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HomeLife & StyleMY PROFILE SHOP JOBS CLASSIFIEDSFrom The TimesFebruary 18, 2005
Yeah but, no but, why I'm proud to be a chav
Vicky Pollard of Little Britain is a chav, the latest object of middle-class derision. But the sneering reveals more about the detractors than the
WHEN I was first asked by Sky One to make a documentary about the chav phenomenon, it’s fair to say that I had reservations. Even to use the word
seemed, to me, something like spitting in the face of 99 per cent of the people I’ve ever loved — rednecks all, with just a few rogue toffs and
bourgie slacker-boys thrown in.
But it wasn’t just a moral objection — vanity played a part too. For I’ve noticed that calling people “chavs” says far, far more about the
caller than it does the called. And, amusingly, it pinpoints the exact area which the name-caller is most anxious about. Thus individuals who aren’t
getting any good lovin’ will hiss on ceaselessly about how slaggy chavs are; those who know that secretly their job is one long duck,
dive’n’skive (journalists are particularly culpable here) will bang on about how idle chavs are; and those who stayed in long and expensive
educations yet are earning less before tax per annum than Wayne Rooney spends on valet parking each year will be rather cross about how much money he
pulls in with no help from anyone but his rather clever feet. In the end, as a loved-up, honestly idle, uneducated, filthy rich guttersnipe, I just
couldn’t resist the call of the old neighbourhood. “I embrace the common — I explore and sit at the feet of the familiar, the low,” said the
great thinker Emerson. So I did, too — and thoroughly enjoyed it.
I soon learnt that sometimes, hilariously, it is not just individuals who feel chav envy but whole institutions — the Daily Mail, for instance,
whose whole raison d’être would appear to be that SOMEONE, SOMEWHERE IS HAVING FUN AND IT MUST BE STOPPED NOW! — naturally fears, loathes and
envies chavs with a passion. The Mail gripes about their sex drive, their money and their laziness (go figure) but is particularly obsessed with what
it sees as the sky-high chav birthrate, mostly to unwed teenage mothers. However, as in so many things, the Mail seems somewhat confused on this
issue, as when it’s not worrying about young working-class women having too many children, it’s worrying about young middle-class women having too
few. That children are children, and will grow up to be adults who will help to pay for our pensions regardless of their social origins, seems lost on
the ever-anxious Mail — and their concern with the “correct” social origin of said children would seem to be sailing dangerously close to their
fascist sympathies of the past. Though it’s probably phobia and not fascism that inspires such censoriousness; be it chav girls getting pregnant or
posh girls staying childless, they are obviously having TOO MUCH FUN doing so.
Whenever I stand up for chavs — on the basis that the white indigenous English working-class is now the one group you can insult without feeling the
breath of the Commission for Racial Equality on your neck, which makes it pretty damn cowardly apart from being what I call “social racism” —
there will always be some joker who will bend over backwards to reassure me that not ALL the working class are wasters. No, there are the good proles
who slave away ruining their health for a pittance — and then there are the bad proles; the chavs, who work no harder than they have to, and like to
spend what money they have on nice things for themselves and their children — in fact, who are human and, to their detractors at least, unashamed of
that. And here’s the rub — and the accompanying hypocrisy, which will make sense to anyone with more than two brain cells to rub together. The
very things that chavs stand accused of — aspiration, love of material goods, lack of communal values — are the very things that have not just
been fetishised by institutions such as the main political parties and the Daily Mail for the past 30 years, but forced on the British people as
surely as the Industrial Revolution was. The De-Industrial Revolution deprived the working class of skills, trades and neighbourhood socialism, seen
most dramatically in the defeat of the miners and the closing of the pits. Twenty years on, it’s a bit late for voices of the Establishment to pine
for hand-stitched banners, brass bands and scrubbed doorsteps; that’s all gone.
No, we’ve got to work with what we’ve got now — and sticky-beaked sad sacks trying to differentiate between good proles and bad are only showing
their rank ignorance of recent history as well as their totally transparent desire to feel superior to people who have been dealt a pretty poor hand,
both educationally and economically speaking, yet still manage to wring a fair amount of fun from life. During the making of the documentary, my
brilliant friend Michael Collins, author of The Likes of Us: A Biography of the White Working Class, recalls how in the 19th century middle-class
do-gooders berated the costermongers for spending “too much” money on nice clothes for their children. Nothing changes, except that now the
clothes come from Von Dutch. The working class still spend shamelessly — as they rightly should, for which class has worked harder for its money?
