‘Such is the dependence of Hertfordshire on the capital for jobs and entertainment the region is left deserted during normal working hours, with family pets, postmen and opportunist thieves making up the entire daytime population.’
One of the quietest counties in England, Hertfordshire’s cocktail of sleepy countryside and comatose London feeder towns exert a powerful physical effect on its inhabitants. While this sensation an be relaxing to start with, it often leads to dependency, agrophobia and, in acute cases, opinion columns in popular middle-market newspapers.
Hertfordshire’s residents are generally content with their quiet suburban lives, and jealously guard their peace and privacy by employing 24-hour librarian call-out services to tut and cast disapproving glances towards the source of any noise made above whispering levels. Although the natural environment is much prized, commuter housing pressures have meant that the only remaining green belt in the county is a second-hand one available in the Watford branch of Oxfam, attractively priced at £1.99.
Home to some of Britain’s earliest experiments in large-scale town planning, the county continues to see further innovations to support its commuter workforce in the face of rising property prices. Train station lockers have become increasingly well-appointed, boasting access to 24 hour coffee and Monster Munch vending machines, while the people of Hatfield have clubbed together to buy one small flat in Barnet in case they miss the last connecting train home.
- FAVOURITE GAMES – Chinese whispers, Pin Dropping
- FARTS – Always silent
- POPULATION – Weekends: 1,047,800, Mon – Fri: 12
- TIME SPENT AT WORK – 8 hours / day
- TIME SPENT ON TRAIN GETTING TO WORK – 4 hours / day
- TIME SPENT IN DESPAIR – 24 hours / day
- HABITS – Always stands on platform precisely where third door will open
- HUMOUR – Based around making up unlikely excuses for incompetence of First Capital Connect
308 – St Alban, the first British Christian martyr, is beheaded at the request of Emperor Diocletian, after he had ordered the death of anyone refusing to give up their Christian faith or attend his excellent toga parties.
673 – The first Synod of England’s bishops is held in Hertford. The meeting sees significant decisions made, including the first calculation of the date of Easter. It is agreed the date should be “not too close to the Michaelmas Day, for the merchantes and guild-owners of the citie must hath enough of the Lord’s time by which they can floggeth off their old selection boxes at lowe lowe prices, afore the replenishment of their shelves with chocolate egges of poore qualitie.”
1205 – An early draft of the Magna Carta, transferring some important powers away from the monarch, is written by barons at St Albans abbey. This first effort is rejected by King John on account of the replacement of his name with the word ‘Suck’ throughout the document.
1871 – Knebworth House becomes home to Sir Edward Bulwer-Lytton, a novelist and spiritualist so deep in his belief of spiritual realities that he claimed to think himself invisible while others were around. This explanation was later rejected by the court at his trial for indecent exposure.
1903 – Letchworth becomes the world’s first garden city. This proves a major success until crazy paving comes into fashion.
1946 – In a crushing defeat for local activists, Stevenage is designated as the UK’s first New Town in spite of a referendum that indicates 52% of residents being ‘entirely against’ the town’s expansion, and 48% moving out at its very suggestion.
2005 – Buncefield Oil Depot sees one of the largest explosion ever in to take place in the UK after site workers forget that the words ‘flammable’ and ‘inflammable’ mean the same thing.
Did You Know?
Cradle of Filth front man Dani Filth was born in Hertford, a first son for Peter and Janet Filth. Dani is so goth it is rumoured that he actually craps live bats.
The annual St Alban’s beer festival, held every September, is the UK’s answer the Germany’s Oktoberfest celebrations. Although the event cannot lay claim to the same level of bonhomie as its Bavarian counterpart, it does at least guarantee that anybody caught wearing lederhosen will be arrested immediately.
American director Stanley Kubrick produced many of his films in Elstree studios, basing some of A Clockwork Orange’s ‘ultra-violence’ on accounts of St Albans’ Thursday evening Women’s Institute meetings.
Hemel Hempstead claims to have the first purpose built multi-storey car park in Britain. Built in 1960, the building shares many features with more modern car parks, including incomprehensible pricing tariffs and a small coating of car paint at door level found on every supporting concrete column.
The headquarters of supermarket giant Tesco are based in Cheshunt. It is reckoned that £1 in every £7 in the UK goes through a Tesco’s till, much of it via its Tesco Value tax avoidance service.