‘Following its selection as a UNESCO-recognised Area of Outstanding Natural Disappointment, Buckinghamshire’s county council decreed that the county should renounce its independence and instead rent itself out as a film set.’
Home to Pinewood Studios and the backdrop for many successful films, Buckinghamshire’s triumphs in the movie business – combined with its total lack of triumphs in all other fields of human endeavour – was enough to convince the county burghers that fully embracing this unexpected strength was the only option remaining to it.
Since they made the switch, residents of Buckinghamshire have found gainful employment as extras in films, with casting calls for frustrated suburban families, corporate training films and zombies proving particularly successful. However, with almost the entire county still doing their day jobs in London, commuting to London, or having just one last pint to avoid leaving London, surprisingly few people have noticed that their house is now full of SWAT teams and aliens between the hours of 10 and 5.
Marrying normal life with a working film set has not been entirely without setbacks. Some residents yearn for a return to the days where Grandma couldn’t demand a sequel to the disappointing family comedy ‘Taking Grandma to Pizza Express’. Many also feel uncomfortable about the quality of their sex lives being dismissed as ‘stilted and unconvincing – two stars’ by a selection of broadsheet critics.
1877 – A male guard of honour holding aloft an arch of chairs greets a bemused Queen Victoria as she visits High Wycombe, after a careless town official mishears a request to book a group of choirboys.
1918 – Wycombe celebrates the end of the first World War by upgrading many of its shanty towns to slums.
1951 – The UK headquarters of Tupperware is set up in Leighton Buzzard, finally releasing families from the inconvenience of having to eat food in the same year it was prepared in.
1964 – The Great Train Robbers are tried in Aylesbury and convicted of armed robbery, conspiracy to rob, and failure to possess a valid ticket for the full length of their journey. One of the gang’s members, ‘Buster’ Edwards, is told his crimes are so serious he is condemned to be played by Phil Collins in a film of his life.
1996 – The Roald Dahl Children’s Gallery is opened. The attraction includes a Giant Peach ride, a great glass elevator, and the chance for 3,000 lucky kids to win a golden ticket for an unpaid Oompa Loompa internship scheme on a cocoa plantation in Ghana.
2006 – King’s Wood is cordoned off for four months while being searched by police for evidence of terrorist activity. Many suspicious items are found, including explosive devices, large bags of fertiliser, and a well-thumbed copy of 101 Things to do Before You Die.
Did You Know?
A survey ranks parts of Buckinghamshire amongst the dirtiest in the whole country, with litter found in nearly 30% of all streets, and 100% of streets with somebody handing out leaflets about the county’s litter problem.
Chequers, the country residence of the Prime Minister, is located four miles from Aylesbury. Past residents have made their own modifications to the estate: Margaret Thatcher added an extra right wing, Cherie Blair attempted to sell it off using an Australian conman, while current incumbent David Cameron invites the Bullingdon Club round to smash the place up.
Bletchley Park was responsible for cracking the ‘unbreakable’ Enigma code during World War II. After the war ended, employees worked on peacetime projects, creating an unbreakable cipher for the drafting of mobile phone contracts.
High Wycombe weighs its mayor in public to see whether or not they have gained fat at the taxpayers’ expense. The Town Crier announces “And no more!” if the Mayor has not gained weight. If the Mayor has gained weight, he or she must fight a bear.
Milton Keynes was once just a few villages nestling in acres of unspoilt countryside. This description remains basically true today, once you’ve removed the prefix ‘un’.
Stoke Poges is closely associated with fictional spy James Bond, with his wife Tracy born in the town. Bond’s marital status often comes as a shock to anyone familiar with the series, including James himself, who in the course of over thirty films shagged more women than the total number living in Stoke Poges. Goldfinger’s golf club scenes were also filmed in the town, where Oddjob continues to work as a successful milliner.