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Home > Culture and Society

The chavs and the chav nots

24 September 2004

This week the annual bestseller, the Pocket World in Figures (P-WIF) was published by the Economist. The book is apparently something of a bible for statistics monkeys, with findings based on official sources in over 191 countries (192 to be exact). The biggest story by far in this year's edition however, is not how rich and happy we're all becoming, but rather a tearful commentary on the rotten state of our nation's teenagers. Particularly the little girls.

'Bad Girls', The Sun called them. 'Lardy Brit Girls' said The Star, somewhat less charitably. The gist of the stats says that Britain's 15-year-old girls are amongst the world's least likely to succeed. They drink more alcohol than any other 15-year-olds on the face of the globe. They are the world's third largest dope
smokers, the fourth most obese and the fifth best at watching telly. Plus Diet Coke is mother's milk to them and their idea of exercise is wanking off two of their boyfriend's mates at the same time. Something like that.

Ah yes. The timebomb ticketh.

One positive note to be drawn from all this is that we could be getting closer to a definition of 'chav' that we can all agree on. For are these not the same girls described in last month's insightful Evening Standard article, 'Here Come The Chavs'? 'They are usually found in packs,' wrote anthropologist par excellence Elizabeth Hopkirk, 'comparing labels and discussing music in
shopping precincts... They can be easily identified by their uniform of tracksuit, trousers tucked into trainers and wannabe bling-bling jewellery...' Them's the ones. Toss in a pair of hula hoop earrings and a Croydon Facelift and we're away. The Vauxhall Chavette has made finally made the serious papers. Or at least P-WIF.

On a similar note, top columnist Dominik Diamond treated Daily Star readers to his own personal take on the 'chav' phenomenon on Wednesday, labelling Britney Spears 'Queen Chav'. He makes a decent fist of it too, citing her low-rent tinsel-tacky wedding to a baseball-capped dullard called Kevin, the tracksuits guests were forced to wear and the fact that every other word in the
best man's speech was either 'innit' or 'cuntinnit'. There was also the fact, missed by Diamond, but truffled-up by the Sun with beautiful timing, that Kev is also well partial to a puff on the old 'erb. Dominik has no qualms with any of this though, don't get him wrong. 'If it makes her happy,' he chirped, 'then what's
the harm?'

Or in other words, Britney's not likely to block your path on a street corner, shove her chunky-clowned tits in your face and try to rob your purse. At least not on a dark night in Essex. Not unless she's *really* pissed.

It is often suggested that the chav thing is just another way of marginalizing and demonising the poor. But chavs are not necessarily poor. Britney aside, who can forget the forerunners of the whole Burberry shebang, Brian Harvey and Danniella Westbrooke? They were already loaded when they hooked up and exploded like a coke-sneeze onto the petri-dish of popular culture. Of course, Brian Harvey lost all of his money through being a small-minded, self-centred, short-sighted thug - or in other words, through being a chav. Danniella Westbrooke on the other hand, famously lost her nose and found a millionaire. What a classy little charver.

So it's not about having a pop at the poor. It's about having a pop at nasty anti-social tykes and their utterly obnoxious behaviour. Street-scum basically. Wrong 'uns as your old gran used to call them back in her day. Bad eggs. Or, if you like, just poorly-parented barely-educated kids with no decent role models, precious few options, zero encouragement and little imagination. So, you can see right there, Diamond's Britney theory is starting to come together.

But as usual, Britney's not the issue. She's got her pre-nup. She'll be fine. The issue is what the hell are we going to do about our little girls? Well, would it be too naive to suggest a game of ping-pong? Maybe not literally - although it is one of the most character-building sports - but you know, just some kind of alternative. For da kids. Something, you know, to do, of an evening, on an inner-city housing estate. Sadly it seems no government will ever be interested in providing such a something. Old-fashioned community centres where the kids can hang out, drink soda pop and doff their caps at one another are seemingly
as much a thing of past imaginings as New Labour's computers for every schoolkid.

If Blair really had his head screwed on, he would stop banning things and legalise and tax all drugs. Those little girls alone could pay for another couple of wars.



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