Friday, 21 December 2012

Rainham stops play

Having read The Joy of Essex, my pal Jacqui suggests a chapter on Rainham for any follow-up. "Despite Rainham village being tiny it had 10 pubs / social clubs and yet we still craved the bright lights and sophistication of Romford – and it’s amazing how many times I see Rainham cropping up, despite it being such a tiny place and absolutely NOTHING happening there. One of the greatest British bands ever the Small Faces was formed after Steve Marriott met Ronnie Lane and Kenney Jones in the Albion pub, Kenneth Williams was apparently a frequent visitor (!!) and Ross Kemp grew up there – I’ve lost count of the number of references I’ve seen in books and articles over the years. (& to think I couldn’t wait to leave!)" All this, and it gets a namecheck in Bill Bailey's Billy Bragg parody Unisex Chipshop, with a line about "running naked round the woods in Rainham".

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Essex and Christine Ohuruogo at Newham Bookshop tonight

Olympic gold and silver medallist and children's book author Christine Ohuruogo — who went to school in Romford — will be at the Newham Bookshop's Christmas Shopping Night tonight at 745-747 Barking Road from 6-8pm. It's 20 per cent off all books and I'll also be signing copies of my latest book The Joy of Essex. And thanks and merry Essexmas to the lady from Southend who came in to the Newham Bookshop yesterday and bought no less than eight copies because her husband enjoyed it so much...

Monday, 3 December 2012

Essex trivia #6 Thurrock means "dung heap in a field"!

The word Thurrock does not have the most romantic of connotations: the council’s website reveals that in Saxon or Old English, ‘Turroc’ meant either ‘the bottom part of a boat where the bilge water lies’ or ‘a dung heap in a field’. 

All facts are from Pete May's new book The Joy of Essex (Robson Press).

Friday, 30 November 2012

Live on Drive-Time

Five minutes of fame for my book The Joy of Essex on Radio 5 Drive-Time on Monday live from the cafe at the Basildon Sporting Village. Peter Moore, who started out working on the Basildon Echo was amused by my billing as an Essexologist and managed to cover Bas Vegas, the Basilwood sign, Tiptree jam, West Ham and moire in my slot. Click on the link to listen, it's 2 hours 20 minutes in. Sporting Village looked well-used to judge by the packed car park and the rock-climbers in reception and Five Live also interviewed Olympian gymnast Max Whitlock on the show.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Big in Bas Vegas!

Thanks to all the good citizens of Basildon who have bought The Joy of Essex. It's flying off the shelves at Basildon Waterstones and has sold 60 copies in the last couple of weeks. "We do have a sense of humour about ourselves in Basildon," says the man behind the counter. And it's even on display nestling next to the Essex Joke
Book, The Little Book of West Ham and London Taxi Driver Rhyming Slang...

Friday, 23 November 2012

The worst free kick ever from Chelmsford City!

Sympathy to Chelmsford City midfielder Sam Corcoran. The worst free kick ever taken in the history of football has gone viral on YouTube and to make it worse Hayes and Yeading go straight down the pitch and score. Doh!

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Essex trivia #5 The Peasants' Revolt started in Brentwood

The notice board by the Thomas 'a Becket chapel in Brentwood High Streert reveals that Brentwood was the birthplace of the peasants' revolt of 1381. Rebellious Essex Men reacted to an over-zealous poll tax collector by giving him a slap. The revolt spread to Kent, Hertfordshire, Suffolk and Norfolk. Perhaps angered by high taxes on beauty salons, Kentish geezer Wat Tyler and his Essex mates proceeded to London with the medieval equivalent of West Ham’s Inter City Firm and smashed up Jack Straw's Castle. Though that's not the Jack Straw who went to Brentwood school...

All facts are from Pete May's new book The Joy of Essex (Robson Press).

Monday, 19 November 2012

Essex trivia #4 Marmalade Murders at Tiptree


“We had Midsomer Murders filming here a few years ago,” remembers the Wilkin & Son factory production manager Mike Smith. “The chap was crushed by what was meant to be a pallet of pickle, though it was really tawny marmalade.” Crushed by a conserve — a very British murder indeed.

All facts are from Pete May's new book The Joy of Essex (Robson Press).

