Visiting Romford recently reminded me of this brilliant anecdote from "Sickofstupidity", an Independent reader responding after my piece last October on the 20th anniversary of Essex Man. You really couldn't make it up…
My only experience of Essex was a few years ago, when a friend invited me to his family's Christmas Day dinner on the outskirts of Romford (I think).
His family were typical Essex folk, in that they were very 'down-to-earth', unpretentious people, and generous and hospitable to a fault, and it was a very pleasant dinner.
After the meal, we retired to the living room, and it was then that things suddenly took a turn for the surreal....
My friend's teenage sister had invited her boyfriend over for the after-dinner drinks, and decided to entertain him - and the rest of the assembled family and guests - by putting on a little show. She disappeared upstairs and came down moments later dressed in a very revealing Santa Claus outfit. She then proceeded to perform an extremely raunchy and suggestive dance number, in the middle of the living room, to the accompaniment of an equally raunchy and suggestive pop-song on the hi-fi (I think it was Madonna or similar). Her boyfriend obviously enjoyed the show, if the hypnotized expression on his face and the impressive bulge in his trousers were any guide. Interestingly, the other guests - all local Essex people - did not seem the least bit shocked by any of this, but laughed and applauded, while her mother and grandmother beamed with pride, as if to say 'That's our girl! Always knows how to turn on the fellas...'.
I just sat there, speechless and blushing with embarrassment. Was this sort of uninhibited sexual display by teenage daughters considered nothing more than wholesome family entertainment in Essex?
Of course, being gay myself, her raunchy gyrations had no effect on me whatsoever; it was the visible arousal of her boyfriend - who was quite a tall, strapping, handsome hunk of a lad, I must say - that was turning me on. And I was secretly hoping that he would reciprocate with a raunchy dance number of his own. Sadly, it was not to be; when her dance had finished, she promptly dragged her - thoroughly primed - boyfriend upstairs, where they proceeded to copulate very noisily for the next two hours (lucky girl...). And each muffled groan, ecstatic squeal and ceiling-shaking climax only elicited more beaming smiles of pride from her mother and grandmother, and exchanges of knowing winks and chuckles between the other guests.
Welcome to Essex! I thought - 'down-to-earth' indeed!