helga von porno

Tales of my fortunes in London involving philosophy time travel heroin addicted granny, prophesy, prostitution, murder, global conspiracy, friends, and personal finances. I am from east germany and fled to england when my parents where murdered and have been living here unofficially since.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

A brief history of the Chav

One thing I like about the English is they don’t have a disparaging contemptuous word for the poor and the working class. Scottish have “Scheemy” Irish have “Tinker” Americans have hundred of words, many racist, “Mexican” “Nigger” “White trash” (the implication of this last is that if you are not white, then you are trash by definition). The English on the other hand have always had a great admiration for the working class and a great compassion for the poor. But sadly this has recently changed. The middle classes and the media have a new word “chav”. Middle class English excitedly explain to American aquaintances that chav means white trash, and that, as well burgers and blockbuster movies, the English have adopted the American contempt for the poor.
So to mourn the passing of this great English trait, I am writing a history of the Chav.

12th Century
Under the tyrannous reign of King John, many Chavs unable to earn an honest wage because of excessive taxes took to banditry in the woods. The most famous of these was Robin Chav, whose slogan was “Rob from the rich and give to the poor”.
16th Century Elisabeth 1st commissioned ship loads of Chavs to rob the Spanish. She knighted Francis Chav, one of the better captains. A Chav playwright William Shakespeare wrote the best plays ever written.
17 Century
Perhaps the century of the Chav. For a brief period England had a Chav ruler, Oliver Cromwell and his model army of Chavs. For the first time in history, the world got a taste of Chav soldiery. It was around this time that many Chavs learned to read.
18 Century.
A chav named Nelson worked his way up the ranks in the British Navy and dominated the seven seas making Britain the greatest sea power in the world.
19 Century
The Tolpuddle Chavs were deported for forming a trade union. London welcomes Karl Marx, the middleclass German Chav spokesman. The English Chavs think him too extreme. Chav children are sent down mines to work for 14 hours a day for a pittance. Chavs exert political influence on parliament to ban child labour. Slavery is banned from the British Empire.
20 Century.
Chavs are sent to war against the Germans and die in millions for the bosses. When they return victorious, the bosses cut their pay and make many redundant. They try and organise a general strike, and Winston Churchill, arch enemy of chavs, arms the police to quell them. Chavs finally are allowed to vote.
The next generation of Chavs are sent to war again. Winston Churchill allows chavs to get bombed in Coventry and London and Liverpool for tactical advantage. In return, Churchill bombs German Chavettes and baby chavs. A gay chav genius invents the computer, but is driven to suicide by homophobic harassment from the middle classes.
Wave of immigration of black people. Chavs welcome black people, sharing their music and working side by side. Middle classes keep black people out of their jobs and residential areas. Chavs in port towns like Liverpool and London embrace rock’n’roll and adopt west Indian and American music influences.
Chavs invent their own music with black influences. The chav band “the beatles” write the best pop music in the world. Chavs try and over throw old middleclass world order and create a freer more tolerant society. Chavistic principles include peace, love and freedom.
Chavs become negative, chavs are by now well educated since they have been granted free education. Chavs begin to experiment with drugs. The chav band “the sex pistols” are more aggressively assertive about chav rights than ever before.
Chavs discover ecstacy and Chicago dance music. Also heroine becomes epidemic as many chavs live in substandard housing.
Chavs lose right to free education. Chavs take to streets in mass demonstrations over the chav tax, and over cars and global capitalism. Chavs try and influence markets by selective shopping. New laws prohibit chavs from assembling.
21st century.
Demonstrations increase and become global. Looks like chavs might finally rule the world. Then twin towers are hit by aeroplanes and everything changes. The bosses fight back with new police powers. In Britain chavs can be arrested without charge, or for “anti social behaviour”. Chavs are denied access to further education. The term Chav is coined and the press constantly use it as a disparaging term.


  • At 10:19 AM, Blogger Sam, Problem-Child-Bride said…

    Being an expat I didn't even know what a chav was until last year. It was explained to me by working class people though, who identified chavs as something other than themselves (none of them have any problem being working class) . They said it was to do with being screechy, a Sun or Daily Mail reader and dressing in a particular way: scraped back pony-tails for the girls, puffy jackets and large earrings and alarming make-up; baggy designer stuff for the boys with every second label being Burberry.

    One of the gals explaining it to me said it was an even tackier form of nouveau riche: nouveau peesh, she said. But I got the impression it was only really the under 30's it applied to and there was a certain amount of pride and aggression involved in being a chav. Sounds like it's been broadened since then to mean all working-classes.

