Welfare, workhouses and wanker bankers: Bob Lethaby gives us his verdict on London’s recent crowning as Britain’s crappest town.
Doesn’t time fly. It is ten years since I received a gift from someone (one of the kids I expect) which was a book called ‘Crap Towns.’
This book was a best selling stocking filler listing the worst towns in Britain, describing urban sprawls, drug invested shut down shopping centres and explosions of crime.
Most of the voting on these towns, it would appear, comes from disaffected folks from within or people voting on towns where their friends live as a form of light-hearted fun poking. However, this year there seems to be one exception.
London has been voted number one!
London gained this remarkable feat courtesy of thousands of votes highlighting its dismal suburbs, murder miles, ludicrous house prices, City bankers and a hopeless transport system that leaves late-night revellers at the mercy of rickshaws, dodgy minicabs or night buses seething with potential violence.
It is described as “a must for all fans of vomit, paranoid schizophrenics and R&B played through tinny mobile-phone speakers”.
However, the city’s rise to crap town status was mostly, ironically, courtesy of the hatred of its most affluent parish, Mayfair: “Its inhabitants are virtually without exception the biggest shower of needy, self-important bumwipes in London, with a self-pity complex and misplaced sense of entitlement to match. The architecture is either dull west London stucco or a twattish approach at some kind of meaningful landmark building. Either way it’s rubbish. Most importantly the pubs are shit. And full of people who live in Mayfair.”
Sam Jordison, co-founder and editor says that: “People in London just have no idea what’s happening in the rest of the country. They take a lot of what works in Britain, but you don’t see much sign of them putting anything back. I think that’s what lies behind the rage of a lot of the nominations.
In my mind, that is a great indication of how people feel across the rest of Britain. We have been utter fools, seeing our standard of living and wages flat lining or even decreasing as public services and facilities become scarce or even redundant. Why? So we can fund all the wankers of deregulation who took the country to the cleaners and then got bailed out by the tax payer for their troubles.
After falling for more than half a century, the share of Britain’s richest 1% (mainly London based) is rising sharply and inequality is nowon course to return to what it was in 1918, you know, when people were either subjected to living in slums or workhouses.
The High Pay Commission reported that these executives’ total pay had risen by 49% during the previous year alone, compared with average increases of less than 3% for their employees.
This wouldn’t bother me so much if we hadn’t paid the following amounts from taxes to bail them out.
- £76 billion on the shares in RBS and Lloyds;
- £200 billion for liquidity support through the Bank of England (Quantitative Easing);
- £250 billion in guarantees on banks’ borrowings;
- £40 billion in loans to Bradford & Bingley and others;
- £280 billion in providing insurance cover for banks’ assets.
Anyone who tells you that the recession was caused by welfare state over spending, is talking complete and utter bollocks.
As the author of crap towns said;
“A lot of the entries for other places are what you might call affectionate hatred, as you might tease a member of the family but know you have to put up with them. That’s not the case with London – the hatred is real.”
It is not without coincidence that Chipping Norton, home of Rebekah Brooks and David Cameron is also in the top ten:
“The crimes of the Chipping Norton set are well known – but the most galling thing for me is that people here are content to let them get away with it. They like having them nearby. They see the manifest corruption, the the destruction of the NHS, the collapse of the economy, the brown-nosing of Rupert Murdoch and demonisation of anyone that earns less than £100,000 a year and think, “I’m going to vote for that man ” again.
“The trouble with Chipping Norton is that it’s full of cunts.”
My own town, Basingstoke has gone from number nine to nowhere in a decade. Quite why this is I don’t know, perhaps the re-building of the town centre, the grandly titled Festival Place, has rescued it from the dubious honour of a top 50 placing.
I am soon to be leaving the town but the for the fifteen years I have been here, I have been very happy, despite living on a lower middle class estate that features little to make people want to live there apart from it’s easy access to amenities. However, since being in Basingstoke, I have met lots of new friends, been involved with the local cricket club and found plenty of charming village pubs scattered around the outskirts. I will miss it when I head south to Ringwood, though I will always come back for cricket and social events. However, I have always been one to move on, I am just not a one town person.
Many people forget that the generation prior to me, lived in Basingstoke enjoying life in what was in effect a rural market town and remnants from those days can still be seen at the top of the town and around Fairfields where the lovely old cricket ground is still situated. It is just a shame that when urban regeneration began after the war, parts of Basingstoke became one of the unfortunate victims of ugly over-spill sink estates; it must have been quite a shock to the Hampshire yokels.
I watched a series a while back called ‘Mapping London Streets’ and when the east end was ripped down, the majority of the residents didn’t want to be re-housed. I could never understand why the money wasn’t spent on upgrading some of the beautiful Victorian houses rather than creating over spill towns that looked ugly then and are even uglier now after decades of decay. Probably so they could create the “City” for the wankers I was talking about earlier.
Whilst having no pity for London, I can’t help, as something of a champion of the underdog, feeling sorry for the folk of Kilmarnock in Scotland, a town that has been beset by industrial recession and was already down on its luck before getting voted worst town in Scotland.
Killie, as it is known, was once an industrial powerhouse that was home to Prize-winning scientist Sir Alexander Fleming and Johnnie Walker whisky, now its town centre is described as a “grim, litter-strewn wind tunnel with nary an outlet that isn’t a pound shop or a pawnbroker. The town is ringed by a growth of dirty-grey, pebble-dashed flats of unspeakable misery…A truly crap town… where heroin addicts and stabbings, as well as football violence and pound shops, are aplenty.”
I can’t help think that London deserves its title, whereas desperate places like Kilmarnock, are just another victim of London’s square mile of theft and gluttony.
Read more of Bob’s work here: http://www.boblethaby.co.uk/2013/11/crap-towns-returns/