Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Essex, serpents and Graves' Disease

Good news for Sarah Perry. My London book group is now reading The Essex Serpent to add to her sales among the metropolitan liberal elite. It's also been all over Waterstone's as the store's book of the year. Serpent is a great read and magically evokes the mysterious scenery of the Blackwater estuary, as well as containing the Colchester earthquake and some vivid writing on the Victorian conflict between science and religion. Check out Perry's recent interview in the Guardian too, where she reveals that the strain of writing and selling the novel might have given her the Gothic-sounding Graves' Disease (it affects the thyroid and leaves the sufferer exhausted). She says she lay in bed repeating every one star review on Amazon to herself, though she's certainly not had many of those and the critics' response has been overwhelmingly positive. Thankfully the Chelmsford-born Perry is now recovering from the worst effects of the disease and will hopefully be well enough to complete another book soon, because she's one of our most talented new authors.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Prisoner Cell Block Essex

Picked up a copy of new! on the train the other day and it's interesting to note that two of the original female stars of Towie are dating what the magazine refers to as "jailbird lovers". Lauren Goodger has been on Loose Women to talk about her relationship with Joey Morrison, currently serving an 18-year prison sentence. While Amy Childs is having a baby with boyfriend Bradley Wright, who served six months for handling stolen goods. You do have to admire the ability of the women of Essex to see the good in everyone and there desire to reform recidivists. Who needs a probation service when you have Towie?

Friday, 10 February 2017

Not with a bang but with a Wimpy

My pal John has just informed me that the Wimpy restaurant in Barking has just closed, marking the end of an era. For those who thought Wimpy bars died out in the 1970s. they've proved surprisingly resilient in Essex. Aficionados should note that the McDonalds-isation of fast food hasn't affected God's own county. Wimpys still stalk the county like throwback dinosaurs in Jurassic Park, living on in Billericay, Wickford, Basildon, Benfleet, Clacton, Colchester, Maldon, Rayleigh, Benfleet,  Leigh, Westcliff-on-Sea, Grays and Southend. 

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

God save the Essex Pistols

An unlikely mention for Essex in Steve Jones' book Lonely Boy: Tales from a Sex Pistol. Talking about a possible future Sex Pistols tour (they reformed in 1996 and 2007) he writes: "People say 'Well the Rolling Stones are still doing it', but I don't think they would be on our money. Also their business doesn't have to be run in such way as to keep two imaginary c**ts in some East London council estate happy. I get that it's good to be the real deal when you're twenty, but when you get to be older things change. The two imaginary c**ts have probably sold their council flat and f**ked off to Essex by now, anyway."

Lonely Boy is well worth reading; a strange mixture of sadness, sleaze and humour from Jonesy who manages to write about getting sexually abused by his stepfather, compulsive thieving, alcoholism and heroin and sex addiction with candour and bluff humour. Very politically incorrect but a great read. And believe it or not Jonesy's now kicked all his addictions bar food and is into transcendental meditation in LA…

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Essex Hammers: Goodbye to Boleyn now out

‘Essex scribe and literary Hammer Pete May writes with humour and eloquence about the most turbulent year of change at the Boleyn since Ken’s CafĂ© got a tub of Flora.’ Phill Jupitus

My new book Goodbye to Boleyn is now out and might make a suitable Christmas present for anyone hanging up a claret and blue stocking. It's the story of the final season at the Boleyn Ground and the first games at Stratford, plus chapters on Ken's Cafe, the Newham Bookshop, Upton's Park's boozers and much more. Click on the link to the right for more details.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Estuary English

Good review of Rachel Lichtenstein's new book Estuary: Out from London to the Sea in the Guardian. Lichtenstein's journey takes her down the Thames Estuary from Tower Bridge to Clacton on the Essex side and out to Whitstable on the Kent side. There's plenty of Essex interest here — ghosts under Southend pier, Canvey Island, Joseph Conrad, Thames barges, fishermen, mudlarks, divers, sea forts, wind farms, sunken ships full of munitions, China and clay pipes and the author capsizing in a dingy and breaking her hand, Click on the link to read the full review.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

How many Essex girls does it take to saturate the media?

Something of an Essex Girl overload today. The Times has a full page feature ("The only way is out for Essex girl label") interviewing former Bloomberg workers Natasha Sawkins and Juliet Thomas, who started the petition on the Mother Hub website to have the words 'Essex girl' removed from the Oxford English Dictionary. They also have a hash tag campaign where successful women reclaim the phrase with #iamanessexgirl.

The Sun also covers the furore while the Evening Standard has a feature proclaiming "Essex girl campaigners win meeting with bosses of dictionary." The Victoria Derbyshire Show on BBC interviewed several Essex women talking about the petition while tomorrow's Guardian has a Pass Notes on Essex Girls. Meanwhile the publishers of the Oxford Dictionary thank the campaigners for their interest but say they can't exclude offensive terms. And rather ironically, the well-intentoned petition seems to have bought the phrase Essex girl right back into the public consciousness…