Wednesday, 27 November 2013

The Joey of Essex

Good to see Joey Essex proving adept at fighting off crabs and critters on I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here! He might have needed help from Amy Willerton telling the time, but Joey has shown an Essex Man's self-starting ability to get stuck in to the Bushtucker trials, winning ten meals for his team. And now we find Joey's dad Donald, who with his shaved head looks like a proper Essex geezer, emerging with a pithy summary of his boy's achievements. He told the Sun about the time Joey was let go from Billingsgate fish market and was told he was 'useless': “What could I say? I had to agree — Joey is bloody useless. I call it living on ‘Planet Joey’. Even I’ve been gobsmacked. I mean, I didn’t know he couldn’t tell the time and as for not knowing how to blow your nose, I’m embarrassed to be honest. Joey’s a one-off. You won’t find another like him, believe me." And commenting on any possible romance with Amy, Donald suggests the, ahem, direct approach favoured on Brentwood High Street: "I think it's obvious he fancies her. She's beautiful she's intelligent and she's lovely. So he should steam in there! Good luck Joey."

Friday, 15 November 2013

Austerity's poster girl in Southend

Good interview with cookery blogger Jack Monroe in the Evening Standard this week and a nice shot of her on the Southend seafront too. "Austerity's poster girl" gives some great answers to the criticism of Richard Littlejohn in the Daily Mail, pointing out she never chose to live on benefits, being forced to leave her job in a fire station because she couldn't work night shifts with a young baby. In fact through her blog she's now earning a living writing about food and has created her own job. A credit to the county and not deserving of nasty journalism. Click on the clink to read the interview in full.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Brand recognition

Essex man Russell Brand has become a YouTube hit and made the front page of the Guardian with his arguments for a new politics. Though I can’t agree with not voting, he makes some great points and uses much of the Essex wit featured in my chapter on Essex Humour in The Joy of Essex.

Firstly there’s the self-deprecation: “It's easy to attack me, I'm a right twerp, I'm a junkie and a cheeky monkey, I accept it, but that doesn't detract from the incontrovertible fact that we are living in a time of huge economic disparity and confronting ecological disaster.”

Then there’s the sarcasm: “Banks that have grown by 30% since the crisis and are experiencing record profits and giving their execs record bonuses. How about, hang on to your hats because here comes a naïve suggestion, don't give them that money, use it to create one million jobs at fifty grand a year for people who teach, nurse or protect.”
And you also feel that many of the Oxbridge types laying into Brand are simply outraged that a bloke from Grays who is a former junkie turns out be a better writer than them. As Brand writes: “I think these columnist fellas who give me aggro for not devising a solution or for using long words are just being territorial. When they say "long words" they mean "their words" like I'm a monkey who got in their Mum's dressing up box or a hooligan in policeman's helmet.”

Perhaps it’s time for am Essex coalition government formed by Russell Brand, Billy Bragg and Grayson Perry?

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

No Place To Call Home

Just finished reading Katharine Quarmby's No Place To Call Home which has a lot  of interviews on the Dale Farm gypsy evictions — which ultimately seem to have achieved little at great expense, as many families are still living by the site in worse conditions. She looks at the history of persecution against gypsies and travellers and the book is eye-opening about society's fear of travellers and how in 18th century Britain you could be executed simply for being a gypsy (men by hanging, women by drowning). And how many people realise that half a million gypsies were killed by the Nazis?

Nor is No Place To Call Home a woolly liberal romantic apology for anti-social behaviour. The book makes it clear that some of the crusties at the Dale Farm eviction made things things worse. And that in any community there can be some bad people,while in a self-policing community arguments can sometimes be settled by the strongest fists. But statistically gypsies are not involved in crime any more than any other group and incidents of racism against them are rarely reported because they are not taken seriously.

At times the book is reminiscent of John Pilger writing about Australia's hidden racism against the Aborigines. It makes a moving appeal for decent sites for gypsies and travellers, respect and tolerance rather than relying on rumour and suspicion.