Monday, 13 June 2011

I which The Only Way Isn't Worthing

I've just had a very interesting taxi journey, from my parents' house to Worthing station. It went like this:

Driver: "So where are you going?"

Me: "London."

Driver: "Why?"

Me. "I live there."

Driver: "Uggh. Why?"

Me. "Um. It's nice?"

Driver: "It's a shithole."

Me: "Oh. Wow. Ok. The WHOLE of London is a shithole?"

Driver: Yes. They need to brick over the whole place and fill it with water."

Me, blinking: "You want to turn our capital city into… a massive pond?"

Driver: "It's a shithole. Why would you live there?"

Me: "The culture? The people? All the, um, STUFF?"

Driver: "Pffffft"

Me: "To get away from people like you?"


Me: "I don't think you've been to the right bits, mate."

Driver: "The whole place is a shithole."

Me, in a tiny voice: "You do know that the Queen lives there, right?"

Driver, tapping meter which reads £3.20: "In London, THAT would say twenty quid."

Me: "True. But I wouldn't be in a cab in London. I'd be on a night bus, chatting to a nice wino."

The exchange continued in this fashion until we reached the station, at which point Mr Awful Taxi Driver did not receive a tip.

The whole thing got me thinking. We all know I would never speak ill of Worthing (well I would and frequently do, but for the purposes of this article we'll pretend otherwise). It produced my father, housed my grandparents and bred me for a happy decade. It taught me what a 'twitten' is, and how to most effectively play 2p machines. It gave me a hefty two-year crush on Preston from The Ordinary Boys. It helped me appreciate beaches, both with and without sand, more than your average inlander.

But even for the sake of giving Mr Awful Taxi Driver the benefit of the doubt, it's pretty hard to pretend that the town has ever equalled London in terms of culture, interesting people, or nice things to do, eat, see, smell, wear, watch and be (it has better fish and chips, I'll give it that). In fact I've always privately thought that an Essex-style spin on my hometown would have to be called Worthing Is One Of Many Ways - Consider All Options First. It's a great place to grown up, because it inspires you to get out and go somewhere better. My friend the Awful Taxi Driver, it seems would disagree.

"So, you think Worthing isn't a shithole?" I innocently asked him. "It wasn't, but now there's too many of your London types here too," he snarled. "Really?" I said, looking around hopefully for someone with a Whole Foods bag and a Blackberry that I could run towards with my arms open, shrieking "Embrace me, kindred spirit!! Let's compare Oyster cards!".  Alas, none to be found.

My theory on the reason suburban people think they hate London, aside from the obvious excessive Mail/Express reading and general belief that every stranger's just a mugger you haven't met, is that they're thinking of the bits they go to as a tourist. King's Cross. Leicester Square. Oxford Street. Places that ooze with a sort of pungent pedestrian soup. But here's the secret that my angry friend might want to know - nobody LIVES in those places. And when we venture into them, Londoners hate them more than you do. It's the equivalent of someone coming to Worthing, spending an hour at Teville Gate, then going back and telling all their friends it's a shithole.

And you wouldn't like that, now would you?


  1. You are right! I'm 14, go to Davisons and the only thing I thank Worthing for is the ability to appreciate how nice other places are...

  2. Lets be honest. Worthing is a shit hole, growing up there from the age of 12 (Now 23) it taught me a fair few things like. How to live with no hope. If your not a 90 year old who has never left the town, your a little shit that calls me blud afterwarching kidulthood on bbc3 ( Good film dont get me wrong. But thats understanding film). After years of that depressing hopeless town. I finally got out. I chose newcastle knowing it was 350 miles or so away from it. The taxi driver you meantion.... Just another unfriendly prick.. "oh ill sit and wait at worthing crossing "... Yeah theres a bridge up the road.. Tosser.... Deep down i know from this blog you wanted to say more about this waste town.. But its where you grew up, as did i. So im greatfull over the years what worthing has taught me..... Never become this.. Get out... And deny you ever were here... When people up nortg ask me where im from at least i can say brighton

  3. I honestly cannot think of anything positive to say about this awful town. People shout and get drunk and puke in the streets. There are fights in broad daylight in Montague Street - and after the town more or less closes up after 5:30pm and everyone disappears, the crime rate is high. The dead end and one way systems are never ending. There's next to no night life in this town, and the only clubs I've been to there have resulted in fights every single time. It has been badly affected by the recession too, I counted more than 12 shops in one street that closed and it was on the brink of turning it into a ghost town. The only place that has been here all my life and has never closed is the McDonald's "Restaurant", which should tell you something in a town overgrown with Chavs. It's true Worthing makes you appreciate how wonderful everywhere else is - and yes if people in London ask where I'm from I say Brighton! Rant over!!