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What is it about High Wycombe?
“Happiness,” said Anon, “Is High Wycombe in your rear-view mirror.” Anon, who said a lot of things, was quoted by a Mark Grant about fifteen years ago:
High Wycombe is famous for absolutely nothing, but used to be a large producer of furniture, or was it carpets, or something else? Well, whatever it was, all the factories were closed down long ago. Today, its main product is boredom.
He’s wrong, though. From The Spectator:
What an odd mix of distinguished residents High Wycombe has had! Fern Britton, Benjamin Disraeli, Dusty Springfield, Karl Popper, Jimmy Carr: it’s a list that reads like a game of Celebrity Consequences in freefall.
There is not much in common between those listed above. Yet a subsection of the list displays an almost obsessive interest in sexual and gastronomic experimentation. The goggle-eyed chef Heston Blumenthal, brought up in High Wycombe, has become famous for off-beat dishes such as Snail Porridge and Egg-and-Bacon Ice Cream. Ian Dury, who went to school there, is best-known for the song ‘Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick’, a jaunty, multi-lingual (‘je t’adore, iche liebe dich!’) hymn in praise of sado-masochism. That fine artist, Eric Gill, who set up his workshop in High Wycombe, is now notorious for secretly conducting an incestuous relationship with his sister and his daughter; he was also on intimate terms with his dog.
And there are the rioters at the Wycombe Islamic Mission Mosque. And more than one Jihadist.
So what is it about High Wycombe? It may be the fact that it is in Buckinghamshire. Buckinghamshire still has grammar schools and is generally quite an interesting county. Comedienne Jo Brand once mentioned Buckinghamshire not unfavourably:
"the underwear you want people to see is black and the size of an atom. The underwear you don't want people to see is grey, and the size of Buckinghamshire."
Rumour has it that a young lady from Buckingham once got together with a young fellow from Twickenham. In Limerick, I think it was. What happened next is anybody's guess.