Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Novel ideas in Billericay

Good night last Friday at the Speed Dating for Writers session at Billericay Library. Twenty writers and publishers gathered to dispense advice to anyone who wanted to write a book. Clearly a lot of people in Billericay have a book in them and we had locals with ghost stories set on Scottish islands, romances, memoirs, self-help tomes, children's books, science fiction ideas and novels sitting in bedroom drawers. This writer was offering tips (don't do it for the money but do have an elevator pitch) alongside Syd Moore from Leigh, whose ghost stories Witch Hunt (set in Manningtree) and The Drowning Pool (set in Leigh-on-Sea) are well worth a look and ex-Melody Maker man and music book writer Brain Southall. Thanks to Belinda and Jules for keeping the evening going with white wine and crisps and good luck to all the aspiring writers in Essex.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Speed Dating in Billericay

"I ain't a bleedin' thickie…" I'm in the home town of Billericay Dickie this Friday, Sept 20, at Billericay Library as part of the Speed Dating For Writers section of the Essex Book Festival. The event starts at 7.30pm, click on the link for deails. It's a chance for would-be writers to come along and talk to published writers about how to get published and survive selling words. Writers appearing include Karen Bowman, Daryl Easlea, David Evans, Maggie Freeman, Julie Irwin, Peter Jones, Bernadine Kennedy, Sylvia Kent, Julian Lemel, Elizabeth Lord, Syd Moore and Rik Stone, plus publishers, journalists and editors. Should be a great evening in a town famed famed for the Norsey Woods bluebells, the end of the Peasants' Revolt and Ian Dury's memorable Essex Lothario.

Monday, 16 September 2013

Live at the ERO

Thanks to everyone at the Essex Record Office who attended my talk on The Joy of Essex on Saturday. A packed Lecture Theatre and hopefully the PowerPoint pictures of Sugar Hut in its days as a coaching inn and the ERO's parchment documents referring to the Peasants' Revolt went down well. Lord Petre from Ingatestone Hall was there cutting the cake and thanks to Hannah Salisbury for doing a great job organising my visit and providing sandwiches and crisps in the green room. The audience included my old schoolfriend Alison's mum Val and an old farmer mate of my Dad's, plus some interesting questions on Warley Mental Hospital (and check out the ERO's poignant records and photos of the hospital's patients in 1897). The after-gig party saw us perusing Charles 1st's Bible, Lord Petre's music from 1600 and the the pictured map of ancient Chelmsford, complete with barrow in Barrow Field, on the archive floor. And frighteningly my performance was recorded as part of the archive… as close to posterity as this writer will get!

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Essex Record Office Open Day

For an Essex lad it's a bit like playing Wembley. This Saturday, Sept 14, I'll be presenting a 45-minute talk based around The Joy of Essex at the Essex Record Office Open Day in Wharf Road, Chelmsford. The ERO is celebrating 75 years of preserving Essex archives in its eight miles of shelves. I'll be concentrating on the history included in The Joy of Essex and plan to bring in the Peasants' Revolt at Brentwood, Dickens and the Olde Kings Head in Chigwell, Tilbury Fort, what the Romans did for Colchester, Essex new towns, Paul Simon dating an Essex girl, Dr Feelgood and Canvey Island, Southend Pier and the Secret Nuclear Bunker at Kelvedon Hatch. The open day is from 10am-4pm and I'll be speaking at 1.30pm. Do come along and peruse some of the ERO's ancient artefacts, possibly including this writer, down by the banks of the Chelmer. Click on the link for details.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Joy of Essex at Gillespie Park

Thanks to everyone who bought copies of The Joy of Essex at the Gillespie Park Festival in Islington on Sunday. Here's a picture of me and Her Indoors on the writers stall, with The Joy of Essex on the right. And surprising how many Islingtonites had links with God's own county…

Monday, 9 September 2013

Jamie no mockney rebel

And still on accents, Jamie Oliver denies being a mockney in the Guardian. In the Family Values column he comments:

I grew up in a pub in Clavering, Essex. When I was first on telly in The Naked Chef, people thought I was a mockney, that I was posh and had gone to private school. But I went to a comprehensive and my parents, Trevor and Sally, weren't middle class; they were publicans. That's where my estuary accent comes from.

Indeed, Jamie's so Essex that in Jamie's Great Britain he famously claimed to have been conceived at the end of Southend Pier  — was it a 30-minute recipe we wonder? Click on the link to read the whole piece.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Hawes on Essex

A recent piece in the Observer on Keeley Hawes discusses her role in the new play Barking in Essex. It makes putting on an Essex accent seem like a tremendous feat of thespian skill… The piece reads: 

If it is hard to imagine Hawes's mellifluous accent mangling estuary English and foul-mouthed tirades, then that is a testament to her acting. She may be familiar as Lady Agnes Holland in Upstairs Downstairs (or, to another demographic, as the plummy voice of Lara Croft in the Tomb Raider video game), but she is the daughter of a London cabbie.
Her voice is the result of a decade of elocution lessons that started at the Sylvia Young theatre school in Marylebone, and included putting a pencil in her mouth to perfect her vowels. The change has become so ingrained that when Hawes was cast as Jason Statham's wife, called, perfectly, Wendy Leather, in the 2008 film The Bank Job, she needed training to regress her accent.
"There are lots of actors who are posh and stick with that and there are lots of actors who are cockney and that's what they do," she says. "That's fine, but I don't think that could be said about me. I just happen to have played a lot of people who speak properly. So it was kind of thrilling when I started this play. It feels a bit naughty and I was like, 'Fackin' hell! Oh my gawd, what's me mum gonna say?'"
I've regressed my accent without any training… Click on the link to read the whole interview. Sounds like a nice gel, as Mark Wright might put it.