Friday, 16 November 2012

Loved-up in Loughton

Loughton women are the flirtiest in Britain, according to a survey from Badoo, the social networking site for meeting people. Women in Loughton are more likely to respond to male messages than women anywhere else in Europe, it seems. Perhaps they like Theydon Bois. Almost inevitably this resulted in a headline in the Daily Star of "The Only Lay is Essex" and "The Only Way is Web Fllirting" in the Daily MirrorWhile Ilford is also in the flirting top ten at joint eighth place. Bottom of the league is dour old Manchester. What could it be about Loughton that inspires female/male online interaction? Well, there’s plenty of opportunity for hot dates in nearby Epping Forest where couples might like to stroll by the iron age fort of Loughton Camp, followed by a romantic dinner at Sheesh in nearby Chigwell, the Turkish restaurant with the largest mirror in Essex. As Bogart might put it: "I guess we'll always have Loughton…"

Out to launch with Joy of Essex

Thanks to all who attended the London launch of The Joy of Essex at the Wenlock and Essex in Essex Road, N1. (Essex launch to come once I can pass the dress code at Sugar Hut.) At the risk of sounding like Piers Morgan, here's me with a couple of local luminaries, writer Meg Rosoff on the left and Hattie Hayridge from Red Dwarf. Thanks to Nick Clee of Bookbrunch for the pic. Reem!

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

BBC Essex interview on The Joy of Essex

To hear The Joy of Essex and other great matters of Essexology debated on BBC Essex with Etholle George, click on the link. It's about 40 minutes in…

Monday, 12 November 2012

Weirdness in Chelmsford

Nice caption above The Joy of Essex in Chelmsford Waterstones. Her Indoors says funny weird... Saw the books while on BBC Essex with Etholle George and we had a good ten minute natter about Essexology, Bas Vegas, Tiptree jam, Essex humour and much more.

Essex trivia #3 Paul Simon wrote Homeward Bound about returning to Brentwood


Paul Simon penned Homeward Bound in either Ditton or Halebank stations in Widnes, while waiting for a train back to Brentwood, where he was living with his girlfriend. Yes, it was Brentwood that made him get all poetic.
He made his UK debut at the Railway Inn Folk Club in Brentwood in 1964 and met Kathy Chitty there, the inspiration for Kathy’s Song and America. She was a 17-year-old Essex girl on the door selling tickets to men in cord jackets. They dated for two years until Paul returned to the US. Kathy now lives in Wales and maintains a diplomatic sound of silence on all Simon-related subjects. Although we can picture her as a slightly folksier version of Amy Childs. 

All facts are from Pete May's new book The Joy of Essex (Robson Press).

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Essex trivia #2 Charles Dickens drank at Sheesh in Chigwell

Sheesh, the Turkish restaurant in Chigwell frequented by Towie's Mark Wright and other luminaries was once Charles Dockens' favourite pub. It was formerly the Olde Kings Head, built in 1547. Dickens used it as the basis for the Maypole Inn on in Barnaby Rudge. In one of his letters, Dickens described it as, “the greatest place in the world...Such a delicious old inn opposite the church...such beautiful forest scenery... such an out of the way rural place!” It now has zebra-patterened carpets and the largest mirror in Essex. What larks!

All facts are from Pete May's new book The Joy of Essex (Robson Press).

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Essex trivia #1 Billericay means place of tanning!

As for the name Billericay, the town was considered part of Great Burstead in the Domesday Book. The first mention of ‘Byllyrica’ was recorded in 1291. It’s believed to be derived from Medieval Latin, beller ca, which translates as dyehouse or tanhouse. Yes, even back then, the residents were into tanning!

All facts are from Pete May's new book The Joy of Essex (Robson Press).

Friday, 2 November 2012

Book signing at Newham Bookshop

If anyone has a spare moment between the pub and Ken's Cafe. I'm doing a book signing at the brilliant Newham Bookshop at 745-747 Barking Road, E13, from 3.30pm before the West Ham game against Manchester City on Saturday. I'll be signing The Joy of Essex, which features lashings of Tiptree jam, sunshine on Leigh with Phill Jupitus, a visit to Minnies boutique, Paul Simon wishing he was Homeward Bound for, erm, Brentwood, the largest mirror in Essex, Dr Feelgood, Grayson Perry's Chelmsford Sissies, Ian Dury, Tilbury Fort, the not-so-secret nuclear bunker, bluebells and Dickies in Billericay, scaling the Basildon sign on the A127, paranormal happenings and dodgy alleyways in Romford, Bas Vegas, Boudica going mental in Colchester, the only pub in Frinton, pier pressure in Southend, northern lights in Maldon, Stanford-no-Hope, sculpture in Harlow, Dickens channelled by Alan Sugar and Towie in Chigwell, the Essex Lion and lots of chip shops. Look back in Ongar and wonder if the only way is Upminster…

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Big in Southend!

It doesn't get any better than this... Took my kids to Southend for a day trip and found my book The Joy of Essex is on the front table at Southend Waterstones above Nanny Pat, Sam Faiers, the Secret Footballer, Peter Ackroyd, and the Sugar Girls. Result. And a nice new cafe at the end of the Pier too - all modernistic and warm, our tea and hot chocolate 1.33 miles out to sea was  followed by a great orange sunset and a giant harvest Moon over Southend...

