This is Part 2 of ‘Manarcy in the UK – Chavification’.
We continue our discussion (or rant) on the ‘chavification’ of the UK along with a comparison with Japan. There’s even enough space for a look at the UK Tube system. For Part 1, click here.
The Home Counties
Despite its flaws, I like London. It is a really ethnically diverse place and a very open society. There are lots of different cultures and things to do. The housing issue definitely sucks and the transport system needs some improvement, but it is a great place to live.
On the other hand, my hometown – a small town in the Midlands is a different matter. I was asked once whether I liked my home county by a work colleague. In previous conversations with her, I must have given the impression that I was not altogether keen on it.
In truth, it is because I am convinced my home town hates me. Every time I return to visit my aging parent I am nearly always abused in some way by some young idiot adult, child or chav. The Chavification is strong there.
Beware the alloy wheels
For example, on one occasion in an area where I went to school, I was filling up my mother’s car at a petrol forecourt, when some wannabee gangsters (four young men in a souped up fiesta) gave me some abuse for no reason, other than perhaps I was alone or well-dressed (i.e. not wearing trainers).
Or perhaps it was because I didn’t look like the sort that would fight back, which I’m not, because I’m not stupid enough to start an argument with four ‘youths‘ in a crappy fiesta.
In London, I have rarely been abused in any comparable way as in my home county even though London contains more a wider number of ethnic groups, poorer areas or council housing. London is doing something better than the home counties.
It’s a shame because my home county is actually a really beautiful place, with some areas of natural beauty and lots of cultural history. It was the birthplace of the industrial revolution and has a great museum.
The rise of the chav
However, this has all been sullied by a strange phenomenon – the rise of chavvish or churlish behaviour. Or in other words – the chavification of the UK. And its nothing to do with being brought up in a council house, because as I said many people have been brought in council houses, but are nothing like this. My father was brought up in one and so was I. But we don’t feel the need to abuse our fellow neighbours.
In the past 20 years, we have seen a ‘chavification’ occurring of many towns and cities throughout the UK. I would call this a reverse process of the ‘gentrification’ effect, which is occurring in London and other major cities.
Ludlow is a prime example. It has two cultural great historic spots – Ludlow castle, a ruin, but a grand ruin nonetheless and Ludlow arts and crafts market. There are also lots of old Tudor houses.
Ludlow is a beautiful old traditional town. It is the sort of town you can imagine where they might build a Waitrose’s or Marks & Spencer’s to cater to the middle class/liberal/ Green Party fanatics or NIMBY’s (not in my back garden) people who occupy these kinds of places. However, instead they have a big Lidl and a large chav population.
I have taken my wife there to see the castle. In the past, I visited with a girlfriend. It is a great historic site and I love climbing the steps up one of the towers.
However, Ludlow is not how I remember it from when I was a child. It has a significant chav population that hang around the carparking areas. On one occasion with a friend, I had to walk past a group of loud mouthed, ‘in-your-face’ teenagers hanging around the one single footway from the car park to the centre of the town.
With the distraction of ‘people’ to momentarily take their attention away from loitering, they made some rude comments, but rather than walk on, I engaged a little with them and ended up talking a little about X-factor.
Overall, I would say their presence would be intimidating especially to tourists. The curious thing is that it was the teenage girls that were the loudest and most obnoxious. The boys didn’t say anything.
And it’s not just Ludlow. There are plenty of towns replete with chavs. So what really is going on here?
Is it a conspiracy?
It’s almost like that movie, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, but instead all the normal well-behaved people have been replaced by some kind of alien species of subhuman.
I assume people must have been better behaved in the past, when I speak to my father or aunts, but perhaps it has always been the same. I wouldn’t know. Perhaps, there are always going to be rude or badly mannered people around. It is a part of life.
After being in the UK, so long, you get used to it in that it becomes normal. I wonder if it is like this in other countries? Has the chavification process occurred. I can imagine it has, maybe even worse. In which case, good manners are then a reflection of your family, background and upbringing and not just about country.
Apply ‘My Fair Lady’ Lessons
So if you are from a scummy background and upbringing, the way to lift yourself to a higher status or level is to get used to being polite and showing manners – kind of like Eliza does in the Rex Harrison movie My Fair Lady.
Or if you want to lower your status, regardless of your background, then start acting like a chav, swearing, getting angry at people and maybe even assaulting them. A good way to start is becoming a dick behind the wheel.
What it means is that politeness and manners are a state of being. We can choose them, and they affect us accordingly by raising our energy level. Or we can reject them and then sink and play in the sty energetically with all the other filthy pigs (no offence intended to actual pigs, who are quite charming). This is metaphorical. It is our choice in life.
My only point of reference is Japan, where I lived for a few years. For the most part, people are civil and kids are well-behaved in public. In school, it may be a different matter.
Most people are law-abiding especially young men. On the streets or on public transport you can be sure that you won’t have to endure anti-social behaviour, aggressive driving, or risk of abuse or assault.
