The best and worst of Essex were on display during my recent visit to Upminster.
Walking up Corbet’s Tey Road there was a young Herbert rolling away from the pub pushing his red-haired girlfriend. This was on the other side of the road and at first you wondered if it was the sort of joshing you might see between Smithy and his sister in Gavin and Stacey. But it was something more sinister.
“If you push her again I’m calling the police! You should be ashamed of yourself, she’s a woman!” shouted a brave and angry middle-aged woman in the street. He shouted something abusive back - and he was a big bloke - she dialled for the law and the Herbert slunk off accompanied by his poor companion.
The police arrived and took a couple of statements from passers-by and shop owners but alas it was too late to find the culprit. But full marks to that Upminster woman who saw cowardly injustice and took action.
It reminded me that there was always an undercurrent of violence beneath the commuter facade when I was growing up in Essex. Getting threatened for eyeing up someone’s bird in that pub by the bus stop in Brentwood High Street, violent abuse after reversing too close to someone’s motor, my dad threatening to knock someone’s effing block off in a row over a parking space at Warley Fords, St Martin’s School’s lads turning up outside our school allegedly with bicycle chains.
If there was an English David Lynch he would surely be making Twin Peaks-style films in the Essex commuter belt – all is not as it seems behind the privet hedges and Ford motors.