Essex, Essex, Essex, the land of the free and the home of the brave—well, not quite.
Most people who are not from Essex, have a pre-conceived idea of what our glorious county is like. Most of which are not helped by the ridiculous ‘reality’ TV show called ‘The Only Way is Essex’, which would have you believe we are all a bunch of morons who chase designer labels, don’t pronounce our T’s or H’s, have breast implants to rival Lola Ferrari and are as thick as two short planks. Maybe I’m old, but I can promise you I have never said “well jel” in my entire life—and have no intention of doing so. But then I guess it’s like everywhere else in the world, there are some areas of Essex that probably are a lot more like the way the typical Essex-er is portrayed than others.
The Essex Boy: The male of the species can usually be found in their natural habitat which is a large building with a sign outside bearing a painting of various animals, or even members of royalty from ages gone by. Such examples are, The Shepherd and Dog, The White Hart and the King’s Head. These “establishments” sell beverages of an alcoholic nature known as “lager” which is not to be confused with the slightly more expensive “bitter”. Of course, we are at a loss to know why these are the beverages of choice because they taste like crap which can be verified by the ‘wince’ displayed after each sip.
The younger male can be found in attire such as low hanging trousers that show most of their underwear. The reason why has yet to be established because there is a strip of leather made in Essex called a ‘belt’ that can be purchased for the sole purpose of keeping said trousers around the waist they were intended for. The trousers are usually topped off by a ‘hoodie’, which obscures the wearer’s face and makes them look more ‘hip’—which is odd, because as far as the writer is aware, a hip is what you find your legs attached to – so why they’d want to look like one is beyond me. Oh, and the baseball cap is often in place at various angles on the head. Backwards, forwards, sideways, on the front of the head, on the back of the head and, sometimes, inside the hood of the ‘hoodie’ itself – which is baffling.
They can also be found on Southend seafront in their Ford Escorts with giant exhaust pipes driving up and down on what used to be known as ‘the circuit’. Unfortunately, residents became unappreciative of the ‘vroom-vroom’ antics of these individuals and several years ago they cut off the circuit, forcing the drivers to congregate outside the Westcliff Casino and lean on their bonnets in an attempt to attract the female of the species… with their trousers around their hips, baseball caps on their heads and a gormless look on their face (which most of them are born with).
The Essex Girl: Now, the Essex Girl comes in many varieties. Firstly, there is the interesting sub-species, the “yummy mummy”. These are a miraculous breed who attend the school drop-off and pick-up in full make-up, with skinny jeans, high heels and pushchairs that resemble something from outer space.
I, unfortunately, am more “scummy mummy” than “yummy mummy”, having been known to take the children to school with no make-up on, hair un-brushed and still wearing my pyjamas. Am I ashamed? Good God no! The world would be a better place if more of us just turned up with last night’s mascara under our eyes and bed-head so bad it would take a flame thrower to sort out. Once they hit 8, the little sods won’t let you in the playground anyway in case their friends see you, so what’s the point of even getting out of the car?
What can we say about the teenager? She is never without her mobile phone, which has every application known to man open AT THE SAME TIME. She is ambidextrous, which in this case means she can Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Text and Whatsapp without flinching, getting confused or breaking a nail. She wears skinny jeans or short skirts that, in my day, would have made a nice belt. Her nails are manicured to a high standard… or should I say, stuck on and then manicured to a high standard. Every time I see a set of nails like them, my first thought is… “How do they pick their nose with them on?” What else…. ah, yes, she will say “well jel” at every opportunity and frequent Lakeside on an almost daily basis, teetering around on heels so high they don’t need to take the elevator to the next floor, and with fake eyelashes so big it’s a wonder they can see where they’re going.
As I said, the idea of Essex is pre-conceived. I was on holiday in Cornwall once and popped into a hairdressers to get my fringe cut. The girl asked me where I was from and when I told her she said, “But you’re not wearing white stilettos.” Of course, the old adages of what’s an Essex girl’s favourite wine – “I wanna go Lakeside!” and how do you know when an Essex girl’s had an orgasm? – She drops her chips, probably don’t help give others a very kindly view of our county.
Essex is actually a beautiful piece of English countryside, filled with stately homes and country parks. In the summer when I was a kid, my dad would pack us all into the car with sandwiches and a big bottle of lemonade that we used to pass around between us (desperately hoping we weren’t last and got the mouthful with the bits of sandwich floating in it) and take us to marvellous places such as Audley End, or Frinton-on-Sea and my favourite, Walton-on-the-Naze. Places with beautiful beaches and family days out to delight the young and old alike.
I love Essex, am an Essex girl born and bred and wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. So forget the stereotype, get in your motor and pootle up the M25 to check out Southend. Let me know when you’re coming and I’ll put the kettle on and defrost the cheesecake… I’m sure we’ll have lots to talk about 😉
Lisa Worrall lives in a little seaside town on the south coast of England that boasts the longest pier in the world. She is the single mother of two children of the hair-graying ages of nine and seven and is currently petitioning for there to be more hours in the day, because there never seem to be enough.
She has been reading and writing romance since she was awarded a gold star in composition by her head teacher (Mr. Croucher) some… erm… years ago and has been listening to the voices in her head on a regular basis for the last few years, once she realized they were not going away. She likes nothing more than bringing together two people in interesting and sometimes bizarre ways, and hopes that her readers enjoy her characters’ journeys as much as she does.
You can contact Lisa through:
It’s been six months since Vance Wolf buried his father. Driven to an early grave by the constant harassment of the new owner of the neighboring property, Andrew Blackwell. Now Vance’s cattle are disappearing faster than he can replace them and their cash flow has been wiped out by the new barn they had to build after the other one mysteriously caught fire. The local sheriff’s pockets are being lined by Blackwell, so Vance knows they’re on their own and is at his wits end. Then his mother suggests they open up the ranch to business types as a cowboy camp.
Adam Prentiss arrives at Wolf Creek Ranch on a team-building exercise with the four colleagues in his department. He is not the cowboy type, but has no choice as his boss, and father, has sent him to Wolf Creek with instructions to delve into the financial status of the ranch and report back to him. Falling for Vance Wolf had not been part of the plan, but the connection between them had been instant. But what was he more afraid of? Disobeying his boss or Vance finding out Adam’s father was in fact Andrew Blackwell and he’d been sent to help him appropriate Vance’s land by any means necessary?
N.B: 20% of the royalties for each copy sold will be donated to The Friends of Roxburghe House in memory of my friend, Keith Donald, who lost his battle with cancer in September. Roxburghe House is the hospice who cared for Keith and continue to care for those who wage their own war with this barbaric disease – thank you.