Cursing the Darkness

Of late a number of websites have sprung up attacking a section of the British population they call “chavs”, which roughly equates to “white trash” (I’ve never heard black people being called this). I can’t remember ever hearing the term “chav” before this year until I saw references to a newspaper article about them, in which it was suggested that anti-chav feeling was just snobbery, and letters were published in response saying that no, it’s not just snobbery, these people are nasty, and they molest people and are sometimes violent. I did a Google search for the term chav, and one of the first sites to come up was one called ChavScum, which was then subtitled “A Humorous Guide to Britain’s Burgeoning Peasant Underclass” but which has since changed to “A User’s Guide to Britain’s New Ruling Class”. The site has sections on how to recognise a chav (fake Burberry baseball caps, sportswear with prominent logos, cheap but prominent jewellery), the music they listen to (R&B for the girls, rap for the boys, dance “music” for both), the films (slushy romances and Fast & Furious type rubbish), the ferocious dogs they supposedly like, their car modifications and street racing, and the trashy TV they watch. There is a section called “name your chav baby” in which they will give you a name from a very narrow collection. And there is a collection of links to similar sites including “Chatham Girls”, “Sheppey Scum” (these are both places in the north of Kent county), “the Anti-Townie Bible” and “Glasgow Survival”. And they have just started a new spin-off site called Chav Towns.

These websites (including Chatham Girls) are all the same litany of stereotypes, gross exaggeration and general slander. “Glasgow Survival” lists several different types of “neds” including the “Family Man Ned”:

This ned is slightly older than the other neds as he will have at least three children and can be considered as a good example of what happens to a young common ned who does not grow out of neddism. A ned can become trapped inside ned circles if he gets lumbered with a “wean”, turning into a family man ned, usually at the ages of 13 to 15.

These websites don’t look obnoxious at first because they appear to take a humorous look at the decline in popular culture and the appearance of a large class of undereducated people. They are obnoxious, however, because of the sexual insults and aspersions against whole populations, and because the awfulness of the places and people described are massively overstated. My old home town of Croydon is called “a place famous throughout the UK for being a scum hole” and its main shopping centre, the Whitgift centre, is called a “pikey temple” (pikey means gypsy, but here it clearly means the same as chav) and said to have “more McDonalds, KFC’s and Burger Kings than any other place on the planet” which is just plain nonsense - it has one McDonalds, no Burger King and no KFC (there are two of the latter in Croydon, one on Crown Hill and one on London Road opposite West Croydon train station). They make a big fuss about how scary Croydon is at night, when in fact it is no worse than many other places and, in fact, some would say wealthier and whiter Sutton, about four miles to the west, is worse. We lived in Croydon for 25 years (in working-class West Croydon and later north-east Croydon, never in “posh Purley”!), and we had our car broken into a few times, but we never got burgled and I’ve never been mugged in my life, alhamdu lillah.

There is a saying that it’s better to light a candle than to curse the darkness, and cursing the darkness is just what these websites are doing. They let people just “vent” about things that annoy them without giving any suggestion of what to do about it, except for ethnic cleansing and nuking the places concerned. The biggest problem with Croydon has always been its people, who don’t want to do anything to improve it - they just moan about what a dump it is, and in some cases the local papers print letters to this effect. There are problems with the decline of popular culture. Popular entertainment is in many cases just plain rubbish, and it has been for decades. How anyone can enjoy a “song” like “I Like To Move It Move It” without the influence of drugs is beyond me. There is a lot of indecency in this music which is often performed by barely-dressed females who are then imitated in the streets. People name their kids after these people, a lot of whom have stupid or inappropriate names. A few of these “chavs” are criminals. But for the most part, they are not really evil people. They are just apathetic and poorly educated. They are kids who have nothing to do, and so they roam around and cause a nuisance. I am sure something can be done about the phenomenon, and it will take more than just setting up a website to insult and mock people.

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