Friday, 31 December 2010

Good Griff

It’s been an Essex end to 2010. Our family has just seen Griff Rhys Jones star as Fagin in Oliver! at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. He made a fine over-the-top Fagin with lots of silly voices and facial contortions. To judge by the encore, Griff really enjoyed himself as he leapt around the stage exhorting the audience to louder cheers.

Rhys Jones is also the author of Semi-Detached, a captivating Essex memoir on growing up in suburban Epping and attending Brentwood school. There’s lots on the bogs of Epping Forest, Harlow’s municipal swimming pool and its terrifying diving board and endless trips with his dad sailing around Mersea and ending up marooned on mud with his snoring snoring family. And it has a whole chapter on 339 bus from Brentwood to Epping. Respect, Mr Jones.

And a fitting end to 2010 has come with New Year’s Eve Desert Island Discs on Radio 4 featuring Sandie Shaw from Dagenham. Sandie actually worked for six months punching cards at the Ford factory in Dagenham and sang the soundtrack to the film Made in Dagenham, a song written by Billy Bragg.

Shaw still had great Essex wit as she took Kirsty Young through her three marriages, blowing a fortune, Buddhism and dancing Hand in Glove with Morrissey while wearing stilettos. Clearly not anyone’s Puppet on a String.

Welcome 2011. The future is Essex.