  • At 11:34 AM, Blogger Helga von porno said…

    That's what everyone says. that's why its such a dangerous word. To the middleclasses all poor people are chavs, to the poor, its other poor people that are chavs.
    I bet there are poor white americans who don't think of themselves as white trash.

  • At 1:34 PM, Blogger Annie said…

    Yes, now it's no longer acceptable to be racist, it's interesting how we (English) can still get away with being class-ist...

    this story

    reminded me of you for some reason. Was it one of your scientific parties?

  • At 1:44 PM, Blogger Sam, Problem-Child-Bride said…

    I see what you mean.

    When you're talking about poor white trash though, you have a certain image in your mind of the type of person who weighs 300lbs, is wearing a severely strained and mysteriously stained dirty white T-shirt, has a Budweiser in each hand and a Twinkie in every available orifice. Not the sort of poor white person who goes to church every week and irons her threadbare doilies or hovers over WWII war memorabilia in his ill-lit basement. As a freshly minted, gleaming, still-got-the-wrapper-on middle-class American I can distinguish quite easily between so-called white-trash and white-poor.

    Having said that white trash is a term from "classless" America where the working classes are either referred to as "folks" or "blue collar workers". These same blue collar workers firmly maintain that they are middle class as does everybody of every educational and income level right up to Bill Gates. Everyone is middle class, making the term moot. You're right, then - we make these words up in order to set ourselves above our fellow men.

    One would have thought in Britain we had enough social strata to preclude the need for such nasty terminology, but Britain is fast becoming one huge middle-class too so maybe that's it.

    It seems to be the human way, to set up social hierarchies. It seems to be a primitive impulse that's overdue some civilisation. It's hard to escape the irony in this, that for the British, in the Empire days and decades following, the strict class system was seen as one of the identifying marks of a fully evolved and civilized race (ie us!).

    My problem is that I'm from the Hebrides of Scotland , some 60 miles from the mainland and so didn't really feel a strong class system. Island society wasn't nearly as influenced as the mainland class-system - we just had town people and country people, but everyone in town's granny was a country people so that was OK. We just wished they knew who The Smiths were and didn't want to call then The MacGobhas (Gaelic for Smith).

  • At 2:12 PM, Anonymous Batman said…

    Sam, I actually agree with you - that's my reading of the term 'chav'. However, I think Helga is making an interesting and worthy political statement about the dangers of labelling and snobbery in general. And in this case, I don't think the fact that some people positively embrace the term and identify with it diminishes the power it gives other people to negatively discriminate against them. Those people who snigger at your average chav on the Clapham Omnibus (I have to sheepishly put my hand up as chief sniggerer here) are doubtlessly reluctant to credit them with any sense of irony. Because they are stupid, right?

    I also think that the relatively recent revolution in peoples perceptions of working class folk is worthy of note in this context. Particularly given your own attempt to quickly distance the chav from their working class cousins. I'd hazzard that it's almost cool to have working class roots these days, but only once you've safely progressed to middle classdom, generally via university (or politics). Once you've done that, its a real party trick to be able to say that you were brought up on a diet of coal and that you're father died in a freak welding accident down t'factory; followed hastily by a 'but look at us now! Swigging champagne and talking posh - how far we've come!! What-what?' Indeed, some people wear their working class backgrounds as a badge of honour - look at John Prescot and Will Self.

    But it's only cool because there is a new underdog - our dear old chav. It seems almost inconceivable that, one day, this year's 'chav' will be sitting in the pub with their professional friends reminicing about their 'chav upbrining' and fondly remembering how their parents suffered a chav lifestyle to give them a chance at a better life. That's because, however much people identify with the term, its heavily stigmitised and people look down their noses, just as the gentry looked down their noses at the working class folks of yesteryear, subjecting them to serfdom, raping their daughters, taking away any freedom of choice...

  • At 2:42 PM, Blogger Zen Wizard said…

    Thank you for this romp through the history of Britannia.

    Julius Caesar himself could not have done a better job--though he may have used slightly less broad "brush strokes."

  • At 9:49 PM, Blogger Ari said…

    A brilliant survey of how the world has always moved on the backs of chavs.

  • At 1:58 AM, Blogger Ultra Toast Mosha God said…

    I am a white, middle-class nobody, so my opinion will be rooted in semi-wealthy guilt at the horrors I read about in 'The Independent.'

    I will counteract poverty by listening to Chris Martin's advice about free trade.

    I want my own nickname, like a Chav.

    Maybe I have one and I am unaware of it...

