Tuesday, 21 September 2010
Life after Debden
Do the Debden Skins still rule OK?
Who’d have thought it? The Debden Skins are now TV stars. Enjoyed Channel 4’s Alan Davies’ Teenage Revolution, where he revisited the Loughton of his youth. Davies was the public-school educated son of a chartered accountant in a leafy suburb, rebelling by driving a Yamaha moped (I preferred the Honda SS50), listening to the Jam and liking John McEnroe.
The programme showed we’d all come a long way from the 1980s. Back then it was routine for Davies and his crew to routinely bait and nick stuff from the “Paki Shop” — although the adult Davies redeems himself by tracking down the old shop owner and apologizing.
The funniest/scariest section was the bit on the Debden Skins, who came from an East End overspill estate and used to terrorise the local gigs. Debden is today the home of who else but Danny Dyer. Davies tracks down Ian a former Debden Skin, and interviews him outside the Winston Churchill pub. Minus his Crombie, Ian turns out to be a bit cuddlier these days.He’s not as racist as his dad, who votes BNP, which is a kind of progress.
The Independent wrote: “Revisiting one of the skins, Ian, it was difficult to believe he meant too much harm, though the old prejudices are without doubt still there. Ian's dad claimed the family left Hackney because there were "too many coloureds" and will soon move again for the same reason. Curiously, he came over rather bashful before admitting this to the cameras. "I'm not sure I should say this on here," he mumbled, a confession that would indicate either an awareness of his views' inherent wrongness, or a belief that the TV-watching masses exist in a kind of liberal conspiracy against him. Either way, it was all a little disconcerting.”
The Debden Skins also caused a furore in the local press. “Alan Davies’ TV show ‘made Debden look racist,’” wrote the Ilford Recorder, as the pub landlord complained that his was a family pub. While the Epping Forest Guardian wrote of "Loughton landlord fury".
Thirty years on, and the Debden skins are still stirring up aggro.