In which Southend is less shit than we thought!

Afternoon. You might have noticed I’ve redecorated the blog and changed the theme to something else white and blocky, although by the time you read this I might have changed it twice more and/or back to how it was.

I’ve hit a mid-afternoon slump and can’t actually remember what this blog was supposed to be about, so let’s talk about dead kings! Or princes, as the case may be. Or may not be. Who read about the Prittlewell Princely burial and felt a mild stab of pride at being from Southend? It was a fleeting stab – kind of a twinge? – but YES HELLO THAT’S A BIT OF VERGE I RECOGNISE. I’m going to the exhibition as soon as I can.

I actually remember, albeit vagually, visiting an exhibition about the burial in either Southend Museum or Prittlewell Priory 12 or 15 years ago, when it was quite a new find. I don’t remember being hugely excited but take two should be better, mostly because I now know how to read.

It occurred to me ages ago that it might be quite fun to do a series of posts about things in and around Southend that are actually quite nice (there are some excellent shops and a few interesting historical places and/or haunted places), but I never got around to it. Maybe I should start with the exhibition? Or the bit of verge under which the Saxon king/prince was buried for several centuries? The Aldi across the road is staffed by lovely people, but we might have trouble getting photographs that don’t feature traffic. Or tarmac.

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The Tale of Three Errands

Afternoon! Today I had probably my most advanced day of adulthood so far, to the point where I feel like it actually deserves to be spoken about even though, in true adult fashion, it was boring as hell.

First of all, I drove to Halfords because I needed – wait for it – windscreen wipers and car wash soap! I don’t think the outside of the Mini has been washed since I bought it, basically because I have previously been too nervous a driver to take a trip to Halfords – a full 15 minutes away from my home – by myself and I am too cheap to go down the car wash. But I was heading that way, so I took the initiative. I also bought a giant cartoon sponge, a large bucket and one of those windscreen chip repair kits because those Autoglass chip repair ads, ironically, inspire me to smash something. I’ll use your service when your radio commercial doesn’t make me want to crash my car into the nearest lamp post, mates.

Then I took a detour off London Road, which if you are not from Southend is the longest, most traffic light-populated two lanes to exist in the town. It goes on for bloody miles and there are 8,000 shops and showrooms and Places of Interest that I can only vaguely keep track of when I’m not navigating the traffic lights. Halfords is down there. So was everything else I needed to do today. Anyway, the detour. Francesca’s Words is doing the Youth Market at Leigh Community Centre in July and I had to drop off a deposit. I should add here that unless I’m going to work I have my satnav in the car, even if I kind of know where I’m going, because it calms me down. This morning in a fit of idiocy I wiped the British map from its system and had to get the app on my phone instead, which is way less acceptable to glance at when you’re navigating the one way system in Leigh. I CAN’T BELIEVE HOW COMPLICATED IT WAS TO TAKE THE DETOUR. I looked at a map yesterday and thought ‘I barely need a satnav, it’s a four second detour!’ Nope. I arrived shaking. Leigh was built about a century before they invented the automobile. But my deposit got paid, so I got back on London Road and headed on to my most adult appointment of the day…

… a contact lens check. My eyes are fine, thanks for asking. I nearly didn’t get there though because I got stuck in another one way system. The satnav app yelled at me four a full five minutes, which was bullshit because I actually already knew where I was going so I ignored the instructions, but then it turned out I didn’t actually know how to get to the car park I was aiming for so I ended up in a supermarket car park with about 500 elderly people. Did some shopping. Almost lost the Mini on the way back. It was hidden behind some sort of people carrier. I will never voluntarily shop anywhere with more than six aisles.

Thelma and Louise car driving off cliff gif

But it gets more adult, dear reader, because while I was in Halfords my phone rang and it was a work thing and I consciously thought, ‘I wish they weren’t playing Kaiser Chiefs so loudly, it’s rather a distraction.’

Just buy me carpet slippers and an electric blanket for my birthday, cheers.

Coincidentally, later on I’m going to rediscover my twenties by going down the pub with my friends on a work night. I’ll probably order a tonic with extra tonic.

Oh I Do Like to Be Beside the Seaside…

This morning I saw Southend-on-Sea mentioned in not one but two legitimate news stories. In the first, Southend made a list of the UK’s most polluted towns and cities. But there’s a coast right there with a strong wind to blow away all the fumes! It’s not even as crowded as most cities! I hear you say. Have you ever sat in a mile of idling traffic on the A127 at rush hour? I respond. If you open a window your snot will turn black. Also, have you noticed the number of housing developments in the borough? There’s about half a cubic foot of air per person in some of those flats. 

The second story was worse: Southend has the lowest rate of pay in the UK. I kind of feel like that might be down to the fact there are only really two main industries, hospitality and public services, and neither of those are famous for paying any more then they are legally forced to. I would have added retail to that sentence, but Southend high street has more closed shops than it does open ones… I saw a link to a spoof article the other day about Southend being closed for good in 2020 and my first thought wasn’t ‘oh, a spoof!’ it was ‘they’re planning on waiting until 2020?’ Walking down the high street for some shopping is like braving a weed-tinged apocalypse.

I can’t find statistics to back this up, but I recently heard a rumour that Southend has the highest number of start ups in the UK, so I suppose there’s that. Obviously as soon as these innovative new enterprises get funding they will move to Hackney or Salford and spend the rest of their days telling people that they’re from ‘just outside London’, by which time Southend’s public parks and cemeteries will have been bulldozed to build luxury flats for commuters who have no other choice but to move to somewhere with high pollution levels and no high street, because every London borough will be full of empty houses registered to owners in Panama.

Has anyone thought of building flats on the end of Southend Pier? It would lessen the need to cross the QEII bridge into Kent everyday… Or perhaps we could apply for a change in housing regulations, so families could live in the beach huts on the seafront. I mean, it’s not as though Millennials need living rooms. Just chuck us in a shed on stilts and we’ll work out the rest…

I’m not generally a fan of Morrissey, but I’m going to leave this here – it’s a reminder of the good old days, when you could take a car into the centre of town without applying for a bank loan: