Essex is a fantastic place to live and do business. If all you know is what you’ve seen on Towie, believe me – that’s not representative of the people, businesses or language. Well, not this bit that doubles up as ‘east east’ London anyway! So whilst I consider myself more of a London girl than an Essex one, I was pleased to be invited to attend a day promoting the training venues around the county.
Stately homes, crumbling castles, high tech architecture – we’ve got the lot. And Essex County Council organised a day that I loved… partly because it included really good food! A hotel breakfast was followed by an afternoon at the end of Southend Pier – the longest in the world. Crispy bacon with fruit platters, chicken kebabs, roasted vegetable kebabs, creamy cheeses, olive bread, salads, freshly baked afternoon tea… Now that’s what I call a good day’s work!
We were serenaded all afternoon by The Gershwin Gang Jazz Band; I do love a bit of jazz in the sunshine with a Pimms in one hand and a clotted cream scone in the other. A friendly photographer shot around 1000 snaps (thank you for my pics, Matt!) and we chatted and networked until the tide rolled out on the clear blue horizon. Well, towards Canvey…
Being on the pier always reminds me of the summer I was 15 and supposedly studying for my end-of-school exams. My mother ran a gift shop on Clacton Pier – further north along the Essex coast, tacky, tatty and gloriously kitsch. While she was busy working I met up with two boys I knew I’d never see again. One was called Mark, a blond builder from somewhere up north that I met in a nightclub (this was pre-ID days). I got bored of him quickly. If I had a shift in the gift shop I used to hide behind the stacks of musical wind-up novelty trash when he came searching for me.
The other worked in the pier bar. I can’t remember his name, but he had an industrial hoover that I sat on for rides around the pier – while he vacuumed it. We knew how to live it up in the eighties!! I came home that autumn safe in the knowledge that neither of these summer fling people would impact my life again and would merely forever be ‘the Clacton boys.’
So you can imagine how shocked I was to be walking around town and bump into Mark-the-blond-builder who had conveniently got himself a job in east London to be near me. Umm… that wasn’t the plan. I managed to detach myself from him and get on with my life with all thoughts of Clacton neatly filed away in my memory banks. Until I met Marion. Turned out the boy who took me for a ride on his hoover was her brother’s best friend! Small world. Small, small, teeny tiny world.
I’ve written before about the six degrees of separation and how it’s so easy to find people and reconnect using social media. Had social media been around in the eighties it would no doubt have been Facebook that ensured I couldn’t escape the memories of vinegary fish and chips on the bumper cars, with a musical background provided by the incessant clanging from the amusement arcade against a backdrop of North Sea waves.
The Essex I visited last week was a far cry, and it was lovely to be out of the city heat, even for just one day. I’m back in town this week for training sessions and meetings with new clients. Underground tracks versus winding roads? As Mr Essex himself says, ‘If that road gets weary, oh I love you. Waiting here if you need me, ‘cause I love the things that you do.’
Wishing a sweet and happy new year to all my Jewish friends, family and followers – may the year ahead by filled with good health, cream cakes and sparkling success. And if your road does get weary, follow me to a brighter one: @WeekendWitch.
Thanks for the photo Matthew Wherry