Why Colchester was the best place to grow up
Remember when the wolves escaped from the zoo?
We may not be a city, and we certainly wouldn’t brag about half the stuff we’re famous for, but Colchester is a great town and we wouldn’t trade our memories for anything. Here’s why growing up in Essex’s best town was amazing.
What school you went to defined you as a person
If you went to the boys’ grammar you were a vaguely racist genius. If it was the girls’ grammar then you were a prodigy or a harlot (or sometimes both). For the most part the St. Mary’s girls were rich and attractive and they knew it. The St. Benedict’s boys would always fight the Philip Morant boys in the alley after school, the Colchester High students would continuously remind you how much their fees were and frankly if you didn’t go to school on Lexden Road you weren’t relevant until college.
The wolves escaped the zoo
Everyone remembers that one afternoon where their friend tweeted that a wolf had escaped the zoo. No one believed them. Then our parents switched on the six o’clock news and shit hit the fan. The wolves has escaped the zoo and were terrorising the town. You either came down on the side of the wolves or the locals, both of which made you unpopular for caring. Eventually some were captured, some were shot, and the story was immediately replaced with the latest gossip.
The boy who wanked in the school tech block
Rumours abounded in the streets of Colchester. There was the girl who got “Eiffel Towered” at a party, the boy who shat himself on the school bus and the couple who had sex every day for a month. Perhaps the standout rumour in my formative years was of the boy who supposedly enjoyed a hand shandy in the hitherto unknowingly erotic toilets of the Design & Technology block. I’m sure he never got over the rumours.
The homeless guy who terrorised school children in Castle Park
A sunny Friday in Colchester wasn’t complete without a group outing to Castle Park. Hordes of teenagers would descend there week-on-week, to dabble in fraudulently bought alcohol and poorly concealed attempts at reaching second base. The moment though was often spoilt by a town legend, a homeless man with brightly coloured hair who would verbally abuse and throw things at the children who dared come into “his” park. I even remember the evening he was quite unceremoniously arrested, much to the delight of the on-looking students.
When Tesco Express shut for a re-fit and no one knew what to do
Supplementing your packed lunch with a BOGOF or two from Tesco Express was a hallmark of secondary education in Colchester. Situated at the nice end of Crouch Street, it was easy walking distance from many schools. That is until the days when it would shut for a re fit. The streets would be filled with semi-obese teenagers pining after a five-bag of white chocolate cookies or a promotional pack of pink Lucozade. Those few weeks were savage and live long in the minds of hungry teenagers.
You’re not allowed to go to Greenstead
Even though you’d never been and knew you never would, like the Elephant Graveyard in The Lion King, you were always told to never set foot in Greenstead. You didn’t know why, and to be honest you probably didn’t even know where it was. Everyone other than you knew someone that lived there and by all accounts they were not the kind of people you would take home to your parents.
Hilly Fields was the only place to get high
If you were that way inclined, as much of the youth of Colchester are, you would make your way to Hilly Fields whenever possible. With mates or people you barely knew, there were always opportunities to get even the tiniest bit high. As a beginner you wouldn’t understand the terminology, as a veteran you probably weren’t even doing weed anymore: legal highs were always far more appealing.
Guilty boyfriends took their girls to the zoo
In the generation of Michael Kors and large teddy bears, the zoo became the new best friend to the boyfriends with loose morals and looser side hoes. It seems that offering slightly brown fruit to an elephant and taking a cute photo by a rhino is sufficient comeuppance for his crimes. You can spot the couples in question by the glint of new Pandora on the girl’s wrist or the subtle itch of the genital warts in the boy’s pants.
Or to Westfields at Stratford
If the zoo was too clichéd then the guilty boyfriends could also force their girlfriends onto the train at Clacton or Colchester North Station, headed for the home from home of Colcestrians, to Westfields at Stratford. A new Anne Summers gift set is apparently on par with a loyal boyfriend, but the joke is on James when Amy is wearing the underwear while snapchatting her new beau from the Colchester United U21’s.
The bouncers are both terrifying and enthralling in equal measure
Colchester has somehow wormed its way into clubbing infamy. Nowhere with a club called the Dirty Penguin can be boring can it? Out of the full spectrum of clubs on offer, the most havoc comes from the Qube Bar. Underage girls hide round the corner from the bouncers so that they’re not ID’d, and everyone’s favourite Grey Goose boys descend in droves in their blazers and ill-fitting polar necks. The club scene was immortalised in the Channel 4 Show Bouncers, where the all-too-common boozing and assault of locals was filmed for the nation’s pleasure.
If that doesn’t fill you with nostalgia or make you want to move here from your own home town, then I don’t know what else I could say, other than our town gave birth to Gorillaz, Dermot O’Leary and this twat they let write for the Tab.