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2011-09 Chantelle the Chav

a column for the SligoWeekender written by James

 
Nineteen year-old Chantelle is a single Mum of two. Poured into her chair, Chantelles Michelin-Man-body-hugging-belly-top and undulating gold leggings are strikingly set off by her gold hula-hooped earrings, her mega-massive Ugg boots, and her carroty coif pulled back in an agonizingly-tight high cascading pony-tail. Chantelles first-born Britney is 4. Britneys Dad Dwayne is in prison for drug-dealing, domestic violence, theft, rioting and inciting hatred. Chantelle hates her Mum Tash ever since Tash put Chantelle into care. So Chantelle is for now living with Dwaynes Dad Dave, who fathered her second child Chelseigh. Dave is unemployed, and is a pot-smoking binge-drinking racist, homophobic, misogynistic gambler, who beats Chantelle. But Chantelle loves Dave, even though she thinks she may be lesbian since her fling with Candice. Through her inarticulate incessant bitchy rant we gradually learn that Chantelle is here for a double DNA-test, and double Lie-Detector test, because Dwayne and Dave have never trusted Chantelle since she had the one-night stand with Craig. And Candice.  And someone called Chantelle a slag on Facebook last week. Chantelle and her entire chav-circle are on Facebook, and Twitter, and Bebo. And benefits. 
And we wonder why there were riots in England?

Whatever we decide to call it (The Jeremy Kyle Generation, or a human form of bear-baiting), how has civilization allowed this generation of irresponsible, alienated, hostile and socially inadequate juvenile delinquents who keep their brains in their trackie-bottoms, to form an entirely new sub-class below the bottom rung of societys ladder? Mob mentality has been around centuries before even Christs crucifixion was called for. In the same way wolves and hyenas travel in packs to protect each other and in order to kill larger prey, people in crowd situations behave differently to individuals. And when a crowd thinks as one, their enthusiasm grows.

It was fun!, made life interesting, got us noticed, showed the rich and the police that we can do what we like were just a few of the quotes indistinctly emitted from beneath those rambling hoodies. With an unmitigated lack of social skills and no sense of responsibility, these hooligans get sucked into crime and antisocial behaviour because they have been set no moral boundaries to make them feel guilt or shame. They have no jobs to go to, no exams to sit, and most have no respected role-models. They can operate mobile phones, can send texes (sic), are able to play computer games, and yet are essentially  illiterate and innumerate. The animal impulses are apparent  they eat, drink, quarrel, have sex, and destroy. No apparent skills, no education, no morals, and no goals lead inevitably to a culture of violence and outright disrespect for authority. Basic Twitter and Bebo skills meant word spread fast amongst looting rioters, and flash mobs took to the streets. Admittedly the divide between rich and poor remains cavernous, there is no real democracy, and an increasingly high level of unemployment. People feel disconnected from, and have no pride in, or respect for their communities.

Why not simply remove benefits from those who refuse to seek work, or training?

And that goes for Ireland too. We Irish are understandably angry at our country, its banks, its government, and those who have unashamedly thieved from under our noses. But the solution is not to take part in welfare fraud. Those who need Social Protection ought to of course be granted it  the unemployed, ill, disabled, widowed, retired, aged, those on maternity leave and others. Yes its easy for me as I have never withdrawn a cent from the welfare coffers, and my hobby became my career. But I worked hard to achieve my goals, and I am continually goal-setting.

However I think one individual story I heard first-hand a few weeks ago really got me thinking. A neighbour of a dear friend is a Single Mum with two kids from different Dads, which is fine. She is unemployed, which is a shame, but a sign of the times. She has the Single Mums allowance, and a free house (and rumour has it a new partner). But when we were chatting, she had to rush away as she was looking after the kids on her own this week, as her Nannys gone home to Spain for a fortnight. Nuff said, innit?

In Ireland there are thousands of social welfare tip-offs a month, and an estimated 3 billion euro in social welfare fraud. Wouldnt it be a good start to at least put an end to that?