  • At 10:44 AM, Blogger Conan Drumm said…

    Hi H, by way of an update from across the water 'tinker' is hardly ever used now... the contemoporary and equivalently abusive term is 'knacker'

  • At 2:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I think white trash is more about sleeping with your sister than being poor. It's a big country out here and the problem is a lot of people can get up to a lot of creepy stuff with no supervision. I like your chav history, though. The chav future, of course, will be to be replaced by robots even as soldiers, and simply be completely left out of society.

  • At 8:57 AM, Blogger jerry said…

    An extremely good read. Good stuff, cheers!

  • At 2:24 PM, Blogger treespotter said…

    bravo. now i understand!

  • At 6:55 PM, Anonymous emma said…

    Yeah, like fellow ex-pat Sam I've never heard of the Chav. Don't agree that English have never looked down on working classes though. When I was a nipper, everyone would say, "Well, she's okay, but she is a bit of a prole." Although I guess that isn't as offensive as Chav?

  • At 2:51 PM, Blogger Helga von porno said…

    Annie, yes, a very sad affair, though some say he was pushed by Otto after a fight broke over a gilded swan.

    Sam, All I can say is a South African friend once said: "It's not that they are black, its just that's how I recognise them" I'm sure your rural idyll is how you remember it, but in my experience scottish are the snobbiest Britains. Why else do they hate the English so for replacing the old aristocracy with representative democracy? Schemey is a derogatory Scottish word for folk bought up in housing schemes that long pre dates "Chav".

    Batman: Yup! Now, have you ironed my shirts?

    Zen, thanks very much, but I suspect some veiled irony? Did JC write a history of britain?

    Ari, thanks, you make me feel understood.

    Ultra: You fool: They want you to think you are middle class, but you are just a chav in denial. Your most valuable capital will always be you're ability to go to work. Malcolm X would call you a "House Slave", close to the bosses, but a slave none the less. Chav's are educated now. Take up the Chav Badge and wear it with pride.

    Conan: Thanks, I was pressed for time and couldn't conjure up the contemporary word. Old Irish poufs from Hampstead still use Tinker, but I've heard knacker too by the younger ones.

    Good point Undy. What I wonder is if that would be good or bad?

    Jerry. Why thanks.

    Tree spotter: See above. Glad to have enlightened you, though I am but a blind limbless swimmer in the sea of confusion

    Emma. But what I love about the English is that though "Prole" might be insulting, "middle class" is always worse. The English would rather die than appear snobby or unfair.

  • At 10:31 PM, Anonymous Sherrif of Wrongtown said…

    Ahh England
    Cultural Zenith of the Commnwealth.

    I wich we had Chavs here in Orstalya. At least we have bogans.

    And some of them even have blogsites.

  • At 2:23 AM, Blogger Latigo Flint said…

    If I had my way there would only be two classifications of people in this world: Those that have never kicked a puppy and those that have.

    And then I'd stand in sunshine and shake a furious fist at any puppy kicker that happened to cross my path.

    "I'm better than you puppy kicker." I'd snarl. "I have a soul."

    (Wonderful essay Helga Von Porno. I'd love you even if you were a gypsy.)

  • At 3:02 AM, Blogger Ultra Toast Mosha God said…

    I will, Ma'am.

    I mean: Safe, innit.

  • At 10:27 AM, Blogger treespotter said…

    you must have very good life vest

  • At 1:07 PM, Blogger Sam, Problem-Child-Bride said…

    I didn't mean that the English have never looked down their noses at the working classes, Emma, I just took it for granted we all assumed they did. But it was a garbled post with, at best, only a floating point, so I guess it might read that way. My bad.

    Helga, you're right about the Scots - we also made the most brutal of the imperialists back in the day. I love Scotland with all my heart but I'm not an apologist for it. I love my island too but it is far from idylic.

    I'm the product of an upper middle + a Glasgow slum "schemie" marriage. I was aware of this growing up and some people in town let me feel it, but I've always thought it would have been worse to live on the mainland. My point was that there are pockets of Britain where the traditional social breakdown into all the various classes doesn't hold true. Islands are such places. I'm sure there are others. i guess I just wanted to point out that although all chavs are (apparantly) working class, all working class people are not chavs. I thought chav referred to some particular characteristics. British middle class friends of mine hold the same view.

