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.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

The name's Kane…

Essex Comedian Russell Kane wows Edinbugh…

Essex is surely Britain's funniest county. Good to see Westcliff-on-Sea resident Russell Kane win the Edinburgh Comedy Award. Kane is on record as saying he will never leave Southend and Essex features heavily in his act.

His Fakespeare had a version of Shakespeare set in Essex, where King Nigellio was a banker contemplating suicide after the credit crunch, along with his mistress, Donna from "Billericoy". In his act he describes his cockney dad who has "neck muscles so strong he can climb stairs with them" and who thinks all Penguin Classics readers are gay and would tell Russell he's proud of him, but he's off to his shed instead.

We can add Kane's name to Phill Jupitus, James Corden, Russell Brand and Lee Evans. What is it that makes Essex people funny? Could it be the self-deprecating banter of the exiled East Ender culture that is instilled from school days, the heritage of Ian Dury and Essex Man, or just the fact there's so much material in the hinterlands of the A13?