Ah the song of humming birds, the rushing sound of water as it meanders the tributories and echanting church bells echoing through the valley. These are all the glorious characteristics you’d normally associate with the traditional Welsh villages in the heart of Carmarthenshire and indeed one would suggest, at a first glance, that Whitland has all these charms. But don’t be fooled by its apparent appeal of being surrounded by beautiful countryside. Having lived in Whitland and gone to school for several years I have come to realise that, in fact, Whitland has similar characteristics to a beautifully delicious ripened macintosh apple, with razor blades in it. True to its form it may look pleasant, almost harmless, from the outside but the sheer depths of dispair only surface when you take a huge bite into it.
Upon entering Whitland you are greeted with the facade that is dirty grey pebble-dash housing, burnt out buildings, a derelict behemoth of a train station and loads of horrible shops which many are still empty; oh and the bloody chavs.
But for many years Whitland was a thriving little market town having a very proud traditional welsh industrial backbone propping up the community with its very own milk factory. However, as is often the case, the industry collapsed. To further compound this despair, the demise of Whitland’s industrial spine coincided with the completion of the Whitland bypass which well and truly finished the town off. The resulting concoction was, and still is, a mere pimple on a pig’s d*ck; a sinister town lurking in the shadow of it’s more aspirational neighbour Narberth in Pembrokeshire.
Since the demise of Whitland’s industrial grit the town has seen an influx of intolerant, insufferable and unemployable chavs who, still to this day, patrol the dark and dingy streets of Whitland like swarms of wasps. Whitland has also welcomed a herd of volatile pseudo-irish gypsies bringing trade (in the form of drugs) into this soul-less one-horse town. In fact a few of those very gypsies knocked on my flat door the very evening I moved in, asking me ‘Av yer got any gear boyo?’; and still to this day, each and every house vomits chavs as they head over to the local chip shop of an evening sporting the usual hoddies, trackies tucked in their socks and upturned baseball caps. Rather bizzarely, Whitland chavs have a tendancy to look identical, with either long necks or short cropped ginger hair; and their hostility knows no bounds. The usual activities of a Chav include hurling foul obscenities at passers by, throwing coins at windows, shouting and generally doing what chavs do best.
To further exacerbate the already dismal chaviness that beholds Whitland, there are 2 local chav recruitment offices also known as schools, where wannabe chavs spill onto the streets at the 3 o’clock bell. The adult chavs too have their own chavettes aka girlfriends and are easily identifyable in their uniform brown / pink pajamas pushing prams.
It also goes without saying (but I’m going to say it anyhow) that this small and innocent-looking town is also rife with unemployment and crime. Whitland has the highest population of Jeremy Kyle viewers in the world (probably) and the gap between poverty and greed is nearly as wide as the Andres is long. For much of the poverty-stricken, a trip to the launderette on a Saturday (for those who can afford it) is pretty much the highlight of yer week, and I remember it well.
Thankfully I was one of the lucky ones to escape this downtrodden hole, but you might not be so lucky. Whitland is nestled in a valley which means when you leave this town you are always challenged to climb a hill, and a very large one at that. It’s quite appropriate to suggest that Whitland’s steep hills present the ‘escaper’ with such an arduous challenge that they leave you with no other alternative but to head back to Whitland in acceptance that, at least, you tried to escape. But there’s very little hope of escaping this town as it frantically sucks you in, desperate to cling on to every poor sucker. In fact most of the people I went to school with are still living in Whitland 10 years on, still grasped by the clutches of their dilligent sentence to life in Whtland. Fortunately I got parole.
I’ve been to some miserable places in my time. Slough, Cumbernauld, Bridgend, Neath, Glasgow, Liverpool. We’ve all heard of these places and know of their unspeakable misery. Unfortunately Whitland doesn’t even have the dignity to uphold a reputation to provide material for comedians, which makes Whitland worse than any of these towns. It’s a joke that needs to be explained.
By: Sean Graham