Japan is not all sunshine and roses despite its reputation as a safe country
There are some exceptions to this. For example, I had a Philippino work colleague who told me he was rudely shouted at by a stressed Japanese salaryman whilst on the train because his kid kept crying, so clearly there are some dumbasses in Japan too.
This may have been caused by racism as some low-level Japanese look down on people from South Asian countries. (But then again, they also treat their own population like work-slaves).
On another occasion, my wife told me how on her way back from work, she passed a man in the street who suddenly and for no reason punched her and then carried on walking. She was not hurt as it was not a strong punch, but still nonetheless in the UK that would be considered a criminal assault. I tried to get her to call the police, but she just let it go. She thought he was just a mentally disturbed person. Perhaps he was, but still…
Train perverts in Japan
Another issue is the ‘chikan densha’ phenomenon (train groping). This is where a respectable middle-aged company worker gropes school girls whilst in the middle of a crowded rush-hour train. Sounds unbelievable, but it is really common.
The girls will rarely complain so it just goes on. This is one the reasons why they have ‘women only’ train carriages there. And if you are male, you had better stay the hell off them during their hours of operation, because these normally friendly Japanese women will give you some really ugly looks if you get on them by accident and even male foreigners don’t get a pass.
Women’s only carriages in the UK – I don’t think so
The dumb thing is that the government in the UK tried to introduce ‘women’s only’ carriages onto the London underground a few years ago. They were probably inspired by the Japanese approach.
However, the fact that they thought it was necessary in the UK tells you that none of these ‘politicians’ clearly use the underground. Women don’t get groped on trains in the UK in any way similar to how it occurs in Japan. Women here are far more stronger-willed and more vocal, so if any man dared touch a woman’s bosom, I’m pretty sure it will turn ugly very fast.
The UK train system discriminates against disabled people
I suppose the idea of a ‘women’s only’ carriage could work but it would be a waste of time and money.
But here’s an idea… If they really wanted to do something good – how about adding in lifts and ramps to all stations so that disabled people, the elderly and mothers (or fathers) with buggies could safely use it?
Or perhaps London likes having a tube system that belongs to a different era and is discriminatory towards disabled people in society?
But it’s old
They may argue, the London underground is 150 years old – it was built in the Victorian age and so it is very difficult to add in new constructions like lifts and ramps.
Stuff and nonsense, I say. What it means is that we’ve had 150 years to make it better by adding in ramps and lifts, but we couldn’t be bothered to invest. In Japan, every single train station has a lift or ramp.
Instead 150 years later we have strikes and unannounced “planned engineering works” on bank holiday weekends – exactly when people want to use the tube. In the UK, there is this strange situation where some stations will have elevators but then will still have an extra flight of stairs or two that passengers have to traverse.
I have carried countless pushchairs (mine and other people’s) up and down steps, whilst rail staff stand around. I don’t blame them. They would probably permanently damage their backs if they spent all day lifting pushchairs up and down stairs.
The irony is that if they damaged their backs and got signed off work as sick or disabled, they’d have to stay home all day because they wouldn’t be able to use public transport to go anywhere, what with all those stairs.
But anyway, going back to my original topic, I suppose there are good and bad manners everywhere you go.
Perhaps this high level of lawfulness and politeness is because on many street corners in Japan, there is a manned police box (koban) and the police there are armed. They usually just sit and in them and give directions to locals, but they are there nonetheless ready to go into action.
In the UK, the ony time you see police is when they are ‘nee-nya-ing’ in their police cars, driving at high speeds past traffic lights, whilst you have to make way. Although you will see hundreds of them at protests or marches.
I suppose there are also those community officers. I saw them flag down a young woman on her way to work in the morning on her bicycle. Perhaps it was because she didn’t have a helmet on or something. Important police work that.
Call to report a crime: Your call is in a queue…
If a non-serious crime happens, like when my father had his phone stolen, you have to report it by telephone or online. We initially tried calling but our call was put in a queue and we got fed up of waiting. So we did it online, which was quite an efficient way of doing it for me. Although, not so efficient if you are a pensioner with limited computer skills.
Mind you, it’s kind of ironic having to call a number to report your phone being stolen.
Conclusion: Man in the mirror
As the Michael Jackson song goes – ‘I’m starting with the man in the mirror, I’m asking him to change his ways’.
Politeness and manners are something we all have to take responsibility for, whether it is in us or our families. There are many acts in our daily life that can be perceived as rude and many acts that can be seen as polite.
Even the simplest thing like saying ‘thank you’, or ‘sorry’ or ‘excuse me’ makes a huge difference. Civility begets more civility.
It is not about being a wallflower. There are times when you have to be firm and sometimes even hard. Although it is good to diffuse those situations before they have to go that far. And I think politeness is one way. It’s kind of like being a crocodile with a smile. Be polite, but behind that politeness is toughness. Kind of like an old-skool school teacher.
Thank you for reading.
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