Monday, 29 October 2012

Essexology on the road

Something of an Essexology-fest yesterday. Appeared on the Iain Dale Show on LBC at 12.30pm discussing my new book The Joy of Essex, managing to bring in Islanders chip shop in Canvey Island, tea dances in Saffron Walden, Paul Simon writing Homeward Bound about returning to Brentwood, the Basilwood sign on the A127 and the Roman arch in Colchester. Then took a taxi with a cabbie from Hornchurch to sell books at the Newham Bookshop stall at Goldsmith's Row in Hackney, near the Columbia Road flower market. Mentioning "Are you from Essex" or "Do you know anyone from Essex?" brought an interesting response from the flower market crowd. Bemusement from Swedish and Danish tourists, a look of horror from arty types and a clamour to buy the book from a Dr Feelgood fan from Barking and David from Chigwell whose daughter recently spotted Spurs' manager AVB in Sheesh. Should hit the target readership next Saturday, as there's a signing at the Newham Bookshop from 3.30pm before the West Ham versus Manchester City game.

Friday, 19 October 2012

A nice Essex dictionary from the Essex Chronicle…Amy Childs may want to talk to the man who wrote it!

Monday, 15 October 2012

The Joy of Essex out soon


My new book The Joy of Essex is published on Oct 30. Featuring my epic climb to the top of the Basildon Hollywood-style sign on the A127, an exploration of Bas Vegas, Lucy off Towie in her boutique, bovine attacks in Canvey Island, Henry Moore and Mr Drew in Harlow, lashings of Tiptree jam, the not very secret anymore nuclear bunker at Kelvedon Hatch, Ken Dodd in Clacton, the first pub in Frinton, Roman arches in Colchester, the most dangerous alley in Romford, Stanford-no-Hope, Phill Jupitus getting wistful about sunshine on Leigh and much much more...

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

In a Pickles over Essex


Eric Pickles, MP for Brentwood, has gone all Towie at the Tory conference, despite being a Yorkshireman. Pickles told the Tory boys and girls: "Now, I’m proud to have been born and bred in Yorkshire, but Essex is my home now.I have been transformed from a Yorkshire TYKE to an Essex TOWIE. My constituency is the location of the television programme The Only Way Is Essex. It’s fun TV and we all enjoy it. But there is another Essex Value that runs deep in the DNA of our Party:- if you work hard, you can go far. It’s a message well understood by Margaret Thatcher, John Major and by David Cameron." Wonder if he'll be going down Sugar Hut soon?

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Grayson's gaff

Grayson Perry is to design a fairytale holiday home that the Guardian describes as "a cross between a wayside chapel and a fairytale gingerbread house" on the Tendring Peninsula. It will overlok the River Stour six miles west of Harwich. Strangely there's no crashed car coming out of the roof, as there is on top of his vase Chelmsford Cissies. It's part of a scheme set up by philosopher Alain de Botton to "introduce holidaymakers to avant garde housing". The Turner Prize winning artist says he wants to get away from the Towie image of Essex girls and make the house a tribute to an Essex woman called Julie who wears purple and is more "in touch with her inner goddess". Not sure what he'll do if Gemma Collins comes along to book it having decided that the only wayside chapel in in Grayson's Essex.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Here's the cover of my new book The Joy of Essex out on October 15. Final proofs just left which is exciting... and note the Essex lion on top of the crest. Click on the link to read the blurb...

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Heavy petting in Wickford

The Mail on Sunday sent Wickford-raised Liz Jones to Wickford's very own dog hotel The Essex Pooch Palace, run by Tracey Rust. (Click on the link to read Jones's piece.) Here dogs get pampered while their owners are out at work, have their very own stiletto-shaped dog bed and even a four-poster bed, all for £20. Liz likes the hotel though she doesn't seem to think too much of her home town of Wickford, "the last place in the world where globalisation hasn't reached". Maybe she prefers Barking. Liz is happier with the blonde staff of the Essex Pooch Palace though and pens a fierce defence of Essex Girls: "I have to wonder at people’s prejudice: not just about pampering pooches, but about a woman’s choice to dye her hair, and wear glittery nail polish, and a pink T-shirt, because Essex girls are feisty, fearless and clever beneath all that slap. Underestimate them at your peril."

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Juke box Dury

Nice to see Ian Dury's Spasticus Autisticus, a song that was very controversial in the 1980s, included in the opening ceremony of the Paralympics. What an Olympics for Essex it's been so far with the inclusion of Dury, the Prodigy, Blur, Underworld, Jesse J, Russell Brand and I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles.