Why hello there, I’m back. Did you miss me?
You don’t have to answer that.
A-polo-gees, but due to a family issue I’ve been back and forth from Southend-on-Sea, a place which makes Swindon look like Monte Carlo, with bells on. Hoping we can start back where we left off? Unless, of course, you’ve found a new causerie, a kind of prose rebound, no doubt, a Daily Mail column. I understand really I do, does it do what No Surprises used to do for you, only grammatically; you literate hussy, you.
Southend is quite different from Devizes, maybe it’s the sea air but there’s a “salt of the Earth” spirit in the majority, a kind of cockney-pride of an East-End, retired now to the nostalgic littoral illusion of “South-Enders.”
So, despite the constant race to construct glass façades to ersatz castles, larger than that of their neighbours, allowing their view to pass over pink and white panelled beach huts with star-shaped fairy-lights tacked on, to a murky estuary and its heavyweight industrial dock horizon, there appears to be minimal snobbery there; one significant difference.
The sight of Essex’s arch-nemesis Kent, with burning chimneys and industrial plants, seems to dissuade no one, as they saunter a hectic coastal highway of ramshackle Tropicana and neon amusement arcades, with disregard to seasonal change and gale forces blowing along the Thames, in search of a polystyrene cup of jellied eels or a boggy whippy ice cream.
The entire inlet from London to the south-end is one analogous sprawling suburb of pleasant and generous mediocre folk, unfortunately with a princely sprinkling of avaricious braggers, voluble tattooed hoodies swapping beard-trimming techniques, and hordes of overdressed Billericay girls all called Anastasia, with earrings larger than their boobs, yapping bargain hauls and neighing through whitened teeth at their own jokes; inappropriately, they bulk the laughable Essex stereotype we love to encourage here.
You’d love it, if you pretend you never witnessed the dank arches outbound from Liverpool Street station, where if you gaze past train lights, you can see occupants huddled under filthy duvets and rotting sleeping bags.
I admit, it feels like everything is bloated folly there, a neon phoney philosophy forged into residents, blinding them from the certain doom this government is sailing us into, and it takes an individual from a Tory-infested affluent zone to explain it? Yeah, right on. Still I adhere, snobbery is absent; no one looks down their nose and scoffs, which is a pleasant change.
If this week has taught me one thing, it’s that life is too short to whinge and rant, so I planned a nice column today. Then I returned home and read some local news.
Say what you will, but Southend is functional; they allow a freedom of street art, they’ve frequent and affordable buses, and they get both bins and recycling done weekly, with a far more extensive recycling process. As opposed to our maggot-infested fortnightly collected bins which you’re expected to climb inside to squash last week’s rubbish.
So as the train returns me to the beautiful West Country downs, the first local post I see on Facebook is photos of the aftermath of some prick clearing out for the season of goodwill, and fly-tipping the garbage they couldn’t fit in their overflowing bin, over our idyllic rural landscape.
Ha, it’s like they just shoved the mountain of dead badgers aside and dumped their crap there, as if recycling centres are only in the imagination. How is this lesser a crime than Swindon’s window-licking Noel Gallagher lookie-likie, if not far less amusing? They need to be named and shamed in the local rag.
Honestly, what was going on there with the window licker, or has the Oasis star fallen on hard times? I mean licking windows is one thing, but in Swindon? It’s equally as unhygienic as making candy floss in a rugby club’s stag-do toilet bowl, which no doubt you think happens in Southend? Least they put their rubbish in the bin, cos they’ve the facilities to do so.
So Wiltshire Council jump on the bandwagon, groaning it costs two and a half million quid picking up litter in the county, omitting the opportunity of finding an old five pound note. They’re campaigning for volunteers to tidy up a bit, taking credit for the idea; as if it hasn’t already been in existence in Devizes for many a year. Thank you CUDs, it’s a big society success story that’d make Cameron oink and blush.
This tomfoolery is seriously biting into the Council budget, which needed to raise their councillor’s expense allowances again, just to have a meeting about it; pass the caviar hors d’oeuvres while we discuss it. Parking tariffs in the Market Place simply will not cover it, maybe because the ticket-machines they do have malfunction more than HAL 9000 with a Morris Worm bought from Curry’s.
“Take your litter home,” the council says; I agree, even though my bin is full. I’m not paying £1.70 an hour to sift through your litter, just to get a loaf. Still we feel it imperative to groan about people in other places, like how shallow Essex is, for example.
I withdraw the cliquey rant about Southend; Essex is Constable Country don’t forget it mate. Go sleep in a railway arch you idiot fly-tippers, oh and Councillors who make it awkward to make alternative options practical too. Stick a cold tin of beans and dirty mattress on your expense forms and kip with the dossers; see what some folks endure.
We need a rodeo roundup, a cowboy style lynch mob to march into county hall all guns blazing.
So, before I fled town, I went in search of some able-bodied men; but where could I find some West Country rouges, larger than the Council’s for a showdown at high noon?
Hold on, every other Sunday at the Conservative Club is Devizes Country Music Club. So I busted through the saloon doors, nodded to Sheriff Dean Czerwionka, who tipped his Stetson. I scanned the tavern, are there cowboys here, would it be best to try Kwik-Fit, or is it another of those uncharacteristic surprises in Devizes?
Tune in next episode to find out…. cue the sunset.