Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Record-breaking in Chelmsford

Thanks to Hannah Salisbury and all at the Essex Record Office for a great tour of their eight miles of archives. Situated in Wharf Road, down by the Dr Feelgood-esque backwaters of the River Chelmer, the ERO has thousands of fascinating Essex documents. 

We pondered old Victorian maps of Brentwood, photos of defunct Essex cinemas, saw King Charles the First's Bible and ancient parchment from 1381 detailing the penalties imposed after the Peasants' Revolt, that started in Brentwood (make your own jokes here). Quite sensibly, the Peasants burned all the manorial records, wiping out any poll tax claims. It's fascinating that Essex Man had an eye for the main chance even then. The ERO's Katharine Schofield  showed me the court records from Abbess Roding detailing a payment of 12d as the expenses of the bailiff and two men sent to Writtle to recover a cow taken during the revolt. Dodgy characters Richard and Joseph Herde had also taken the chance to nick eight pieces of timber, a pair of double harrow with rings and clasps of iron and four cartloads of hay… 

The ERO also has a sound and video archive including Paul Simon playing at a Brentwood folk club and an amazing jingle enticing residents to South Woodham Ferrers. I'll be talking about my book The Joy of Essex as part of the ERO's open day on September 14 — it's also going to be filmed and will go into the eight miles of archives. Posterity beckons… 

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Essex torch and twang

Well kosher piece on the cockney dialect migrating to Essex and the evolving language of the East End in the Guardian. Though still not sure what nang means. Writer Nikesh Shukla makes some great points about how cockney has always been influenced by immigration:

Think about how much of cockney comes from different languages anyway, like Yiddish ("kosher"), German ("shtoom"), Romany ("wonga"). My mum always said that loads of cockney came from Hindi. "Pukka" is from the Hindi, meaning solid. "Blighty" is from the Hindi bilati, meaning foreign land. "Bandana" is from the Hindi bandhana, to tie. "Cushti", again, from the Hindi khush, or happy. Bish-bash-bosh ... No one knows where that one comes from. Except Danny Dyer.

Click on the link to have a butchers at the whole piece.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Happy Jack in Southend

Great piece on Southend blogger Jack Monroe in the Guardian. She writes like a modern-day George Orwell about the psychological effects of poverty while living as a single mum on benefits in her blog Her recipes on how to feed herself and your son on £10 a week were a huge hit too and are going to be published by Penguin, earning her a £25k advance (advances are split in to three chunks by the way and don't make you instantly rich). She's also now a trainee journalist at the Southend Echo and offers an inspiring tale on how to improve your life through the power of words. Click on the link to read.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Wilko alive and gigging

Great to see Wilko Johnson still with us and performing songs like Paradise to 30,000 people in Chalkwell, Southend, at the Village Green Festival (short video of his set on the link). A fitting farewell to the Thames Delta. Also check out his thoughts on mortality in this Guardian interview. He does it right.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Edgeland made me…

My pal Katie, an exiled Romfordian, enthuses about the brilliant film The Outer Edges she's just seen at the East London Film Festival. It's by Karl Hyde (one half of Underworld and a product of Romford too) and director Kieran Evans. Katie writes: "It is a bit Iain Sinclair-ish and a bit Patrick Keiller-ish, but more down to earth than both of those. I just loved it - totally beautiful - the best film I've seen on East London/Essex." Check out the YouTube clip and interactive Outer Edges map, on the links, plus a great performance by Karl Hyde of 8 Ball at the Union Chapel. The film covers Dagenham, Tilbury, Barking, Grays and all those edgy places by the Thames that are rarely filmed. And there's a solo Karl Hyde album Edgeland to go with the film.