Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Grayson Perry's Dream House: no drabness in Wrabness

Enjoyed Grayson Perry's Dream House on Channel 4, which was one long homage to Essex. Grayson wore a pink jacket with "Essex" embroidered on the back as he won over the residents  of Wrabness with his plan to create an "Essex Taj Mahal". The house he builds is a cross between Hansel and Gretel and a Catholic Church. It celebrates Julie May Cope, a fictional Essex Woman who was married twice and died after being hit by a pizza delivery bike. The most enjoyable moment is when Grayson gets a gang of real-life Essex Julies on bikes and persuades then to pedal round Julie's life path, from Canvey Island to a tower block in Basildon and then being hit by a dodgy pizza boy in Colchester. His Julies have a surprising amount of empathy for his dream house and the artist himself looks pretty tearful as he confronts his problematic relationship with his mother. The documentary also shows how open-minded people in Essex can be; geezer builders buy into a fantasy house created by a metropolitan transvestite while the posher residents of Wrabness seem quite content to have a massive goddess with huge yellow breasts topping Grayson's fantasy structure. Time for a pilgrimage to Wrabness.

Friday, 15 May 2015

Grayson Perry's House for Essex

Plenty of coverage of Grayson Perry's House for Essex in Wrabness. It's a homage to an Essex everywoman called Julie and according to Grayson is for, "single mums in Dagenham, hairdressers in Colchester, and the landscape and history of Essex." Julie was born in Canvey Island in 1953 and married first Dave, a bit of a rogue, and then Bob who was steadier. Tragically she was knocked over by a boy racer on a moped and killed and the house is her shrine. The offending moped can be seen hanging from the ceiling. The BBC's Will Gompertz went through Julie's record collection and found a number of Dr Feelgood LPs, suggesting that both Perry (and Julie) are fans. At last Essex is high art and rarefied critics are having to speak reverentially about Julie and Dave. Nice one, Grayson.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Willie vote in Chelmsford

Here's a very Essex take on the election from the Essex Chronicle. A Chelmsford voter drew a penis in the box besides Ukip candidate Mark Gough's name. The crude vote, from the Springfield North ward, sparked a lively debate about whether the penis was a comment or an actual vote for the candidate. The offending penis was flagged up as a doubtful vote and not allowed to stand, though Ukip candidate Gough joked, "He was trying to vote for me!" Perhaps the voter was just applying the term 'honourable member' rather too literally…

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Snooker loopy: Essex rules the world

Another week when Essex rules the world. After waiting 20 years Basildon's Stuart Bingham has won the snooker World Championship at the Crucible in Sheffield. He come out with a few choice Essex phrases including "winner winner chicken dinner" and claimed that his success was inspired by Mark Allen saying he had "no bottle". Nice one, Stuart.

Meanwhile Russell Brand is emerging as the unlikely kingmaker in the General Election, finally advising his followers to vote for Labour. Who would have thought that a geezer from Grays saying he's decided to vote would be big political news or index that Brand would be voted as the fourth most influential world thinker in Britain by Prospect magazine. Grays Man is now up there with John Stuart Mill, Rousseau, Hobbes, Marx and Engels, though presumably none of those ever wrote about taking heroin and sex addiction in their autobiography.

Meanwhile the Guardian's Do Something supplement has a cover feature on Grayson Perry's love of mountain biking. He describes off-load cycling as a boy in the woods around Chelmsford to get away from his dysfunctional family and still cycles in Epping Forest, finding the open competitiveness of mountain biking more honest than that of the art world.

Three very different Essex Men in the news, but all proving that right now Essex culture appears to be taking over the planet.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Barking's dogged resistance to dog poo

Barking and Dagenham council is to become the first UK council to DNA-test dog poo left on the streets. Once all the borough's dogs have been chipped and DNA sampled then any rogue poo merchants can be caught and fined. Some poor council official is going to have to take a sample of the pavement poo and then analyse it with Pooprints (this is a copyrighted name) technology. Such canine capers could represent the turd way in council politics. And poo-testing will surely take off in Pupminster and then travel all stations to Pooburyness.

BBC goes coastal in Essex

The BBC continues to be obsessed with the voting habits of Essex men and women, particularly in the coastal areas where Ukip stands a chance. There's an interesting video on Jaywick Sands, the most deprived area in the country, on bbbcnews.com, while Carolyn Quinn visited the Castle Point constituency for Radio 4's PM on St George's Day, taking in the Hoy and Helmet pub in Benfleet and the hair salons and skateparks of Canvey Island. Click on the links to hear the full reports.

Monday, 20 April 2015

Mortgage bills in Harold Hill

With the Conservatives promising to give housing association tenants the right to buy, there's been a lot of looking back at one of the first council houses sold by Margaret Thatcher's government in 1980, in where else but Essex. The BBC News filmed outside 39 Amersham Road in Harold Hill, while the Daily Telegraph had a feature on the housing history of the property. Margaret Thatcher was famously filmed handing over the keys to the new owners, the Patterson family, although the pressure of paying a mortgage eventually resulted in their marriage breaking-up. It was sold for £8000 and has since increased in value hugely to more than £186k in 2004 and mirrors the history of housing in Britain. Click on the link to read the Telegraph piece.