Let's move to a commuter town marginally better than Slough! This week: High Wycombe

What’s it about?

Want to work in London but can’t afford the financial or psychological damage of living there? High Wycombe makes a perfectly shite alternative.

Known to locals simply as Wycombe, because the high bit can be taken as read, this once historic market town is a desolate concrete wasteland haunted by hooded figures far more vengeful than the unquiet dead.

Spend an hour mooching around the charity shops, vape shops, betting shops, pawnbrokers and money-laundering fronts and you’ll never complain about London rents again. Compared to this, they’re worth it.

Any good points?

It’s the ideal place to raise children if you want them to have boring childhoods and bland personalities. Neither posh enough to be Windsor nor shite enough to be Slough, it’s a location that’s vaguely existed for hundreds of years without developing any character.

Back when every town had its specialist industry Wycombe made chairs, a fact you can celebrate with a visit to the Chair Museum. Free entry and it’ll leave you marvelling at the importance of sitting on your arse.

You’ll have the chance to view up to twenty different chairs, which all look quite similar, and children can try building their own chair before dismantling it again for the next unfortunate visitor.

The whole museum takes around five minutes to explore, and can be enjoyed again and again and again, as there’s fuck all else to do.

Wonderful landscape?

The one perk of Wycombe is it’s surrounded by some genuinely nice looking fields. It even boasts a couple of National Trust properties.

Hughenden Manor was the home of former prime minister Benjamin Disraeli, one of those rare Tories with good points, and the Hellfire Caves where a slightly less shameful party hung out: sex-loving Satanists. The latter understandably attracts far more visitors and has a delightful tearoom.

Just through the depressing pebbledash streets of Sands you’ll reach Adams Park, home to Wycombe Wanderers, so named because they wander around the pitch pretending to have injuries and never score any goals.

Known to fans as ‘The Chairboys’, despite having the logo of a swan, their fans are as confused as their marketing team but are to a man masochists who derive endless pleasure from their League One humiliation.

The club did make it to Wembley once, but it was during the pandemic when nobody could watch and they lost anyway. They make locals very proud.

Hang out at…

If you’re feeling adventurous, journey into the past by exploring the dilapidated shopping centres that have died slow and painful deaths.

The Eden Centre: once a hub where middle-aged women rushing to House of Fraser and Dorothy Perkins, now an empty labyrinth peopled only by an overzealous Christian with a clipboard.

The Chiltern Centre: where you can have your eyebrows threaded by a woman in a burqa, outside Wycombe’s historic Wimpy. Although the Wimpy has been shuttered for thirty years, the Chiltern Centre still has two shops: a massive fuck-off Primark, and Wilko. So just the one shop.

Nightlife? Because you have to get very, very drunk to enjoy High Wycombe?

Locals frequent The Snug, a pub as cosy, atmospheric and welcoming as embracing Jeremy Paxman inside a bell jar.

For clubbing, stroll past the homeless quarter to find Life On Mars. Much like the planet Mars, Wycombe’s flagship nightspot has no known signs of life, having been closed for the past decade. Luckily, visitors can still enjoy all the classic elements of a night out by getting sworn at and punched in the face by the loitering thugs outside.

Where to buy?

For a guaranteed break-in or mugging, Desborough Road is affordable for the first-time renter. Alternatively, Amersham Hill is close to the train station if you’re ready for a fucking mountainous hike every morning.

If you want to pretend you don’t really live in Wycombe, the outskirts are the place to buy. Holmer Green was the childhood home of James Corden, though he wasn’t actually born here. Instead the concrete monolith of Wycombe Hospital only has its associations with Jimmy Savile to besmirch it.

From the streets: 

Joe Turner, aged 38, said: “I know I live here but where is it exactly? Somewhere in the South?”

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This week in Mash history: Sir Walter Raleigh discovers these tubers that fry up a treat, 1588

BRITAIN would be nothing without the potato. Vegan, gluten-free and delicious, spuds are the crispy-yet-fluffy-on-the-inside bricks modern civilisation is built on. 

But less than half a century ago, our land was a stranger to this starchy gold. Stories about its arrival are shrouded in myth and rumour, with many claiming that such a blessing could only have been given by God alone.

Historians believe, however, that Sir Walter Raleigh who was the first European to discover that potatoes were bloody delicious. A ship’s log discovered at auction, which it was hoped contained details of his voyages, instead numbered hundreds of pages reflecting on the potato and only the potato.

Extracts read: “The journey to the Americas has not been a happy one. I am of delicate constutution and unsuited to a diet of dried meat and limes. The local spices do not placate me. My soul craves delicious blandness.

“One could only imagine my delight when, in my hour of need, I stumbled across the potato. I mistook it at first for a turnip or swede, the foodstuff of peasants. Little did I know I had been gifted savourless manna from heaven.

“I have postponed our return to Albion until I have assessed the extent of the potato. So far it has been prepared roasted, in a manner so holy I propose from here on they only be consumed on Sundays, to honour the Lord.

“I have a list of experiments: baking, frying, slicing thinly then cooking in a white sauce. Boiling I deduce to be the most dissatisfying form. Unless one were to, perhaps, mash a number together with a powerful Cheese.

“Each time we attempt a new method, the success is beyond imagining. Cutting into pieces resembling beams and frying replicates the ecstasy of Pentecost.

“We must return these pale miracles to the Queen at all costs. The bliss it should bring to the populi will surely cure all of society’s ills. Why would one ever seek malice when one possesses the joy of a hot, or even cold, potato?”

And so, Sir Walter began the tradition of English people being over-enthusiastic about and reliant upon potato products for their diet, and their reluctant to eat anything other than chips when abroad.

Next week: to 1931, when the Coca-Cola Company invents Christmas to boost slumping sales of its product after taking the cocaine out.