Let's move to a semi-rural shithole packed with Hackney hipsters! This week: Stroud

WHAT’S it about?

Once a quiet, semi-rural shithole, Stroud has lately been elevated to a shithole packed with quirky Londoners convinced they’re doing it a favour by moving there and adding a whole new strata of twat.

The town was recently ranked the best place to live in the UK by the Sunday Times, a dubious award from a journalist who presumably visited on Saturday when the farmers’ market is in full swing, rather than a Wednesday afternoon when the deserted town centre prompts suicidal ideation more than civic pride.

Any good points?

Not anymore. Stroud was a haven for gentle hippies who opened vegan cafes long before they became the preserve of hipster bellends. This mild alternative vibe has now morphed into full-on batshit quackery, so it’s now home to rabid antivaxxers who make Piers Corbyn look a harmless eccentric.

All of the good pubs have long since shut down, apart from The Prince Albert at the massive of a f**k off steep hill put there to punish you for fancying a pint. Otherwise it’s a car journey to a twee gastropub that has had all its character scorch-earthed out by some rich cunt interior designer, full of ex-cokeheads from Dalston trying to convince themselves they aren’t bored out of their arseholes.

Wonderful landscape?

Stroud lies at the meeting point of the Five Valleys, so it’s surrounded by undulating hills and hedgerow-hugged lanes. Which are now crammed with SUVs, but if you overtake the ethical hedge fund manager in a Land Rover driving Lupin and Meadow to prep school you’ll enjoy the views over the wood-fired hot tubs, yoga studios and yurts littering every back garden.

Laurie Lee, Stroud’s most famous resident, is turning in his grave. His beloved Slad Valley is now not so much Cider With Rosie as Biodynamic Wine With Pretentious Wankers.

Hang out at…

Stroud outdoor pool is the place to be in the summer, if you enjoy the rancid smell of Piz Buin and chip fat and like baking on a slab of shadeless concrete for 30 minutes before stopping your heart by jumping into ball-shrivellingly freezing water. There is an ancient by-law still in force stating any out-of-towner calling it a ‘lido’ can be legally punched in the face.

The farmers’ market is rightly renowned for charging the same for a complicated loaf of artisanal bread as half a week’s worth of shopping at Lidl. However, it’s so crowded with mothers toting handwoven baskets full of muddy vegetables and Lycra dads who brought the kids in £3k e-bike trailers that you’ll never survive the queue.

Where to buy?

If you’re coming from London anywhere you fucking like. Get two and rent the spare one out. If you’re from Stroud you’ve been screwed out of buying a house in the town you grew up in by an ex-Hackney twat who wanted to bring their kids up somewhere that looks wholesome and picturesque on Instagram.

Maybe you could rent the Hackney twat’s second home from them for twice the amount of their mortgage payments? Actually no, as they’ve decided to put it on Airbnb to supplement their already huge income by fucking over the local community. Never mind. Plenty of space in Merrywalks car park for you to lie down at night.

From the streets:

Oliver O’Connor, aged 34: “We adore Ruscombe, our little village on the outskirts of town. We moved from Peckham during lockdown and we love the change of pace that living in the countryside brings. You really have to slow down snorting your blow on a Friday night when you know you can’t just pop down to the street for another gram.”

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Mash Blind Date: 'I do not remember agreeing to be part of some fucked-up experiment to see if opposites attract'

DO opposites attract? We sent environmental activist Chartreuse the Eco-Clown on a date with right-wing Brexit and Boris voter Gilly to find out. 

Gilly on Chartreuse

First impression?

He was dressed as a clown. An orange suit with plastic vegetables on, a bright green wig, and a red nose. So my first impression was that he was dressed as a fucking clown.

How was conversation? 

Initially, and I think understandably, it centred around his outfit. Then he explained that he’s a children’s entertainer teaching the young about the environment. I explained that climate change is a hoax. It went as you’d expect from there.

Memorable moments?

When I told him I’d voted Brexit and his nose fell off into his vegetable soup. He’s a vegetarian but he claims it hasn’t left him unable to ejaculate, which contradicts what I’d heard.

Favourite thing about Chartreuse? 

He tried to explain himself, even though everything he believes in is bullshit and he was dressed as a clown. Sometimes he came close to sounding rational. Then I’d say ‘But tax is unfair, because it’s paying for other people to have stuff’ and he’d fall silent.

A capsule description? 

Make-up isn’t just skin deep. I really believe that even without the make-up I would have realised the man opposite was an absolute fucking clown.

Was there a spark? 

It would have been like kissing salad.

What happened afterwards? 

We discussed that every one of his liberal beliefs falls apart under a second’s pushback, that he really cannot consider himself worthy of respect as a human, and that he shouldn’t vote. Then we shook hands and parted ways.

What would you change about the evening? 

I would have liked to date a man.

Will you see each other again?  

There is zero chance of that happening even by coincidence.

Chartreuse on Gilly

First impression?

They told me to come in the Eco-Clown kit. It’s an act I do for schools. My real name’s Oliver and I don’t habitually wear a bright green afro wig. Anyway, my first impression was of her absolute horror. Which I fully understand. Because they made me come as a clown.

How was conversation? 

Anxious to get past the whole clown thing, I explained that Chartreuse the Eco-Clown is an act for primary school children about global warming, climate change and our unsustainable capitalist lifestyles. She informed me everything I’d said was total bollocks and had I heard of Piers Corbyn? So it went downhill from a point where I wouldn’t have imagined downhill was a possibility.

Memorable moments?

A procession of them. Every time I awkwardly changed the subject we hit another red flag. She voted Brexit, voted Boris, believes all vegans will die in five years of their diet ‘unless they’re cheating’, and believes that we should enter a war. I asked against who but she wasn’t fussy.

Favourite thing about Gilly? 

She was surprisingly progressive on trans issues. Until I explained that trans women are a different thing to drag queens, after which she was shockingly primitive on trans issues.

A capsule description? 

Attractive, in a male gaze sort of way. Cordial. Diametrically opposed to me in every possible way on beliefs and values.

Was there a spark? 

I do not remember agreeing to be part of some fucked-up experiment to see if opposites attract. No. There was not a spark.

What happened afterwards? 

I went back to my liberal echo chamber, as she accurately put it, and explained that I had met the enemy. They asked me if I converted her with rational argument. They could not believe that was not possible.

What would you change about the evening? 

Ideally I’d prefer to meet someone there was a possibility of agreement with, on one single issue. Also I wouldn’t be in my fucking clown suit.

Will you see each other again?  

I’ll see her in every Twitter troll I argue with, every Conservative victory, every blow to the marginalised people I ineffectively, as she told me, champion. But otherwise absolutely not.