The Sign, April 2011. The leafy little English market town of Chesham in Buckinghamshire is not a very exciting place. In fact, one might say it has virtually nothing to entice the passing traveler. It does have a pretty park and a handful of decent pubs, while a claim to fame could be the local produce market, once voted Britain’s greenest. Oh, and if you’re really desperate, there’s always Chesham Museum. But while nobody could describe it as the pulsating heart of England, this inconsequential little town will always occupy a special place in my heart.
The Park, April 2011. My family first moved to Chesham in the early 1980s. We had a cosy little place in Woodland View and I went to Waterside Primary School for a bit. Some years later we moved to the nearby town of Amersham, but returned to Chesham in 1995 to setup camp in the peaceful Poleshill neighbourhood. It was just a ten-minute walk from Chesham Park Community College where I took my A-levels. My mates and I would often hang out in Lowndes Park, a popular football spot. Spanning 36 acres, it boasts a multi-sports court, a skateboard zone and a swan-inhabited pond. Back in my day the public toilets were a legendary no-go zone and for a while we boycotted the park completely after someone got stabbed.
The Brown Derby, June 2015. Back in the halcyon days of 95-96, my friends and I made Chesham our own. We got part time jobs at Sainsbury’s, bought our music at Track Records and drank milkshakes at the now deceased McDonald’s (rumour had it the lowest performing Maccie D’s in the UK). We gathered for beer-fuelled pub banter at The Last Post and forced ourselves into Stages, the world’s crappiest nightclub. When it came to late night dining there wasn’t a single eatery to rival the utterly fantastic Burger Inn on the High Street. Run by a friendly but no-nonsense Turkish family, I shudder to think of the amount of burgers, chips, fry-ups and kebabs we consumed there. But my favourite was, is and always will be their incomparable Brown Derby: a hot sugared doughnut topped with ice cream, chopped nuts and chocolate sauce. “Brown Derby?” mumbled the sweaty, obese man that always seemed to serve me. “Yes” I’d reply with a quiet conviction.
The Old homestead, April 2011. This modest house at 76 Poleshill, Chesham definitely makes my Top 3 homes of all-time. And believe me, I’ve racked up an incredible amount of habitats during my 39 years. This was the house where I first set eyes upon Inde, the original Thomas family dog. It was here that I had my first computer and where my mate Steve and I spent hours and hours playing Championship Manager. This was the joint that welcomed my brother Cory when he was born in March 96’ and it was here, a few months later, that all my mates piled into my bedroom to watch England’s 1-1 draw against Switzerland in the opening match of Euro 96.
The Reunion, June 2015. I rarely cheat when it comes to the location of my Top 5 articles. But I should probably come clean right away and tell you that strictly speaking, this last photo isn’t really Chesham. It’s a tiny nearby village called Hawridge that we drove out to for a rare reunion, the last time in fact that the five of us were all together in the same place. Some of us don’t speak so often anymore, but I can categorically say; safe in the camouflage of the written word, that these are four of my favourite people on Planet Earth.