This splendid post was written by Helen Pockett in response to my last piece about Chipping Norton:
As the person who nominated Chipping Norton as a candidate for most middle class place in Britain, I can’t help but feel responsible for Sam and Elly’s disappointing trip. I now concede that Chipping Norton is not a middle class town (ahem… see the photo of the cricket team). However, Sam has asked me to defend my choice and, despite the fact that I thought I hated the place, I’ve kind of found myself wanting to. So here are some insights:
1. The locals, once you get to know them – which granted could take anywhere up to twelve years – are some of the nicest and most welcoming people you will ever meet. They may appear aloof, but I’m convinced it’s because CN’s residents are well-practised at pretending they didn’t just see the prime minister squeezing a melon, Alex James buying a roll of sellotape or Captain Jean-Luc Picard trying to manoeuvre a super-wide vintage Jaguar into a parking space no wider than a motorbike.
2. Like you said, it’s a fairly clique-y place. But that does mean that making friends with one person is like making friends with twenty.
3. It’s the highest point in the Cotswolds (on a par with the Ural mountains in Russia) so the views are spectacular. But it’s fricking freezing in winter and walking about town for any length of time will murder your shins.
4. For a tiny town in the middle of nowhere, it’s remarkably well served. You can get pretty much anything you want (as long as you don’t want it after 5pm or on a Sunday).
5. Unless what you want is cocaine, which you can get anywhere, any time…
6. In the summer, it’s crawling with tourists (though this is less the case since Ronnie Barker died), although it’s also not really that far from London so escape is only an hour’s train ride away.
Some other (ridiculous) highlights:
The opening of the refurbished swimming pool – http://bit.ly/hP0fGt
When they found a bomb buried under the golf course – http://bit.ly/mNqf2q
The planned mass evacuation exercise – http://bit.ly/ghrlE9
The Rollright Stones – http://bit.ly/4R3L5
Even people’s dinner parties make the news – http://bit.ly/jspJaG
So there you go. Fans of gnarly local politics might especially enjoy reading the news pages of ChippingNorton.net where there are fantastic stories of apparently poltically motivated beatings, the chairperson of the local Tory party expecting “the police to jump to her tune” and harrass members of other parties and of a bid to open a kebab shop in the town being “skewered”.
I’ve had a very interesting time visiting Slough, Lewes, and Crouch End in my bid to meet as many glocals as possible… I’ve got a few more places in my sights, but would love to receive nominations and ideas for further explorations. Write as much or as little about them as you like if you do nominate… Thanks!
(Just post in the comments if you do have something to suggest – also for any comments on Chippy….They’re a bit hidden. There’s a small button under this post if you’re looking from the main page, scroll down if you’re on the article specific page.)