‘A place where money is plentiful, the sun always shines and you can be sure of a nice clean bench to rest your feet, Hampshire is the place to go if you would prefer to return to a 1950s post-war after-glow.’
Unless you happen to be a prominent ex-Lib Dem MP, the nuclear family unit is still strong in Hampshire, with parents and their children happily gathering round the three-bar electric fire to play cards and board games until bedtime. Children gambol in the streets and climb trees, skinning their knees and ignoring the discreetly-tolerated paedophile hiding in the bushes. As a special treat on birthdays, children might be allowed to eat the family’s meat ration, or perhaps make a call to Grandma on the Bakelite phone. And on Daddy’s birthday, he may be permitted to adopt the missionary position with Mummy while keeping the lights on.
Full of impressionable but repressed teenagers wearing tracksuits that look like pyjamas, pyjamas that look like tracksuits, and £500 outfits that look like £50 outfits, the county is where the British ‘fashion for morons’ movement has truly come home to roost. With respectability and conformity the watchwords of the day, Jack Wills and his slurry band have slipped in to the county’s wardrobes as smoothly as a long drag of a Capstan’s Navy Cut cigarette.
Hampshire will find itself on the front line of the culture war when its own sixties revolution belated dawns, though reaching that line will ultimately require its disaffected youth to walk up a long driveway of crushed white gravel, past a clutch of tiny dogs.
- GENDER POLITICS – Women free to spend as much time cleaning as they like
- ECONOMY – GDP per capita of 746 florin, 45 shillings and one shiny new farthing
- ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES – Not yet discovered
- POPULAR SUFFIXES – Tastic, O-Matic, O-Rama
- ENTERTAINMENT – Saturday morning cinema, Nellie the Elephant, Bruce Forsyth in his early 50s
- SUBSTANCE ABUSE – An absolute devil for a second lovely cup of tea
- SEX – No thanks, we’re British
1338 – A French fleet raids Portsmouth and destroys much of the town, leaving only the local church and hospital surviving. Grateful that these two crucial amenities have survived, the city’s residents set about praying to God for his benevolence, and in so doing fail to spot a second French fleet arriving from the other direction.
1348 – The Black Death arrives in England at Southampton Docks, before quickly going on to become one of the country’s most fashionable imports.
1806 – The great engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel is born in Portsmouth. He is delivered of his mother driving a small steam-powered car.
1881 – Basingstoke citizens and publicans take issue with the evangelical tactics of the temperance-supporting Salvation Army presence, saying that God is “their best fucking mate, he is,” before inviting the Salvation Army outside.
1912 – Doomed passenger liner HMS Titanic sets out on her maiden voyage to New York City from Southampton Docks on 10th April. Although it was the largest steamship in the world at the time, the story of Titanic is hardly spoken of today.
1944 – Thousands of Allied troops flock to Southsea beach and Portsmouth Harbour for the D-Day Normandy landings, mistakenly believing they are being cast for roles in Saving Private Ryan.
Did You Know?
In Hampshire, posh hair is compulsory.
Southampton’s big employers include the Ordnance Survey, the UK’s national mapping agency, whose headquarters is based in the city on page 97, box E5.
Portsmouth is home to the Genesis Expo, the country’s only creationist museum. The museum contains informative dioramas on ‘The impossibility of life forming from chemicals’, ‘How the study of genetics shows that all humanity came from one man and one woman’ and ‘Sex with dinosaurs – why the hells not?’
The Winchester Hat Fair is the UK’s longest running festival of street theatre. Held during the first weekend in July, the event aims to continually raise the standard of UK street theatre, celebrating a variety of performance artists before handing round a hat in which audience members place foreign coins and litter.