What’s the absolute worst thing about Essex?
It’s probably the Basildon sign
Essex has an awful reputation. It’s the most notorious county in the UK – and all for the wrong reasons. TOWIE was the nail in the coffin for a place widely considered to be full of wideboys with gold watches, drop top cars and prissy housewives with handbag dogs and bug eyed sunglasses. Admitting you’re from here is not an easy thing to do. Most will lie and say they’re from near London, or Kent, or anywhere.
Essex bills itself as the LA of England but falls so far of the mark. What we lack in class we make up for in effort. If it’s not rollers in the hair, the awful nasal accent or the perilously low IQ, it’s probably one of these things.
Faces nightclub and the lifting screen
From Thursdays full of sixth formers to 40+ nights, Faces is a staple part of Essex clubbing. The bottles of Belvedere outnumber the men who wore t-shirts instead of shirts. You drink out of thick plastic cups that are either all white or all black, and sit in booths that sparkle more the teeth of the girl serving you.
If you got there early, you were treated to a packed bar, the R’n’B room and a few too many Essex elbows in your side. That was until the clock struck 11pm, and the hordes of well ironed shirts and tight dresses stood in awe as the screen lifted up, smoke pouring out from underneath, to reveal a light up dance floor, a dozen VIP areas and two poles for people to grind on. Fights over the poles could get quite severe. I personally witnessed a pair of girls spin around grabbing each others hair while one of the boyfriends accidentally put his arm into a girl’s throat while trying to break it up. She went a bit blue in the face.
The central line
We were cursed with the sweatiest tube line. It’s the most convenient though: it would take you to Stratford Westfield, central London, and of course to Leytonstone so you could get to O’Neills. But if you think you’re getting a seat beyond Buckhurst Hill you have another thing coming. If you’re taller than 6″4, expect to hit your head, and if you’re short expect to have your face in someone else’s armpit for at least four stops. It’s by far the worst line there is, but it’s our only route of escape. And don’t expect people from Essex to have manners out of solidarity. We invented pole hogging.
Wet look hair gel, over the shoulder nike bags and white Air Max trainers
In the 80s, boys wore Sergio Tacchini tracksuits and looked slightly ridiculous. Now, it’s tight light washed jeans, American Eagle belt, a white t-shirt, a Ralph Lauren jumper tied around their shoulders, slicked combed over hair marinaded in wet look gel and, of course, an over the shoulder bag. Not a big bag, but just pouch sized. See, keeping your iPhone, Gucci wallet, Marlboro Golds and Audi A4 keys in your pockets ruins the denim. These little marsupial pouches are integral to carrying your essentials. They also make you look like a fucking idiot.
Mouthy girls in bodycon dresses
Collagen filled lips, contoured from head to toe and glitzy where you really don’t need it, Essex girls taste in fashion is notorious throughout the UK. You could go out in Yorkshire, and still get told you look like an Essex girl. The girls are mouthy, lippy, surly – every word that constitutes rude basically. In bodycon dresses, they’re booby, robust and they don’t give a fuck what you think. They’ll finger point, pull your hair and stamp on you with a stiletto if they have to.
If it’s not TOWIE references it’s Gavin and Stacey
Tell someone where you’re from and they’ll say: “Shataaaaaaap”. Once you explain to them that, no, Brentwood is actually quite far from where you live, and no, everyone doesn’t have a swimming pool, and yes, you don’t sound like you’re from Essex because not everyone sounds like they’ve got a clothes peg on their nose , you think the conversation takes a good turn. Then, someone shouts: “Gavlaaaaar.”
You always thought the Romford Brewery would provide a bit more of a normal shopping experience than the endless rows of overpriced boutiques in Loughton, South Woodford or Brentwood. It’s so far at the other end of the spectrum though – it’s soulless, pretty pointless and quite intimidating. Avoid the Brewery when it’s raining – the slippery floor tiles are death traps. The nightclubs around here are some of the worst in the UK, and the old set up of the town allows for quite a few alleyways for people to get lucky after Fiction closes.
Lakeside not being as good as Bluewater
Bluewater is one of the easiest places to navigate, but it enormous, not in Essex, and you have to pay a £4 toll fee every time you go there just to cross into boring Kent. Lakeside is the Essex equivalent, but it’s awful. There’s hardly any good shops, the food hall only serves plastic and yellow food, and it’s just one long straight line. Bluewater is a triangle, and it makes sense. Lakeside just feels like you’re in the 90s.
The two hour queue at Top Golf
Top Golf is a marvellous thing – it’s a driving range that acts like more of a game, where hitting the ball, which is assigned to you, at certain crater sized holes gets you more points the further you hit it. It’s lots of good clean fun – something Essex is fairly devoid of. It’s slightly overpriced but what isn’t in Essex, you’re used to that. But what you can’t handle, is rocking up at midday on a Saturday and being told there’s a two hour wait. You tried to call ahead and book, but they don’t take bookings. You drove, because that’s the only way to get there, so you can’t even sit there and have a pint at the bar. You buy overpriced food, waste your money in the tiny arcade next to it, and wait. By the time you get to tee off, a buzzer sounds and you’re told to stop playing while the cart comes and clears the balls, taking away the most fun part of the whole thing.
Duke of Essex polo
This somehow became a calendar date thousands saved. It was polo, a mark of class, being brought to Essex. People drove for miles to a corner of Epping Forest to witness a few teams run around the pitch and pretend like they new what they were watching. It was expensive, even by Essex standards. Men wore crisp shirts with unnecessary waistcoats, girls wore pastel yellow dresses, and even Anthony Costa from Blue was there. If you wanted to drop a bomb and wipe out every annoying person in Essex, every scourge of our county, this was the place to do it. Shame it’s cancelled this year.
Yeah, it’s the longest pier in the world. Yeah, they do really good doughnuts and candy floss. And yeah. there’s the adventure park. But Southend is an absolute hole. Pronounced Sarfend, the main coastal town in Essex has little to offer other than chavs that want to fight the emo kids and grungers. The millenium clock is three minutes fast too. Jump on the Misery Line at Fenchurch Street and you’ll never see so many shellsuits in your life.
The Basildon sign
On the side of the A127, the council elected to pay £90,000 for a Hollywood inspired sign.