What it’s really like growing up in Essex
We’re not all orange. I promise.
Essex is basically a shit extension of East London, without the hipster coffee shops and all of the undecipherable slang.
If Essex was a person it would be Piers Morgan. Well-known, but exceptionally right-wing and offensive.
Essexonians are expected to have IQs lower than toddlers and to reside only in Brentwood and Chigwell.
Essex is viewed by the rest of the UK through the lens of TOWIE, meaning that everyone sees the residents of this southern county as, to quote Bridget Jones’ Dad, "tangerine-tinted buffoons".
But contrary to popular opinion, the vast majority of Essex is as boring and inconsequential as most provincial British counties.
Essex has a grand total of 18 MPs, all of whom are Tories; Jaywick has been voted the worst place to live in the UK for the past four years and Nigel Farage tried to become an MP here. If this doesn’t scream “shitty place to live” I don’t know what does.
Fair enough, there are a few quaint villages whose residents dress in tweed, own horses, and boast pretentious names such as Timothy and Tabitha. The Queen even visited my village in 2015 to celebrate the 500-year anniversary of a private school. But if you're hoping for excitement, this is where it peaks.
Essex is the home of Lakeside shopping centre, where you’ll spend three soul-destroying hours before heading over the Dartford Crossing to Kent’s Bluewater, wondering why you didn’t just pay the toll charge in the first place, rather than enduring the hell that is Thurrock on a Saturday.
…and even shittier prices
It’s a county where a bus from Chelmsford to Stansted Airport will set you back almost a tenner and where you’ll have to drive all the way to Epping to avoid a £36 day travel card to London.
The nightlife is average, so as long as you’re prepared to spend your night staggering around in ridiculous heels, paying £5 for a single and trying to avoid the tourists who have come to Missoula hoping to add a selfie with Gemma Collins to their Snapchat story.
Most people see Essex as the place where intelligence goes to die.
Apparently we’ve rotted our brains with fake tan and now our only career ambitions are to become Instagram make-up artists or reality TV stars.
Don‘t get me wrong, most of the ‘popular’ kids at school have gone on to do exactly that, but us nerdy normals avoided the St Moritz fumes and now spend our time entertaining our northern uni mates with stories of fellow pupils embarrassing themselves on Ibiza Weekender.
But despite all this, I’ll defend my home county to the grave. Non-Essexonians will never have gained the skill of navigating Chelmsford during V-Festival weekend, the ability to impress their mates with an in-depth knowledge of provincial tube stops, or the talent of being able to lie convincingly about how you went to school with Joey Essex.
If you’re looking for an exciting and progressive place to live, Essex probably isn’t for you. But after surviving there for nearly 20 years, I can safely say it’s not nearly as bad as everyone thinks it is.