For my sins, I’m a journalist – and a friend of mine, a gentle, decent and honourable man – drives a bus. This bus travels through the back-streets of Staines’s appalling slum satellite, Stanwell – which borders Heathrow airport, and which has secured an enviable place in chav history by being the first town to have a police curfew imposed on the nomadic, marauding bands of chavs and to have its buses regularly withdrawn by the bus companies, thanks to the intervention of the local chavdom.
Buses are regularly stoned (no, not that kind of stoned – you know what I mean); they have had wheelnuts fired through their windows from high-powered catapults, with drivers and passengers being injured – and have had their way blocked by drooling little bling-bedecked, burberry-clad, sovved-up chavlets on bicycles, who open the engine flap at the back, knowing that there they will find the emergency switch that cuts the motor, which they do.
What follows – opening the emergency door at the back, for example, in an effort to get the driver to leave his seat so that they can have it away with his cash tray – has the potential to go disastrously wrong. Several soptty, runty examples of local chavhood have already been given ASBOs, and blissfully disregard them daily.
What chavvy and his mates seem to lose sight of – if, indeed, they have the capacity for thought at all – is that if a bus driver is injured and the bus crashes, or if old Doris three rows from the back has her gentle old grey head punctured by one of their missiles, or has a heart attack and dies of fright, we are suddenly talking murder, chavvy lad – and we are suddenly in the big league, which is a very, very uncomfortable spot for little would-be hard men.
Someone – probably a policeman – wrote brilliantly on this site recently of chavvy’s adventures in the heavily soundproofed custody suite of the local nick after it all went horribly wrong one glorious alcopop-fuelled Friday night, and he did something naughty that invited the attention of the local constabulary.
The eleventh commandment – and certainly the only one known to chavvy and his inbred, brave-in-large-numbers-but-not-so-brave-otherwise little chums – is ‘Thou shalt not, whatever you do, get fuckin’ caught.’
And, of course, normally they arrange things so that they don’t. But it’s a numbers game, and the law of averages says that – one day – chavvy’s planning will go wrong, and he will be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
An old-style basement interview with an enraged, 18-stone, magenta sergeant bearing a grudge and some of his more persuasive pals down the local nick, while an innocent bus driver – a gentle family man – or helpless old Doris lies dead next door, under a sheet that’s been pulled up all the way, is not an experience that chavvy is likely to enjoy very much. Furthermore, all the other bus drivers, and old Doris’s son quietly doing time in Belmarsh, and soon out for good behaviour, will be very annoyed indeed.
It is, however certainly one that Chavvy will remember – and during which he will have ample chance to explore every possible meaning of the word ‘pain’ – the very same pain that he and his bovine cohorts so happily inflict on others in these dangerous and infinitely childish games.
There is real hate, though, in the face of chavvy and his odious crew; you can see it simmering there. American television and the so-called gangster ‘culture’ have a lot to answer for.
And the vacant, sniffling little 14-year-old chavettes – small girls, barely through puberty, who talk through their noses and who are already pushing their own burberry prams down to the Social Security office with their frightening mothers – are, in a way, more savagely frightening in the intensity of their hate than bewildered, testosterone-fuelled, crotch-grabbing little Gazza pulling handbrake turns in his Saxo in McDonald’s car park on a Friday night.