Background: I gave this as a talk to my English class for GCSE. Since English speaking isn't marked on content, more on style, and since the content isn't taken in, I thought I may as well post it here. The idea is that I'm going to my hometown of Chesham, Buckinghamshire after seeing an advert for it in the paper. (For the purposes of the assignment, we had to make posters.) Personally, I didn't think it was a very good talk, but would look better in prose. I believe none of it, Chesham isn't really that bad and this is all just hyperbole, OK? So here we go...

This obscenely slow and painful train journey, I thought, will be worth it. I mean, I paid two hundred and fifty notes of this holiday of a lifetime and a holiday of a lifetime it will be. Even discounting the train journey that takes a lifetime, and the Coke machine that wants a lifetime in exchange for a Sprite. I immediately assumed that whoever wrote the advert for Chesham must have been using a heavy dose of irong when describing the "romantic Met Line", either that or graffitoed whitish beige walls and annoying noises which sound like a woodpecker on speed attacking a steel block get their juices flowing.

On arrival in Chesham, it becomes evident that the writer actually did use a heavy dose of irony as I had surmised; ir maybe they just needed a heavy dose of clue. "The sun always shines in Chesham!" proclaimed the advert, obviously written by someone who most likely got a U in Key Stage One English, a level 8 in Key Stage Three Marketing To Deceive The Punter, an A* in GCSE Talking Utter Crap and a fail in A Level Looking Out The Window. Rather than shining and illuminating Chesham's Industrial Revolution glory, the sun appeared to be perenially piggy in the middle between rain and wind, or maybe to have grown sick of his centrally located porcine existance, exclaimed "Sod this for a game of soldiers" and buggered off for the rest of eternity.

It was at this point that I began to feel sorry for the copywriter, locked in his office at gunpoint until he and Microsoft Publisher managed to make something overwhelmingly positive about this godforsaken hell hole, and eventually being forced to insert a John Betjeman reference to make it look like someone gave a monkey's toss in the first place.

I elected to get some food and take advantage of the "free chicken dinner" at the "exclusive and acclaimed" Poulet Frit Meridional. The tour company had given me a piece of paper (in Comic Sans, with misspellings that would make The Guardian look like masters of English) with the addres of the place and directions to get there, but oddly enough no photos or indicia. On arrival at Poulet Frit Meridional, I realised that this was because the tour company had told an outrageous fib.

Poulet Frit Meridional did not exist, and I had in fact been directed to Southern Fried Chicken, where I could claim my free chicken dinner-or rather, a big bucket containing 8 pieces of greasy fried chicken, 4 portions of equally greasy fries and a lemon freshener wipe. After angrily asking where I was to eat a large bucket of chicken with nowhere to sit, I was directed to a bus shelter.

Sitting in the bus shelter was a unique social experiment. I quickly ascertained that there were three types of people in Chesham. The average Mail reading person who eyes you and the chicken suspiciously as if you're Denis Nilsen eating his next victim; the 20 year old youths who decide, after hearing about gang activity in LA, that there isn't enough horribly violent gun crime in the UK and seek to rectify this and take as many innocent people with them as they can; and the elderly, who benignly sit down and wait for the bus like every normal person. There is no digression from this set of stereotypes, and once you have reached the age of 20 it seems you are either an idiot, an idiot or an old person. Period.

After eating my "chicken dinner", I found a phone box and bellowed obscenities at the holiday company. During this brief and shockingly offensive conversation, it transpired that Baldwin Tours told more than their fair share of lies on the holiday ad. They had "plum forgotten" to book the exclusive B&B", so my bed and breakfast would consist of a sleep in the bus shelter and more fried chicken. Or an Egg McMuffin, if I could be bothered to stump up more cash. When I asked how the two hundred and fifty squid was distributed, I was told that all of it went to Southern Fried Chicken, and that the train here was just a regular ticket, purchased by the company owner. After more obscenities, it was revealed that I had, mysteriously under the name of the company exec, signed a contract of which I had no knowledge, waiving all rights that I had to say a certain sentence ending "and the horse you rode in on" to the idiots who put me here, and removing my right to a refund. They then hung up, and I went to sleep in the shelter.

The next morning, I decided to take a trip to Amersham, a neighbouring town mentioned in the advert as having been featured in 1984 by George Orwell. After some fact checking, I found that this was only because it had been the epicentre of a nuclear holocaust. Amersham itself was worlds away from Chesham, with far less people willing to slash your tyres and much more foliage. While Chesham retained not only Industrial Revolution charm but Industrial Revolution charm, infrastructure, public transport, ethics and air quality, Amersham had a far more breathable air supply and far less annoying citizens.

It was with great pleasure that I stepped on the train home, not just because I had something to look forward to that did not involve sleeping in a bus shelter or eating chicken products, and it wasn't the promised free coffee. It was the fact that I was leaving what was promised to be a blissful marriage of urban lifestyles and country ways, but was doomed to failiure from the pre-nuptials. Any visit to this place within a time frame of 250 years would be far too soon and in any case, it made Slough look like the Garden of Eden. Thank you for listening.

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