Perhaps it is their “betters” who should be more shame-faced in their weird, status-needy spending, be it on five types of extortionately priced
organic lettuce in a poxy salad, a king’s ransom on a fortnight’s living death in a mausoleum in Tuscany or blowing £200 a throw on having some
vicious bint pelt you with hot stones, as many middle-class, media-mad women are apt to do.
Whatever, whenever I hear some well-connected, expensively educated nobody differentiating between the good/bad and the deserving/undeserving
working-class, it only has the effect of making me cleave to the bad, undeserving half, perverse little soul that I am — please, Lord Snooty,
don’t do me no favours! When Dominic Mohan — of The Sun, no less! — says in my documentary that I’m defending chavs because I am a chav, I
felt a deep glow of pride. My people! — right, wrong or falling down drunk with vomit down their velour. And at the end of the day, a people so
lacking in hypocrisy — perhaps the most ludicrous, lowest minor vice of all — and so rich in honesty that anyone even half-alive has to like them.
“If we weren’t doing this, we’d be on the checkout at Tesco,” says the chav princess supreme, Cheryl Tweedy, of the magnificent Girls Aloud
(whose song No Good Advice features on the documentary’s soundtrack). Somehow, I just can’t imagine Jade Jagger or Nigella Lawson admitting the
same about the benefits of being born with a famous name. Let alone Dannii Minogue, who recently claimed during a diss-off with Girls Aloud: “At
least I’m not a chav!” She should be so lucky!
Anyway, to paraphrase Obi-Wan Kenobi, “Who is the chav, the chav, or the one who disses him?” For sure, websites such as chavscum.co.uk
demonstrate exactly the mean-mindedness and talent to abuse that chav-haters accuse chavs of — and the saddos involved refuse to reveal their faces.
Perhaps we are a nation of chavs — and that suits me fine, as the alternative would be being a nation of pretentious ponces; naming no names,
Monsieur et Madame! Look at our “betters”, if you will; the Queen has a gilded coach — it doesn’t get more ostentatious. The third in line to
the throne has a bottle-blonde girlfriend called “Chelsy”; the ninth in line has a pierced, even blonder daughter called Zara. Even Burberry, it
turns out, was founded in Basingstoke rather than Belgravia. And its “chief financial officer”, who recently had the nerve to attempt to distance
her overpriced, underselling product from the replicas still selling like hot cakes by saying “Chavs are yesterday’s news”, is actually called
Stacey. STACEY! No doubt she has sisters called Tracey and Lacey and a brother called Casey — and what fun we’d all have down the Bowlplex,
legless on Bacardi Breezers! Pot, kettle, bling, anybody?
Chavs is on Sky One, Monday, 9pm
WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
The words chav, chavo and chavvy have been used by labourers in the southeast of England since the 19th century. There is considerable evidence that
chav derives from the Romany word for boy, chavo. John Sampson’s The Dialect of the Gypsies of Wales lists it under cavo, “a son” or “boy”,
and relates it to the Sanskrit equivalent, “sava”
No Good Advice Girls Aloud
Firestarter The Prodigy
I Believe In a Thing Called Love The Darkness
Dry Your Eyes The Streets
Bye Bye Boy Jennifer Ellison
Guns Don’t Kill People, Rappers Do Goldie Lookin’ Chain
Dream Dizzee Rascal
La La Ashlee Simpson
I Don’t Want You Back Eamon
Bad Ass Strippa Jentina
Also any Christmas-themed song
Le Coq Sportif
Even among chavs there are three distinct classes...
Upper Chav: The Beckhams — former Spice Girl Victoria and her footballer husband David are Chav royalty. They observed proceedings from
his’n’hers purple thrones on a raised dais at their wedding, sold the pictures to OK! magazine and named their children Brooklyn and Romeo
Middle Chav: Daniella Westbrook — the former EastEnders star and huge fan of Burberry-themed outfits; the fashion house claims that Ms Westbrook has
almost single-handedly ruined its reputation
Lower Chav: Michael Carroll — the 21-year-old persistent offender and former dustman won £9.7 million on the lottery and upset his neighbours in
rural Norfolk when he set fire to a 40-ft mobile home on bonfire night. Makes regular appearances in The Sun. Wayne Rooney and Coleen McLoughlin: the
19-year-old Manchester United footballer and his fiancée wear Von Dutch tracksuits with diamante thongs (her) and bright white adidas sportswear