Thursday, 4 February 2016

Essex gets a GQ makeover from Andy Coulson

There's a big feature on Essex in the February issue of GQ. It's penned by Wickford-born Andy Coulson, former Cameron spin doctor, News of the World editor and latterly prisoner. Now he's done his time following the phone hacking scandal Andy has perhaps made it as an authentic Essex geezer. His piece looks at the Towie stereotypes and discusses the Tories in Essex, mentioning the large number of rising MPs such as Robert Halfon in Harlow, Priti Patel in Witham and Mark Francois in Rayleigh and Wickford (forget the poncy spelling says Andy). There's also a nice line on Ed Miliband's Labour Party trying to use a spoof Life on Mars poster saying "Don't let the Tories take us back to the 1970s". Coulson quips, "in Basildon they'd elect Gene Hunt as Mayor."

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Good buy to Berlin gets blogger back to Brentwood

Blogger Jordan Cox has made national news through his discovery that it was cheaper to travel from Sheffield to Brentwood via Berlin, rather than take the direct train from Sheffield to Essex. Cox, 18, had been attending a lecture in Sheffield when he made the discovery for the Money Saving Expert website. Jordan took a train from Sheffield to Derby then a flight from East Midlands airport to Berlin and back again to Stansted. This only cost him £44 as compared to the £47 train fare. While in Berlin he took in the Brandenberg Gate, a free tour of the Reichstag, Checkpoint Charlie and Postdamer Platz and had a currywurst lunch. All that culture sounds almost as good as Brentwood's sights of the Thomas 'a Becket Chapel, Konch's Kafe and Sugar Hut. Perhaps not the most eco-friendly way to travel from Sheffield to Brentwood, but another triumph for Essex initiative.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Hammer hits the wall in Hornchurch

Essex, footballer, fast car and garden wall meet with damaging results. There's a full-page in the Evening Standard on West Ham's Diafra Sakho crashing his Lamborghini through a garden wall in Hornchurch, after colliding with another car and spinning off the road. The accident happened 500 yards from Sakho's home. Thankfully no-one was hurt, though Diafra's motor is badly damaged. And it turns out the garden wall he crashed into was at the home of a West Ham fan, who immediately recognised him. Not often your heroes arrive through the garden wall. Sakho has promised to pay for the damage and has tweeted that he is safe and unharmed.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Rocket Ronnie tells it like it is at the Masters

Another sporting triumph for Essex with Ronnie O'Sullivan winning the Masters, beating Barry Hawkins at Ally Pally. There's something very Essex about the Chigwell-born O'Sullivan's plain speaking. He confessed to being "embarrassed" by the way he won the semi-final and then admitted that he was "stressed" pursuing his sixth Masters win. No PR spin from Ronnie. The 'Essex Exocet' continued: "I've taken up smoking again, just because of this tournament. I've been getting lazy. I've been eating like a pig and haven't run for two weeks." A friend of mine met him at an airport in Australia once, without knowing who he was, and had a long chat with him, confirming he seemed a genuinely nice chap. Now at 40, O'Sullivan, one of sport's great characters, is pursuing yet more success and some think he may be the greatest snooker player of all-time.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Wilko for Christmas

Good interview with the immortal Wilko Johnson, conducted at his Westcliff-on-Sea gaff, in this week's New Statesman. Writer Kate Mossman has a good point when she writes:You wonder if he responded to his approaching end in the manner he did because jobbing musicians are programmed to think, breathe, live and be happy in the short term. It also includes an Essex epiphany at the start of Doctor Feelgood's fame: “And there’s one moment I’ll always remember. We were returning home from London and when you get to Barking there’s a big flyover, and we were right at the top of it. I looked out and I could see the lights of Essex out before us, and I said to myself, ‘I wonder what is going to happen . . .’” Click on the link to read.

Monday, 14 December 2015

Wags in Romford

Came across WAGS beauty emporium while in Romford at the weekend. If only it had been open in the 1980s days of Frank McAvennie and his West Ham teammates visiting the legendary Hollywood nightclub in Romford…

Thursday, 26 November 2015

George Osborne and Radio 4 channel Essex Man

Osborne in Ockendon
The political classes remain as fixated with Essex as ever. In response to the government's spending review, Radio 4's Today sent a reporter to Harlow, where they've been monitoring the reactions of a street of residents to the tax credit cuts debate. No-one was watching the debate live, though they did find a man watching paint dry who was relieved that the tax credit cuts had been postponed. Then Today went into a live interview with Chancellor George Osborne at a building site in South Ockendon. Geezer Gideon was there meeting apprentices at Persimonn Homes with Thurrock MP Jackie Doyle-Price. Is aspirational Essex really central to the voting culture of the nation? Or is it just a convenient distance from London for a good soundbite or photo opportunity? I wrote about the subject in the New Statesman last year, and it seems little has changed, with Essex symbolism still beloved by all politicos.