Paige Bond is an attractive blonde lady of a certain age – thrillingly, the Evening Standard claimed that she was both 48 and 57 in the same report. As far as one can judge from photographs, she looks lively and confident, so I imagine she was irked to say the least when after applying for a job with an organic grocers, Forest Whole Foods of Hampshire, she mistakenly received an email from one employee of the company to another summing her up in terms which are all too typical of the sort of snoot who believes that espousing over-priced organic food is yet another handy way of looking down on one’s fellow humans – like being a ‘traveller’ rather than a tourist, or voting Remain rather than Leave.
One ‘Josie Bickle’ had a look at Miss Bond’s Facebook page and concluded that ‘She is probably worth interviewing if you think you can cope with having someone like her around…would lift spirits in the packing room…slightly irritating…I bet her voice is REALLY irritating…chavvy.’ Miss Bond responded with admirable amour propre, as befitting one with her frankly magnificent ‘rack’ (again, judging from her social media snaps) telling the Sun: ‘I’m quite glamorous and, yes, I have big boobs but how can they judge me on that? I enjoy a selfie, but if I’m being judged on this, it’s disgusting. It’s humiliating and totally wrong.’ And then she goes and spoils it all by saying something stupid like ‘The last thing I am is a chav…’
How my heart sinks whenever I read this dismaying disclaimer. Black American rappers regularly use the vile N-word to each other – as well as the bracing ‘bitch’ and ‘ho’ of their lady-loves – as a questionable way of removing the slave-owning sting from it. Homosexuals oft reject the rather mimsy ‘gay’ in favour of the exciting ‘queer’ in a bid to seem more like ruffians on the stair than desiccated dearies bickering in the Soft Furnishings department. I have several young feminist friends who, at the first sign of clement weather, cannot wait to rend their garments and eagerly trot off to the nearest ‘Slut-Walk’ whereby they stake their claim to sexual equality in a manner which would have had the strait-laced suffragettes fainting away onto antimacassars by the score.
But call someone a chav and not only will they have the vapours and/or threaten the caller with a knuckle sandwich, but often they will look around wildly for someone else to chav-ify. This is a phenomena sadly prevalent among those with the lowest status in our society – unlike the gold-drenched rappers, cultured queens and over-educated young prostitute-impersonators who are so keen to call a spade a spade – and I’ve had many friends on benefits use it of their equally straitened neighbours, just as I’ve had retired whore friends who liked to use the word ‘slag’ about any attractive young women showing off the body the good Lord gave her. I’m a tolerant woman, but in both circumstances I find that an old-fashioned look and a refusal to buy another round of drinks until the slanderer sees the small-minded error of their ways and formally recants works a treat.
The horrified reaction of those accused of being chavs compared to the swanking ownership of slurs from other – undeniably historically persecuted – groups raises a question which we prefer to gloss over in these days of knee-jerk identity politics. There is glamour in being a gay, a gangsta or a bad gal, the bottom line being that these identities can easily be parlayed into easy, enjoyable and well-paid careers – look at the fashion industry in which a straight man sticks out like a sore thumb, the grime millionaires, the provocative young women who bring such vivacity to the world of popular music. As the psychologist Abraham Maslow wrote ‘The most beautiful fate, the most wonderful good fortune that can happen to any human being, is to be paid for doing that which he passionately loves to do.’
Talking of popular music, no profession profile illustrates more shockingly the rolling back of class mobility – while fewer than one in ten British children attends a fee-paying school, a whopping 60 per cent of rock music chart acts are now ex-public school, compared with one per cent 20 years ago. Brexit was the fruit of many neglects, and the reversal of social mobility alongside the rise of social racism was surely one of the most poisonous – yet on Freedom Day itself, even I was shocked by the doubling down on the C-word by the snobs. ‘The chavs have won, mate,’ one cut-glass Glastonbury raver was reported as saying in the Sunday Times while elsewhere in the paper a Brighton Remnant commented ‘If you give a vote to every man and his dog, you have to be prepared for the answer you get.’
WELCOME TO CHAV BRITAIN was a friend of a friend’s FB status the morning of the result; another acquaintance whined that Brexit had been inflicted on the country by ‘the bottom set at school.’ And you know what? They’re right. We, the Chav Army, won Brexit – and there’s more where that came from. Let us wear our name with pride – and that includes you, Paige Bond – as every other marginalised group does. For the future is ours – irritating voices and all.
People Like Us, a play about sex and Brexit by Julie Burchill and Jane Robins, debuts at the Union Theatre, London SE1, this autumn.