    My grandpa was a working-class man who worked his way up (mainly through the pinting business and advances in army ranking) to be middle class, married a minor aristocrat, got into Debretts, Who's Who etc. and died upper-middle. At his funeral, in one pew, a representative of the queen was seated next to several of "The Dawn Chorus" - the drunken drooths of the town who used to go for walks round the harbour with my grandpa every morning. I just don't think the church elders would have seated them thus on the mainland.

  • At 1:24 PM, Blogger Helga von porno said…

    Hello, Sherrif of Wrong Town, I think someone once told me of Bogans, is that Oz for Chav then?

    Latigo O O O Oh no, noooo! I have indeed kicked a Puppy, and it was no accident. I was jealous. So now it looks like we are poles apart, and our love affair will have to end in suicide like R and J

    Welcome to class consciousness Comrade UltraChav.

    I've got a good life, treespotter, so I need a good life vest.

    Thanks, Sam, a lovely description. I hope I didn't offend you

  • At 4:23 PM, Blogger Zen Wizard said…

    Caesar wrote the history of Britain.

    I mean, I am impressed; out in the field all day and all.

    Of course, you, too, also have your--ahem--"profession"; though it doesn't involve organizing the centurions in a flying wedge so much as faking orgasms. But I would hate to have to write a history paper after one of your "long and hard" days, so kudos!

    Well, let me revise that--Caesar wrote all the history he could about a bunch of spear chuckers in kilts who had an oral tradition and couldn't write their own name; and the Druids, who were a secret society that hated him and the feeling was no doubt mutual.

  • At 4:28 AM, Blogger Ultra Toast Mosha God said…

    Marx would have loved the chav movement.


    Is that a movement? Or is it the equivalent of racism, which is a twisted kind of movement in itself?

    Yeesh. I don't know...

  • At 3:23 PM, Blogger Herman Harndsworth said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  • At 3:28 PM, Blogger Gianluca Di Milano said…

    Is chav the same like a Kant? I'm hear often this word in the england.

  • At 9:21 AM, Blogger Memphis Steve said…

    "“White trash” (the implication of this last is that if you are not white, then you are trash by definition)"

    That's incorrect, as if your reason for blogging is to invite white trash from America to come and correct you.

    White trash is a lazy, low-class white person who makes no effort to be anything more and is a pain in the ass to everyone else. It has nothing to do with being racist. You can be white trash and not give a crap about the other races one way or the other. It's like Onslo on "Keeping Up Appearances" with his broken down car in the yard and the dog living in it.

    And thanks for letting me know what 'chav' means. Now when the UK girls call me that I'll understand it better.

  • At 9:38 AM, Blogger Helga von porno said…

    Why thankyou Zen, I'll have to look it up.

    Ultra, makes me laugh. Imagining the Marx brothers getting turned down from a job interview and Groucho accussing the boss of being "Marxist"

    No Gianuluco, you are the same like a kant, and it is spelt CUNT by the way.

    Thanks Mr Steeve, this is the same as what the British have been saying about "Chav". What I meant was, by putting "white" in front of "trash" you are making the implicit assumption that people would assume that the trash was black if you left it out. In the same way I would say "I met a white african the other day", but I wouldn't say "I met a white german the other day" Also I would say "I met a black lawyer the other day" but I wouldn't say "I met a white accountant the other day". So if you are discribing someone low class and lazy using the word "Trash" if you feel the need to put "white" in first, it implies that otherwise people would expect the person you were talking about to be black. I'm not saying that white trash are racist.

  • At 2:28 AM, Blogger Ultra Toast Mosha God said…

    Heh heh!

  • At 10:58 PM, Blogger Sam, Problem-Child-Bride said…

    Course you didn't offend, Helga, you big/wee daftie. I just felt I'd misrepresented my point and wanted to have another stab at being clearer, that's all.

  • At 7:32 AM, Blogger razboynik said…

    Everybody is a 'Chav' to somebody.
    Even Bill Gates !

  • At 1:23 PM, Blogger Trevor Record said…

    I thought that the chavs were the british equivalent to american "wiggers".

    Pretty much everyone I know is semi-poor, I think I am their "successful friend". Meaning I don't have to live with my parents and can some times take vacations. I guess we are young, so maybe that will change.

  • At 9:12 AM, Blogger Jingo said…

    the beatles? chavs? How could you?

    Btw, Liverpool probably has the highest percentage of chavs.

  • At 1:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Dear Helga,

    Obviously to you chavs and the rest of the working class population are synonymous. Clearly it isn't. Chav is a problem to society, working class people are not.

    Chavs live off government benefits, the rest of the working class earn their bread to pay government taxes.

    Chavs are anti social while the working class in general are law-abiding citizens.

    Please do your research.


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