Living in a one horse town: How Chippenham shaped my life

University is where people from all walks of life come together in the hope of a better life and education. Many come from small towns and villages across the UK and abroad to broaden their minds which are often narrowed when living in such contained environments. Coming from a ‘one horse town’ to a bigger environment can be daunting. The hustle and bustle of the big city can be petrifying. The people rushing around everywhere, humming and whirring of noise all around with the smell of diesel engines, high-end coffee shops and fast food filling the air as unaffiliated animals roam their busy stomping grounds and go about their daily lives. Anyone leaving a small town to somewhere bigger always find the task difficult but also thankful. Going from wanting to get away to some far away land where everything and anything is going on but then as soon as you get their you want come home. Anyone who is anyone gets homesick and looking back at home can often be a fun task. But sometimes home isn’t where the heart is, however home is home. We can’t change where we come from. Chippenham is where I come from.

Chippenham is a one horse town in which a scenic lifestyle is centred around. Vast fields; farms and greenery are cascaded as far as the eye can dare see. God’s wonderful countryside. Often filled with livestock and ramblers alike. The vast openness gives one a sense of perspective as the beauty of nature really is set upon the eyes of the beholder. A town surrounded by greens and browns of fields and the yellow masses of Rapeseed scattered throughout can actually depress some. Despite incredible amounts of beauty surrounding you, one cannot help feel a sense of loneliness. The big city is nowhere to be found as you are surrounded by countryside and empty fields. To come out of your house and hear nothing. No noise. The sound of birds singing or the echo of distant mooing is nice but the sheer emptiness of the world around you can often leave you feeling blue. The town does pride itself on the surrounding area’s natural beauty, rather than the towns itself. So proud in fact that the town turned down the chance to host a possible 1000 jobs in the form of a distribution centre due to the area’s nibysm. The conservative town’s refusal for such a change was a shocking one considering the majority of leave voters in the area wanted more jobs for the area.

The town is dominated by the elderly. The older ones are to be respected as they have lived their lives and served their nation proudly through some difficult periods. However, there is nothing in this town for the younger generation. The argument for a skate park (of which there is none), the parks are somewhat dull and unappealing and growing up in a town where there isn’t anything because there isn’t allowed to be anything is disgraceful. As one gets older the nights out aren’t much better. When you say you’re from Chippenham, a lot of people respond with “I used to go there, I used to go to Gold diggers.” Gold Diggers was one the best night clubs in the area. People would travel from all over to come and dance the night away. My parents met in this very venue and they both lived miles away in Sherston and Bidlip respectively. What was this famous club is now flats. One of Chippenham’s gleaming jewels is but a distant, drunken memory of the 20th century. Now further into the town is Elevens, which is about as enjoyable as a felt tip pen in the eye and a kick in up rear. Chippenham has nothing for the young.

Chippenham has nothing for anyone. The town itself is simply a commuter town. A mere stop on the journey of business persons far and wide as they make their weary ways to London, Bristol, Bath, Swindon and Reading. It is labelled a “historic market town,” which is essentially a kind method of expressing that many moons ago it was bustling and now it is not. The town is but a mere train journey to civilisation. 18th century architecture still litters a town crying out for some life before the gloom consumes all. The Guardian called Chippenham “a town that’s been bashed about by the modern world…Chained stored to extinction with culture in short supply.” An accurate depiction of a town that is the optimal of the “What’s best to do here? Leave?” Joke.

You know it’s bad when your town is remembered by visitors as being the home of a defunct nightclub in the latter half of the 20th century and for killing one of the biggest up and coming young musicians of the 1950s. Eddie Cochran, the American musician responsible for classics like Summertime Blues or C’mon Everybody, died in a road traffic collision in the town whilst touring the UK. Oh, how embarrassing that this is the only reason as to why my town is remembered.

Another thing that the town itself is remembered for is the odd individuals who inhabit it. The West Country is renowned for being filled with odd and wonderful persons who seem odd to the rest of the country but fit in right at home where they live. There are many, many, many of these in Chippenham. A man who waves at traffic singing Amarillo whilst jogging, a man who waves at people as he rides a horse through the town center, the couple that sit by the milk in Greggs and don’t like people using it and the homeless man who sings a tiny ditty on his guitar about ‘yellow socks.’ They might sound a tad odd but they honestly bring so much joy to the community and you don’t often get this in a big city, where everyone selfishly goes about their own lives and has little time for the goings on of others.

Secrecy is hard to come by here. You thought you’d move to the countryside to get away from the city and live a quieter, more peaceful life? Well guess again buster. Chippenham is life much of the West Country, everyone knows everyone’s business and everyone knows everyone. Walking to the train station or to the local shop to get the morning paper or walking the dog, every passing elderly man or single mother or fellow dog walker will always greet you ‘hello’ or ‘good morning.’ Everyone knows something about everyone round here, and if they don’t? They’ll make it their business to find something out. It can be quite frightening at times, what with a woman three streets over from yours knowing where you were on a Thursday afternoon and what you were doing there. But that’s the price you have to pay for living in a town like this.

However, you can be born in a teeny tiny town and amount to something more. You can be a proffesional footballer like Tyrone Mings of Premier League side Bournemouth or perhaps a singer like Gabrielle Aplin. You can even become the leader of the Labour Party. Jeremy Corbyn, the current leader of the Labour Party was born in the teeny tiny town of Chippenham. Although there isn’t much in terms of greatest here, here is where it starts before it grows into something more.

Ultimately, there are worst places to live. A Brazilian Favela, an Ethiopian slum, anywhere in Syria or Somalia or perhaps North Korea. Chippenham isn’t the worst place to grow up and live. You’ve a roof over your head, clean water, electricity, access to all the necessary things that human rights demand. Chippenham has shaped me to be the person that I am today. It might have its quirks and its failures to keep young people entertained and a conservative community hell-bent on refusing change. But Chippenham is my town and I will forever continue to live with the shadow of a one horse town leaning over me.

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