Saturday, 13 November 2010

Where the Definitelies Live

In Grays, Essex, (created out of an old chalk quarry) huge Georgian style houses are built on too-small plots, surrounded by a tiny garden full of expensive play equipment. There are no shade trees. All the cars are new Mondeos - nothing is ever bought second hand. There’s nothing to do but give competitive children’s parties with hired entertainers, and go to step aerobics classes (probably now Pilates and Swiss ball). The men have fun with quad bikes and jet skis.

Friern Barnet is rather similar, but more established. Children go to tap or ballet. People live by restoring WWII tanks and then go bankrupt. Business rivals are occasionally shot dead. Families sometimes have wadges of cash, sometimes none. Alternative career choices are protection rackets and private detection of mistresses and secret second families. You can be proud of your son when he gets a good job in a sex shop, or takes up gambling - professionally. Holidays are taken in Blackpool or the gangster parts of Spain. Disputes are solved by violence, running away and never being heard of again, or completely cutting off several members of your family. Get-togethers are difficult as you have to keep track of who’s not talking to whom. No wonder they break out in bisexuality or OCD, order up a Thai bride or suddenly marry their personal trainer or next-door neighbour and move to another continent.

Thanks to @IntervalThinks for fieldwork.

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