Let's move to a town as shite as the cake named after it! This week: Banbury

What’s it about?

Head north from the dreaming spires of Oxford and you’ll run into Oxford’s sour-faced working-class cousin: Banbury.

Not quite the Midlands, not quite the South, Banbury is like a shit northern town that missed the train home from a non-league game and decided to stay. As such, the people tend to be a bit friendlier but also more likely to glass you.

Nationally, Banbury’s known for two things: a poem about a cock horse, whatever the fuck that is, and having a cake named after it. Though Banbury cake is less a cake, and more a currant-stuffed pastry that tastes like your nan’s arse. Does anyone like it? Or it is a prank the locals have been playing for centuries?

Banbury’s most prized feature is junction 11 of the M40, because most residents are there purely because of its proximity to other towns and cities that still have hope. Its population decreases by about 95 per cent at 8am every weekday, leaving behind only children, the retired and the truly miserable.

Any good points?

For all its flaws, Banbury’s not a bad town for a night out if you enjoy doing cocaine and being stabbed. Wander along Parson’s Street or Southam Road for a nice variety of pubs to can spend your final earthly moments in. Make it out alive? Rectify that at a kebab shop.

Banbury’s also home of the largest coffee processing plant in the world, run by Douwe Egberts. This should fill it with the rich and delicious aroma of roasted coffee beans. In reality the fumes smell like burnt hair and horse shit, and can permeate anything from double-glazing to stone walls.

There’s also a vast Amazon warehouse, providing a great source of employment for locals who love standing up for 12 hours straight and hate going to the toilet.

Notable residents? Gary Glitter was born here, a fact rarely brought up at civic events. And Gordon Ramsay spent his formative years in Banbury, which explains why he’s been angry ever since.

Wonderful landscapes?

Estate agents may describe it as being ‘on the edge of the Cotswolds’, but it’s fair to say that Banbury isn’t much of a looker. Walk a mile away from the town in any direction and you’ll probably come across some pretty attractive scenery, but the town itself is like someone took a big concrete dump on Mother Nature’s chest.

Hang out at….

Banbury’s town centre has all the shit: Turkish barbers, vape shops and Greggs. But the real joy is the street entertainment. You’re never too far from a blazing argument or a full-blown fist fight. Women fighting over men, men fighting over parking spaces, children fighting over steak bakes; the possibilities as a spectator are endless.

If generic, soulless shopping centres are your thing visit Castle Quay and guess which will be the next chain to close down and leave forever. Lock29 is Banbury’s lazy attempt at gentrification where you can order smash burgers and souvlakis and pretend you’re somewhere better.

Or pop into the massive Tesco Extra where the locals shop in pyjamas and dressing gowns, giving it a decadent atmosphere like an upmarket spa.

Where to buy?

If you want the proper Banbury experience move to Bretch Hill or Grimsbury. Prices are reasonable, due to the risk of being murdered, and your neighbours will always be there when you need them because their court-ordered ankle bracelets prevent them leaving.

Alternatively, you could help further erode what’s left of the town’s character by moving into one of the new estates like Hanwell View to leech off the town’s resources without ever putting anything of value back into the community.

From the streets:

Joe Turner, aged 38, said: “I’ve lived here for nearly ten years now but I’ve still never been to Banbury. I’m on a train to London by 6am and don’t get back till late so, thankfully, I haven’t really had the chance to look around.”

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Tangfastic, Star Mix, Gold Bears: Haribo ranked from worst to best, by Ed Sheeran

ALL top stars have their vices. For Mick Jagger it was pussy, for Keith Richards heroin, and for me it’s Haribo. Can’t get enough. No self-control. I’m ranking my top five: 

FIVE: Tangfastics

Controversial, but I’m putting them fifth. Please don’t gun me down in the street like they did John Lennon. They’re too sour, they give me acid reflux, and you try keeping Munich’s Olympiahalle rocking with middle-of-the-road pop when your throat’s burning like shit and every burp’s fire. Vomited up my stomach lining and got rushed to hospital. And you get too many cherries.


There’s rock ‘n’ roll, and there are real risks like spearmint Wrigley’s Extra. I nearly choked on one at the Pasadena Rose Bowl. The fans thought I was doing some beatboxing shit on the loop pedal, but my windpipe was obstructed. Anne-Marie had to perform the Heimlich manoeuvre. Maoam? Chewable candy without the risks.

THREE: Giant Strawbs

As the world’s only strawberry blonde superstar – Nicole Kidman does telly these days – the pressure’s on to represent anything strawberry-themed. I demand 500 packets of Giant Strawbs on my rider, and if they query that I up it to 1,000 packets. At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome I opened my dressing room door and they fell out in an avalanche, burying me for 22 minutes and I almost suffocated. Still, worth it.

TWO: Gold Bears

An absolute classic. So good in the Star Mix that they got their own solo outing, like Robbie after Take That or Harry Styles now. I gave packets of these out as wedding favours. Unfortunately they’re highly flammable, friends had laid out a carpet of them as a joke, a stray spark ignited them and flames raced toward me. I escaped with only severe burns to my feet which I blamed on a volcano.

ONE: Star Mix

If number one wasn’t predictable and kind of boring, it wouldn’t be an Ed chart. I gobble these things by the big, fat fistful. The Beatles recorded on LSD but my tracks get laid down when I’m binging on cola bottles, heart throbs, fried eggs and gummy rings. One time I ate so many I overloaded my system with sugar and had to be defibrillated right there in the studio. The doctor banned me from eating them. I ignored him.